Sylvester Stallone Underrated Sports Drama, Stream Right Now

By Jason Collins | Published

over the top

Rocky and the subsequent film series it birthed is probably Sylvester Stallone’s best-known sports drama, but it’s far from being the only one. Debuting in 1987, Over the Top is yet another American sports drama starring Sylvester Stallone that, despite being completely underrated, still made its way to streaming for fans to enjoy.

Over The Top

over the top

Over the Top follows the journey of Stallone’s Lincoln Hawk, a struggling truck driver who also arm wrestles for extra cash. His estranged wife, Christina, who’s suffering from heart disease, asks Hawk to pick up their young son Michael from military school and develop a relationship with him after Hawk abandoned them ten years prior. We won’t spoil the movie further, but we’ll add that, despite not receiving the same acclaim as some of Stallone’s other works, Over the Top still deserves recognition for its (at the time) novel story, compelling characters, and powerful themes.

A Unique Focus

What really sets Over the Top apart from all the other sports dramas of the time is the sport itself. Most sports films of the time focused on boxing, American football, track and field, and basketball, but Stirling Silliphant and Sylvester Stallone decided to focus on a sport that isn’t as widely represented in movies or media in general—the ruthless world of arm wrestling. Stallone, who is known for his dedication to his portrayals, underwent intense training to convincingly portray Hawk as a truck-driving arm wrestler, which added a layer of authenticity to the film.   

The Razzies Attacked

over the top

At its core, however, Over the Top is a story about redemption, perseverance, and the power of family love, with Lincoln trying to reconnect with his son while pursuing his goal of becoming an arm-wrestling champion. The story idea is great, and the themes it explores are definitely worth exploring–however, the execution of the idea was poorly managed. This resulted in really poor reviews from the critics and mixed reviews from the audiences, leading to three nominations at the 8th Golden Raspberry Awards in 1988.

A Flop From Every Angle

The poor performance reflected a somewhat troubled production resulting from creative conflicts that hadn’t surfaced until after the movie was done. Namely, Stallone publicly stated that he would have done some things differently, like placing the narrative in a more urban environment, scoring the original music, and making the arm-wrestling championship in Vegas more ominous and not so carnival-like. Ultimately, Over the Top wasn’t just a failure with the critics but also a massive box office flop since its earnings of $16 million failed to match the production budget of $25 million.

Judge For Yourself

Yet, despite its shortcomings, Over the Top managed to gain a dedicated following among fans of cult classic cinema, with Sylvester Stallone’s portrayal of Lincoln Hawk becoming iconic in its own rights. The movie deserves a bit more recognition, if for nothing else, than for its unique blend of emotional storytelling and thrilling arm-wrestling scenes accompanied by an endless stream of rock songs. Those interested in watching Over the Top can watch the movie on streaming—it’s currently available on Roku, YouTube, hoopla, Tubi, and Pluto TV.