Friday, 20 June 2008


ARENA (1989)

Directed by: Peter Manoogian
Written by: Danny Bilson & Paul De Meo
Starring: Paul Satterfield, Claudia Christian & Hamilton Camp

A fairly ambitious film, considering considerable budget constraints, from Empire Pictures, Arena is pretty much Kickboxer in space. With a little Star Trek thrown in for good measure. On a distant space station, All-American hero Steve Armstrong (Satterfield) gets the chance to take part in the intergalactic combat tournament, Arena. Showing skills at one-on-one fighting he is the first human in decades to compete and must go fist-to-fist and toe-to-toe with a series of increasingly dangerous alien/mutant opponents.

Cheesy from the get go Arena is surprisingly pleasant entertainment which gets by on its surfeit of alien/mutant hybrids and some pretty decent fight scenes. The sets and costumes may not have dated so well and the story is well worn but this low budget martial arts space adventure has a lot of heart. Satterfield is typically bland as the golden boy hero but the supporting cast act surprisingly well considering some of the ridiculous costumes they have to wear and likewise dialogue they have to spout. Bilson’s and De Meo script is pacy and punchy and always inventive with the outer space station setting making for an exciting backdrop. Empire must have had a bit of money to play with as the sets are impressive and the make up effects pretty stunning. Handled by Screaming Mad George (Mutronics), the various mutants and aliens our hero has to fight make Arena a fun time.

The fight scenes aren’t bad either. There isn’t a great deal of them but considering Satterfield is fighting a bunch of prosthetic monsters, the fights are entertaining, punchy and feature some decent blocking and take downs. His duel with a giant creature called Sloth is the highlight and certainly novel in its execution.

Silly and occasionally cheap looking though it may be, Arena still packs a punch and with all its groovy monsters and creatures is well worth a look off the standard action movie track.

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