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No Contest

1994, Starring Shannon Tweed, Robert Davi, Andrew Dice Clay, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. Directed by Paul Lynch.

Paul Lynch's No Contest is a campy take off on Die Hard starring Shannon Tweed (in a rare, clothed role) as a kick boxing ex-beauty queen. Lynch (Prom Night, Bullies) manages to go through a record number of squibs in this violent straight-to-video effort made in Toronto.

Something's rotten at the "Ms Galaxy" pageant. Ex-Ms Galaxy and current B-movie star of films like "Tae Kwon Doll," Sharon Bell (Tweed) is hosting the event at a swanky hotel. Between watching shots of the girls changing in and out of their pageant clothes, she finds time to flirt with pockmarked personal bodyguard Crane (as played by Robert Davi). Crane has been hired by Ms America's father, a senator, to protect his little girl from the dangers of the international pageantry circuit. Hey, you never know when some crazed maniac will take a beauty pageant hostage!

Suddenly, a crazed maniac takes a beauty pageant hostage. When Crane steps out for a smoke, a flower delivery van drives into a loading bay of the hotel. Two men make their way to the stage, shooting security guards along the way. Just as the winner is announced, one of the men (Oz, as played by Andrew Dice Clay), goes on stage and presents the winner with flowers. Then he pulls out his gun and shoots her in cold blood. The place erupts, and the audience is allowed to escape while Oz locks the doors and hustles the contestants (including Sharon) together into one of the luxury suites. To discourage any thoughts of escape, Oz puts complex digital wristbands on the girls. If any of the wristbands stray to far from the others, it explodes. To prove this to the audience, Ms Germany runs out of the room and, well, explodes.

Oz's monosyllabic henchmen include Vic, Ice, Cal, Q and Zed. Besides the Diceman, you'll immediately recognize Roddy Piper as Ice, but there's some Canadians lurking in there too Cal is played by the same oddly coifed actor that played Johnny on that laughable Canadian Fame rip-off Catwalk, and Vic is better known these days as Davinci from CBC's Davinci's Inquest.

Outside of the hotel, the cops have all arrived, and Crane (who was locked out) starts working with them on a way to penetrate the hotel's security. They get a call from Oz, who tells them that he wants $10 million in diamonds in return for the safety of his hostages. When the cops send in two unfortunate officers to try and stop them, Cal and Zed use a remote controlled machine gun to blow them away from the safety of the basement control room.

Upstairs, Oz deactivates the wristband on one of the girls and takes her to an adjacent bedroom. We soon learn that this is Oz's girlfriend and that she is in on the plan. Seeing seduction as a possibility for escape, Sharon comes on to Vic and, after getting him to deactivate her wristband, leads him down into the hotel pool. After a little foreplay, she kicks him into said pool, grabbing his gun and cell phone. In a vacant stairwell she calls Crane and he explains that she has to get to the control room to deactivate the wristbands and the building's defenses. She climbs into an air duct to avoid detection by the security cameras, and happens to see Oz and his girlfriend plotting their diamond-studded escape.

Just when she begins piecing everything together, she realizes that her explosive wristband has been remotely re-activated. She quickly exits into an adjacent room and calls Crane, who walks her through the steps needed to take off the wristband without setting it off.

Meanwhile, a wet and embarrassed Vic makes his way to the control room, and tells Cal how Sharon tricked him. Oz is there waiting for him and rewards him with a bullet in the chest. On the security cameras, Cal finds Sharon sneaking around in the kitchen and sends Ice and Zed after her. Still making her way to the control room, Sharon escapes from Ice and shoots Zed dead. She also discovers that the flower van is full of explosives. When she finally arrives in the basement, she ties Cal to a hot water pipe and blows out all the control room computers. Via walkie-talkie, Oz tells Sharon to get upstairs before he shoots another beauty queen. She quickly high-tails it to the suite, but the damage has been done the bracelets and the defenses have been turned off and the cops storm the building. But that's still not the end of this film. Oz has wired his pulse into the bombs so that if his heart stops, they will explode. The senator has arrived with the diamonds, and Crane learns the rest of the facts Oz used to work for the Senator, and is really after revenge.

Unlike other Paul Lynch films, which tend to approach their subject with a more or less straight face, No Contest is filled with in-jokes which depend on the viewer taking a somewhat detached view of the film. Lynch is aware his films are violent, and this film was made just after his appearance on Donahue where he defended the violence in his film Bullies. As a snide comment on this, Ms Germany says in her pageant speech that " violence in films must not destroy family values." That is before she blows up, of course. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper watches professional wrestling on TV, a nod to his roots as the original bad man with a kilt, and lets not forget that Shannon Tweed plays the almost identically named " Sharon Bell," a star of B-movies.

The most annoying aspect of No Contest has to be the music. The virtually non-stop score is intrusive and not particularly suspenseful. Sticklers on such things as "plot logic" or even "believability" may also be disappointed with No Contest, while others may laugh at the improbable concept of the action movie star who can actually fight in real life. At one point, Cal refers to Sharon as "Bruce Lee with boobs," and I think that this statement was probably tossed around in a boardroom when this film was being green-lighted. And it seems to be a successful formula, because Lynch followed up this film with No Contest 2.

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