C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C- Film: C-
Tough Enough (1983) is a countrified Rocky wannabe that just isn't good
enough. It feels as if it were made to cash in on trends from
the era in which it was produced: The underdog-triumphs Cinderella
story of Rocky combined
with the Southern-fried atmosphere that characterized a lot
of popular movies during the late 1970s and early 1980s -- a time when
Burt Reynolds was the No. 1 box-office star, Clint Eastwood made a couple
of hit movies co-starring an orangutan, John Travolta played an Urban Cowboy and Dolly Parton was
just becoming a film star.
Quaid stars as Art Long, the film's Rocky Balboa figure.
Art is struggling to make a living at a regular job he
hates, but has a passion for singing Country & Western music.
Art dreams of pursuing a career as a Country singer, but has a wife
(Carlene Watkins) and young son to support.
while walking down a Fort Worth, Texas street, Art sees a sign advertising
a local toughman contest promising a $5,000 payday to the winner. He
signs up and soon finds himself competing in a boxing tournament run by a
shady promoter named Neese (Warren Oates). The winner of the Fort
Worth tournament will take home $5,000 and move on to a bigger
tournament in Detroit against other "toughest men" from around
the U.S. that pays $100,000 to the winner.
black boxer named P.T. (Stan Shaw) gets cheated from victory by Neese, he
ends up volunteering to be Art's manager. With P.T. in his corner, Art,
now nicknamed the Country & Western Warrior, ends up winning
in Fort Worth. And because Neese promises him a chance to sing on
national television, Art agrees to participate in the Detroit finals.
wife, P.T and P.T's girlfriend (Pam Grier) in tow, it's off
to the Motor City for predictable results -- Art's father (Wilford
Brimley) initially says he won't make the trip to Detroit to see his
son fight, but this is the kind of movie where it comes as no surprise when
he shows up anyway.
Tough Enough is one of the later films of
the undervalued Richard Fleischer (The
Vikings, The Boston Strangler, Soylent Green), who wasn't
getting offers to direct much top-drawer material by this point.
It's also the last film released starring Oates, who died in April, 1982 of a
heart attack at the age of 53. This one was filmed before, but
got released a couple weeks after Blue
Thunder, the final film Oates acted in.
entertaining moments in the unconvincing, mostly forgettable Tough Enough come from the parade
of colorful characters who participate in the toughman competitions, and a
funny scene in which Art performs a zany song for his little
boy called "The Jungle"
(written by Quaid himself).
Tough Enough is the latest Fox catalog
title released by Anchor Bay. It's presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic
widescreen with Dolby Digital Mono sound. The only extras are the
original theatrical trailer for this film and three other Fox titles currently
available on DVD from Anchor Bay, Downtown,
Death Hunt and Off Limits.
- Chuck O'Leary