Over The Top


Sylvester Stallone entered the record books by receiving his $12,000,000 fee reportedly before a single frame of the film was shot. This was the second film Stallone made for a two picture deal he made with Cannon films. The first was the 1986 release "Cobra." Stallone also had a role in directing some of the scenes and also co-wrote the screenplay.

-Thanks to Robert Baum

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In an interesting departure from his roles in such films as "Rambo" and "Cobra", Sylvester Stallone plays the working-class father in one of my favorite 80's movies.

Stallone stars as Lincoln Hawk, a street-wise trucker who left his wife and son many years ago. Though separated from his family, Hawk has kept in touch with his wife, Christine Cutler (Susan Blakely). Having fallen ill with a heart condition, she asks her husband to go and pick up their 12-year-old son Michael (David Mendenhall) from his military school graduation ceremony.

Though hesistant at first (he even asks his father for identification), Michael eventually resigns to leaving with Hawk in his truck, but does little to hide the resentment he feels toward his estranged father, who he claims to have never received a letter from in several years, though Hawk assures him otherwise. A pretentious young man, Michael seems to abhor everything about Hawk, from his lifestyle to his diet. And his feelings certainly do not soften when he discovers how his father makes a living: Arm wrestling.

But trouble begins when Michael's grandfather (Robert Loggia) learns that Hawk has taken his grandson. Having raised the boy ever since Hawk's desertion, Jason Cutler orders his associates to track down and retrieve Michael from the charge of the 'dead beat' Lincoln Hawk, by any means necessary.

Through their time on the road, Michael eventually warms up to his father, all but abandoning the lies and half-truths his grandfather had told him about the man. In turn, Hawk bestows upon his son a greater sense of self-worth, teaching him time and time again that "the world meets nobody halfway". He even teaches him to arm wrestle and drive the truck!

All seems well when the two arrive at the hospital to visit Christine, but the news is grim. Word of his mother's death sends Michael into an emotional tailspin, which ultimately thrusts him back into the arms of his grandfather. When Hawk comes to retrieve Michael by crashing his truck through the front door of the Cutler estate, Jason Cutler wastes little time in having him arrested.

From behind bars, Hawk receives word from Cutler's attorney that Jason intends to seek custody of Michael and that to avoid being prosecuted for trashing the estate, he must leave the state, never to return. After meeting with his loving, but disillusioned son, Hawk agrees to the terms and sets out for the big arm wrestling tournament in Las Vegas. With the odds stacked 20-to-1 against him, Hawk throws caution to the wind by selling his truck and gambling the money on himself.

Back at the estate, having had time to contemplate his father's words, Michael delves into his mother's dresser in search of the truth. He finds it in the form of a huge bundle of letters addressed to him and his mother from his father. With his grandfather's lies dispelled, Michael sneaks out of the estate and steals a car from the garage, determined to make the trip to Las Vegas.

After losing a match in the double-elimination tournament, Hawk is summoned to a hotel presidential suite, where Jason Cutler attempts to lure him away from the competition with a lucrative check and a new truck. But Hawk flatly refuses, declaring that he would be coming for Michael once the tournament was over, prosecution or no.

Unbeknownst to him, Michael is already on his way and would arrive just in time for the final match between his father and his arch rival, Bull Hurley (Rick Zumwalt). A huge bear of a man, he would be all that stands between Lincoln Hawk and a huge cash prize, a brand new $250,000 truck and in a roundabout way, the custody of his beloved son.


A modern day version of the David and Goliath tale, Over The Top remains something of a guilty pleasure for me.

I used to watch this film endlessly when I was younger, and it really hit home for me since my uncle was in Las Vegas while this movie was filming. Though it's not the caliber of Rocky, it does have its charm.

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: A story of love, hate, betrayal, and arm wrestling, with a bit of action intersperced with the drama.

Weaknesses? Maybe too much sentimentality for some.

Our rating: 8.5 out of 10

Review Written by Joe Pingree:  Contact  |  More Reviews by Joe Pingree
Over The Top