Sylvester Stallone has hardly shied away from starring in truly crappy films. So maybe it's inevitable that during his '80s heyday, he would star in that one movie that answered the question nobody asked--namely, "why hasn't there been a film about a truck driver who competes in arm wrestling competitions?"
Well, to arm wrestlers everywhere, this film was a glowing tribute. But it was also about so much more! Stallone's character--named Lincoln Hawk, because of course--has to bond with his son after his estranged wife succumbs to cancer. (Tragically, the hospital makes a mistake and has her removed from the cancer, rather than the other way around. This is why we need health reform, people!) He picks up the young boy at military school so they can drive from Colorado to Los Angeles to visit the mother before she expires. Despite the kid's reasonable question of why the two of them had to drive halfway across the country when there were airplanes available in 1986, Stallone decides they needed the bonding time. Of course, this results in them showing up too late and finding out the mother was dead when they got to the hospital. But hey, father and son couldn't wait to do their bonding after visiting her! They have to live in the moment.
There is also essentially no chemistry between father and son--in fact, one scene feeatures a "montage" of them chatting silently while the theme music plays! I mean, I've seen training scenes, travelling scenes, even romantic romp scenes being reduced to a montage before, but I've never seen CONVERSATIONS reduced to montage. This, my friends, is the sign of a director who says "screw it, my audience are douches, time to give them the cinematic equivalent of a swirly".
Of course, arm wrestling, truck driving and father-son bonding--involving even a scene where Stallone/Hawk decides to risk lives and his trucker license by letting his ten year old son drive the truck for a bit--are not all this film has to offer. No, that would be letting you off easy! The film needed Robert Loggia at his hammiest, as the kid's rich, evil grandfather who will stop at nothing to keep the kid away from Stallone/Hawk.
Ok, let's see--a rich man raises his daughter with all the finest things, only for her to marry a truck driving arm wrestler with the fine diction and charm of a Stallone character. This prize of a son-in-law abandons your daughter and their son, and when the time comes to visit her when she's dying of cancer, they decide to make a road trip instead of taking a same-day flight. Gee, I wonder why Loggia/rich-guy didn't bond with him right away? Of course, it does get stupider--Stallone drives his truck over Loggia's front gate and smashes up the estate before getting arrested, because Loggia had been keeping the kid there--yep, no chance people including the boy would get seriously injured with that stunt.
Do I even need to explain how this ends? Certainly the father and son grow close, Loggia and his goons get foiled, Stallone wins an arm wrestling championship, and the audience of this farce lose two hours of their lives. In a way, they got StallOWNED.
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