A Strangely Forgotten Sylvester Stallone Blockbuster Is Streaming Right Now

The Specialist, starring Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone, is a forgotten hit of the 90's, that is frequently cited as being "so bad it's good."

By Douglas Helm | Published

Sylvester Stallone in The Specialist

One of Sylvester Stallone’s most successful blockbusters of the 1990s is available to stream on Tubi right now. So, is it Cliffhanger or Demolition Man? No, it’s the largely forgotten The Specialist.

The Specialist follows Sylvester Stallone as a hitman and former CIA demolitions expert who is contracted to kill a family of mobsters. Along with Stallone, the film stars Sharon Stone, James Woods, Eric Roberts, Rod Steiger, Mario Ernesto Sanchez, Sergio Dore Jr, Chase Randolph, and Jeana Bell. Luis Llosa directed with a script by Alexandra Seros based on the book by John Shirley.

Nowadays, the lasting legacy of The Specialist is Gloria Estefan’s version of “Turn the Beat Around” on the soundtrack, but the film was pretty successful upon its release. It managed to open at $14.3 million during its opening weekend in 1994 and ended its theater run with a worldwide gross of $170 million. It was actually Sylvester Stallone’s third highest-grossing movie at the box office in the 1990s.

The Specialist finished at number one during its opening weekend but fell to number two during its second weekend. Interestingly, The Specialist falling to number two is a bit of a point of contention in movie box office history. Pulp Fiction is the movie that knocked it out of the top spot, but some dispute Miramax Films’ claimed gross of $9.3 million (though there’s little debate as to which movie deserved the number one spot).

So, why don’t most people think of The Specialist when they think of Sylvester Stallone’s best 90s films? Probably because most people hate it. The film was widely panned by critics and currently has a 10% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 29% audience score.

In fact, Sylvester Stallone’s third most successful film of the 90s was nominated for quite a few Golden Raspberry awards, aka the anti-Oscars. While Sly was nominated for Worst Actor, he didn’t end up with the win. Sharon Stone ended up winning the Golden Raspberry for Worst Actress, and Stallone and Stone tied for Worst Screen Couple with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt from Interview with the Vampire.

Sharon Stone and James Woods in The Specialist

In short, The Specialist probably isn’t a huge point of pride for Sylvester Stallone in his career. Fortunately, the Rocky actor has had many projects since then, the most recent of which is his hit show Tulsa King, which is currently available to stream on Paramount+. Tulsa King stars Stallone as a New York mafia capo who is exiled to Tulsa, Oklahoma after his stint in prison.

Tulsa King had tons of viewers, is well-liked by critics and audiences alike, and has been renewed for a second season. Sylvester Stallone should keep this success train rolling, as he has two massive blockbusters coming out in 2023. We’ll get to see Sly in both The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and The Expendables 4 later this year.

While we wait for some good projects from Sylvester Stallone, you could always see just how bad The Specialist is. Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson did put it in his book on the list of “The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made”. Check it out on Tubi if you want to find out why.