No Contest

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“No originality, no budget… But no disaster, either.”

An almost-entirely shameless Die Hard rip-off, this stars Tweed as Shannon Bell, the host of a beauty-pageant, which is interrupted by Oz (Clay) and his gang, who take a half-dozen of the beauty-queens and Bell hostage, up in the penthouse, and demand $10 million in diamonds for their release. Bell manages to slip away and, fortunately, her character is an actress, famous for playing action heroines [yeah, it’s all a bit ‘meta’ – except, it came out in 1992, largely before ‘meta’ became popular…]. So she gets to go all John McClane on their asses, crawling round air-ducts and assisting ex-federal agent Crane (Davi), who was bodyguarding one of the participants, who is a politician’s daughter, but popped outside the building for a fortunately-timed smoke.

The script is hackneyed, certainly, but it’s a stellar B-movie cast, that works well, and largely keeps things entertaining. This is where the thought has gone in. While Oz is undeniably brutal, he is as far from Hans Gruber as can be imagined, a foulmouth sleazeball rather than a suave sophisticat, and Bell, similarly, is the opposite of McClane, despite her action pedigree (one character describes the roles she plays as, “Bruce Lee with boobs”). Endearingly, she bursts into tears after she has to kill someone. Davi, of course, was in the original, playing Special Agent Johnson [“No – the other one…”], and we’ll watch anything with Piper in it, after They Live. It’s clear Tweed is not exactly in the realm of Lee, but does credibly enough to paper over the cracks, action-wise, and perhaps surprisingly, keeps her clothes entirely on.

Things do fall apart at the finale, which is convoluted and strained, to say the least: the film is much better when sticking to its basic premise – or, more accurately, someone else’s basic premise. But, having sat through much the same film with Anna Nicole Smith in the lead, this is an enormous improvement. Certainly, it’s cheap and cheerful, the kind of thing you can imagine seeing in an early 90’s videostore, with an appropriately lurid cover. But it is entertaining, and given the sights of the makers were clearly aimed no higher than that, has to be judged a success.

Dir: Paul Lynch
Star: Shannon Tweed, Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay, Roberto Davi, Roddy Piper

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