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  Santa with Muscles Season's BeatingsBuy this film here.
Year: 1996
Director: John Murlowski
Stars: Hulk Hogan, Ed Begley Jr, Don Stark, Robin Curtis, Garrett Morris, Aria Noelle Curzon, Adam Wylie, Mila Kunis, Jennifer Paz, Clint Howard, William Newman, Robert Apisa, Pierre Dulat, Steve Valentine, Kai Ephron, Diane Robin, Kevin West, Eddy Donno
Genre: Comedy, Action
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Blake (Hulk Hogan) is a multi-millionaire thanks to his health food business, something he has channelled into his huge mansion in this smalltown, and a staff who he instructs to attack him to keep him toned and alert. Naturally, those staff don't wish to get the better of him so they ensure their boss always wins, but he doesn't simply get them to assist in his mansion workout, he also recruits them to take part in such activities as paintballing as well, which they are doing today. As a side effect, they also get into a high speed chase with the police, which has an unusual outcome...

And what could be more unusual than a world famous wrestler dressed in a customised Santa Claus suit apparently designed by Mila Kunis? Well, maybe quite a bit, but there are certain things you cannot unsee, which is why for most potential viewers they opted not to take a chance with any traumatic long-term memories and ignore Santa with Muscles, which was the Hulkster's attempt to break the lucrative Christmas market. Unfortunately there's little worse in the world of cinema than a Christmas movie done badly: it would either be sticky with sentimentality or risking bad taste in its attempts to do something both heartwarming and/or original with the format.

This item did pile on the schmaltz thanks to the inclusion in the plot of the world's least successful orphanage, which contains three children - in a way it's good that such an establishment should be so empty, but in another it did raise questions about why it hadn't closed ages ago. Which was precisely what the villain had in mind, said villain being Ebner Frost (Ed Begley Jr) who is another multi-millionaire - how many did one smalltown need? - but even less responsible and generous than Blake. Frost wishes to buy up the whole place so he can extend his business arrangements, and the orphanage is, you guessed it, the final piece that's holding out, meaning he has to deploy his bizarre henchpersons to persuade the owners to relent.

Said owners played by Star Trek's Robin Curtis and former Saturday Night Live comedian Garrett Morris, who nearly gets run over by an ice cream van driven by the four henchpersons, except Blake grabs onto a chain hanging off it and stops it in its tracks, him being so strong and all. What prompts this altruistic change of heart? A bump on the head, which gives him a dose of only in the movies amnesia and because he was dressed as a department store Santa at the time (he was hiding from those policemen, including the inevitable Clint Howard) he comes to believe he really is Father Christmas, in effect turning St Nicholas into a superhero. Though even then Hulk looks as sceptical as you will be, as if he cannot quite accept his career has led him to this, though considering his other movies he shouldn't have been that surprised.

So it is this faux-Santa first foils robbers and then teams up with the orphans to save their home, only being a famous wrestler in real life Hogan had to apply some violence to sustain his tough guy reputation, nothing with limbs getting ripped off or anything, but not the sort of thing you'd have seen in Miracle on 34th Street. As if this mix wasn't curious enough, the orphanage turns out to be sitting on a cave vault of power crystals, not like you'd get in a computer game but the sort which contain energy, yet will explode if unstable. Oh, those sort of crystals, you must have heard of them. Me neither. Anyway, the point of those is to offer a showdown in the cave where Blake and Ebner partake in hand to hand combat as if they were duelling with light sabers, then a great big explosion to top it all off. Santa with Muscles wasn't exactly the worst thing ever made, but it did contain too many odd misjudgements in its strains to be family friendly, not least Hulk's highly camp choice of outfit. How many cops carry bazookas, anyway? Music by James Covell.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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