originally published March 15, 2012
Over the past seventy-five days, I have had the great fortune to write about a number of fantastic films. I wrote a piece on Double Indemnity, another on a Spanky & Our Gang short, and yet another piece on Greenlandic cinema. Wow. Okay, I’ve written about one fantastic film. Now I’m covering another, and this one is a true tour-de-force.
The movie is called No Contest. And I love it.
Okay, I haven’t seen it. And it looks horrible. But somehow I’ll stretch it into a thousand words.
So how does one talk at length about a movie they haven’t seen? This one may be easier than it seems, because I think we’ve all seen this film. Maybe under a different name, with different (and equally ludicrous) actors, but if you spent just ninety minutes of the 1990s in front of an inexplicable action film, you have probably basically seen No Contest.
Let’s start with the stars. Andrew Clay (he dropped the nickname “Dice” for this movie, maybe because he wanted us to know this was a serious role) is the headliner, the antagonist of the film. Opposite Clay we find Shannon Tweed in that vacuum portion of her career between pin-up and reality-show star. Also making the front cover is Robert Davi. You may be saying to yourself, “Self… do we know who Robert Davi is?” Your self will probably shrug its shoulders. But if you’ve seen Die Hard (and if you haven’t, you have no business doing anything else with your life until you do), you’ll remember him as Special Agent Johnson of the FBI. He’s the white one, the one with the immortal piece of dialog: “Just like fucking Saigon, hey slick?”
Alright, we’ve got a star-studded cast – truly, there is no better way to describe this cast than studded with stars. How about the plot? No Contest deals with a Miss Galaxy competition, taken over by terrorists who demand diamonds as a ransom.
Wait a second… diamonds? Their plan is to demand diamonds? So they’ll hope to get what they want, then travel somewhere else and fence the goods… why not just ask for money to begin with? You have hostages, Andrew Clay pointing a gun at the ceiling, and “a roller coaster ride of full frontal, high-octane action” – why add an extra step to your devious plot?
By the way, if you punch that tag-line into Google, this image shows up:
Anyway, these thugs take the most beautiful women in the galaxy hostage, but they didn’t count on Shannon Tweed, the gorgeous host who happens to be trained in kick-boxing. Tweed takes on the John McClaine role here, and Robert Davi plays the cop who is probably trying to control the situation from outside, but ultimately has little bearing on the final battle between Tweed and Clay.
Most have you are already searching in iTunes to see if this film is available for purchase. It’s not. It is, however, available from amazon.com for the low, low price of $1.98. Well worth it, if only to see Robert Davi stretch his acting chops from FBI agent to cop.
Also, Roddy Piper. Yes, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, the Masked Canadian, Hulk Hogan’s one-time bitter rival, and the guy who hosed down Morton Downy Jr. back when people knew who the hell that was. He plays “Ice” in No Contest, no doubt with the depth and aplomb of everyone who takes on a role with such a name.
I don’t know if any of my readers avidly watched Da Vinci’s Inquest on CBC between 1998 and 2005 (I certainly didn’t), but Nicholas Campbell, Da Vinci himself, plays “Vic” in No Contest. Anyone? No?
Alright, I checked the other actors and found no one familiar. But takes more than star-power to fuel a dynamic film such as this, even when one of those stars is the Diceman. So, we have screenwriter Robert C. Cooper, who incidentally looks like this:
He produced every single episode of Stargate SG-1 and its spin-offs, 352 episodes in total. Somehow I don’t think the measly earnings and poor reception of No Contest (which is sitting at an impressive 35% at Rottentomatoes.com) bother him much.
Director Paul Lynch – no relation to David (probably) – was mostly a TV director, having worked on Star Trek: TNG, Baywatch Nights, and Beverly Hills Buntz, as well as one episode of Moonlighting. He also has the credit of designing the titles for this film.
As I said earlier, we have all seen some form of this film. 90s action movies were, to a large extent, generic and interchangeable. No one is lining up for the Blu-ray release of films like Excessive Force, Expect No Mercy, At The Edge Of The Law, Fatal Deviation, Fist of Legend, Heroes Among Heroes, McBain…
Wait, that last one… did they really make the McBain movie?
Well, not really. This is actually a 1991 action flop starring Christopher Walken, Maria Conchita Alonso and Michael Ironside. The film had nothing to do with the Simpsons character, however there was a legal issue in using the McBain name after this film came out, prompting the show’s producers to develop the name “Rainier Wolfcastle” for the cartoon actor. Wow, I did learn something interesting today.
Back to our feature presentation. When you finally watch No Contest and fall as deeply in love with it as you no doubt will, check out No Contest II: Face The Evil. Shannon Tweed is back as Sharon Bell (spoilers! She survives the first movie!), working to stop a terrorist plot to smuggle some Nazi nerve gas. Somehow they found a way to lower the star power in the sequel, replacing Clay and Davi with Lance Henrikson and Bruce Payne (no idea).
To finish up, let’s have a look at some of the most quotable dialog from No Contest:
“You better wipe your lip – there’s a trace of venom showing.”
“Here we go, boppers!”
“Sharon Bell – she’s like a Bruce Lee with boobs, man!”
You can watch the trailer here. I especially like the announcer’s line: “Innocent hostages… wired for death!” I can’t recommend this movie enough – someday there will be a film school class on the Generic 90s Action Thriller, and No Contest will be a part of the curriculum.
I haven’t seen it, but already this has become one of my favorite all-time features, right up there with Nuummioq, the gem of Greenland. I recommend you all head to amazon right away and buy the DVD.
I wonder if they take diamonds as payment.