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No Contest

D: Paul Lynch / 98m

Cast: Shannon Tweed, Robert Davi, Andrew Clay, Roddy Piper, Nicholas Campbell, John Colicos, James Purcell, Judith Scott, Polly Shannon, Louis Wrightman, Keram Malicki-Sanchez, J.D. Nicholsen

Seven years after Die Hard and still the rip-offs kept coming…  This time around the setting is a beauty pageant being staged in a hotel, and instead of wrong-cop-in-the-wrong-place John McClane, we have wrong-hostess-in-the-wrong-place Sharon Bell (Tweed).  As the winner is announced, arch-villain Oz (Clay) and his crew of ne’er-do-wells take over the pageant and the hotel and hold the finalists, plus Bell, as hostages.  Among the finalists is Miss U.S.A. (Shannon).  Her father, Senator Wilson (Colicos) and Oz used to be business partners until the Senator let him take the fall for a dodgy business deal gone wrong.  Now Oz is looking for some payback.

While Oz and co intimidate their hostages and try to look menacing, outside the building, Crane (Davi), Miss U.S.A.’s bodyguard, and Captain Hendricks (Purcell) plot to find a way into the hotel, rescue the hostages and thwart Oz’s evil plan.  Along the way there are the usual double crosses, action beats, less-than-credible dialogue, over-acting, lazy direction, ridiculous stunts (Davi hanging by his cane underneath a rising maintenance cart), and one climax too many.

No Contest -scene

As No Contest lurches from one absurd scene to the next, it becomes obvious that no one on the production side of things was concerned at just how absurd it all is.  And yet, the movie, despite all its faults – or maybe because of them – is one of the most enjoyable Die Hard rip-offs out there.  First, there is Shannon Tweed, taking time out from her usual role as a sexual predator in movies such as Body Chemistry 4: Full Exposure.  Now, Tweed is a beautiful woman and she has a terrific figure, but what she doesn’t have is any real talent for acting.  She never seems sure of how to play a scene, or react to what’s going on around her.  Watch her in the scene where Vic (Campbell) takes her down to the swimming pool and removes the explosive cuff she and the other hostages have been made to wear.  In a scene where her character should be scared of what’s coming next, the expression on her face relays confusion instead.  It’s almost as if she’s not sure what she’s supposed to be doing.  But with all this, the camera loves her and it’s hard to take your eyes off her whether she’s standing at a podium announcing the winner of the pageant or scrabbling through an air vent.

Second is the inspired casting of the bad guys.  Aside from Clay there’s ex-WWE wrestler Roddy Piper as psychotic sidekick Ice; the aforementioned Nicholas Campbell as vain, incompetent Vic; Louis Wrightman as trigger-happy Que; Keram Malicki-Sanchez as pony-tailed computer whiz Cal; and J.D. Nicholsen as spare wheel Zed.  All six make for a great team of villains, and each gets their own special ‘moment’ to shine, especially Malicki-Sanchez once Tweed has tied him to a pipe.

Third is just the sheer barminess of the plot.  The police initially send in just two armed officers to infiltrate the hotel; both are killed by a camera fitted out with a gun.  Oz takes control of the pageant while wearing a ill-fitting wig and moustache that he quickly discards and never wears again;  Ice survives lethal attack after lethal attack, enough to make you wonder if his real name is Michael Myers; and Crane puts having a cigarette before being a proper bodyguard to Miss U.S.A. and gets himself locked out of the hotel as a result.  It’s so bad it’s brilliant.

Lynch directs ably enough, and the fights are well-staged.  Tweed does well as an action heroine, and Clay hams it up so much you wonder if there was a porcine shortage during the movie’s making.  The film moves along at a fair pace and while it’s all very preposterous, it keeps the viewer entertained throughout.

Rating: 6/10 – Tweed proves a good focus for an action movie that is short on original ideas but is fun to watch nevertheless; a six-pack and a pizza kind of movie and just right for a zone-out Saturday night.

Originally posted on thedullwoodexperiment website.

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