Short Attention Span Review: Best of the Best (1989)
I do this out of love, peeps. Writing this review feels a lot like baring my soul in some new and thoroughly uncomfortable way. Why? Well, because this cliched and entirely too emotional offspring of a kung fu flick cross-pollinated with a soap opera is most certainly a guilty pleasure of mine. Crafting this blog will require me to profess my undying love for a picture that is remarkably bad. As far as I'm concerned, Best of the Best is a case study in the rare art of getting everything wrong--and somehow getting it right. Yes, the plot finds room for every staple of both motion pictures about sports and plucky underdog tales in general. Yes, it shamelessly mines each of these tropes for every single ounce of melodrama. It mines many of them twice. Some of them may be mined a half-dozen times or more before everyone hugs it out at the weepy conclusion. Yes, Eric Roberts takes over-acting to new heights, playing his role with less restraint than we might expect from Bill Shatner and Wings Hauser--if they were shitfaced and engaged in a fierce competition to see who could get booted off the set first. Yes, the closing reel morality play is so overdone that it roughly equates to cooking your steak until it becomes jerky. All of these things are true (and I haven't even touched upon the glam-rock soundtrack or Eric's hair, dear lord) and yet it is both entertaining and touching in spite of its glaring flaws. Shit, much of the entertainment is reliant upon Eric's dedication to turning every other scene into an opportunity to work through the five stages of grief in one take. In terms of competence, originality, and believability, Best of the Best must be considered an abject failure. However, it bypasses the realm of "so bad it's good" filmmaking and somehow lands in "so bad it is marvelous" territory. Yeah, I'll stand by that. You'll marvel, all right. You may even cheer. You may cry a bit, doing your own Eric Roberts Lite routine, and you'll certainly feel like a dumbass for falling prey to this crap when that happens. Honestly, I love it. No shame, peeps. I'm going to bat for Eric Roberts like Mickey Rourke here. I would have given him the Oscar, no bullshit. His performance in Best of the Best leads me to believe that his acceptance speech would have been the greatest thing to happen in the history of time.
Final Grade: C+
|Eric Roberts, man. Eric Fucking Roberts. Unbelievable. And I still wind up so invested in his character. If I was the only one who felt this way, I would chalk it up to mental illness.|