Arena (1989) Review

Arena (1989)Arena (1989)


Ah the 80s. If you had an idea no matter how out there then you could get enough money and a decent crew with the right equipment to make your film.

Something sadly lacking these days.

So Arena stars Paul Satterfield, Jr. as Steve Armstrong who is eking out a living on a space station having given up on his dreams of competing in an intergalactic boxing sport called “the Arena” seeing as Humans are looked down upon and traditionally don’t do well in the fights.

He wants to return home to earth but manages to get himself and his friend Shorty sacked while defending his friend when he beats up fight promoter Quinn’s (played by Babylon 5 favourite Claudia Christian) top fighter.

She ask him to fight for her by getting her corner crew to attack him which should show up a few warning signs to which he declines.
Steve and Shorty fall into debt to crooked fight promoter Rogor played by Marc Alaimo who you have seen in a lot of Sci-Fi or action films from this time.

So Steve ends up fighting aliens and here we get to why this is a gem. Men in rubber suits as aliens with wonderful animatronic face masks that struggle to match the facial expressions needed especially for the words spoken.
Love it.
So he has to fight this giant bug-like creature but it seems the fights are supposed to be fair by the use of a gravity ray to equal out any advantages one fighter may have leading me to ask why have humans done so poorly if they give the stronger fighter a handicap?

The fights like everything else are cheesy but like everything else in this film they are fun. It did take me a while to get used to the outfit worn by Steve, did no-one in pre-production look at what he was wearing and think we can do better?
It also seems that Paul Satterfield, Jr. is playing this role as laid back as possible. When he gets angry I thought it was because someone had misplaced his weed.
Shorty on the other hand has enough personality for two as well as enough arms for two. With four arms achieved by using the classic second person hiding behind the actor technique very effectively.

Also appearing is Armin Shimerman fondly remembered as Star Trek’s Quark as Rogon’s go to guy for all the less than savoury jobs.

Silly premise and silly story with silly outfits and all round silliness so take it at face value and you will have an entertaining time.