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Steve Armstrong is a human short-order cook in a fast food restaurant on a "starstation" where the most popular arena fighting tournament in the whole galaxy is held. Members of various alien species fight one on one, often dirty, to become the ruling champions of the galaxy. The restaurant's sole waiter and Steve's boss is Shorty, a short four-armed scheming humanoid alien. When Steve saves Shorty from a particularly unpleasant and violent alien guest, they're both fired by the restaurant's automated A.I. for brawling. Shorty shows gratitude and they become friends. However, without jobs, they'll both be kicked off the space station. Thankfully, Quinn, a human female no-nonsense fighting promoter, who's in quick need of new fighters, hears about Steve's fight with the alien guest and offers him sponsorship. Human fighters have traditionally been defeated easily by naturally tougher alien fighters in previous tournaments and Steve would be a real underdog. Shorty manages to convince ...
One man's dream. Is an intergalactic championship.
Held in a space station is an intergalactic fighting competition that pits all kind of species in the arena of endurance, ability and strength. There hasn't been a human victor in over 50 years and Steve Armstrong decides to take up the challenge, after his friend finds himself in trouble. However to take that crown of champion he must defeat the hideously cocky Horn and overcome attempts by a devious promoter Rogor. Who's trying to stop Steve's advancement through the competition.
I really wanted to relish in "Arena", because for an extremely low budget production (it simply tells), it illustrated a colourful universe and a magnificent range of distinguishable species (think of Star Wars). Sure it doesn't have state of the art visuals, but those limitations didn't worry it and the overall junky and tackiness of it play into its own hands. Who produced this low-end Sci-fi romp? Well, no other than full moon's Charles Brand. So the campy richness and b-grade fixtures were assured from the get-go.
Though, I guess I better get to the point to why I found it to be lacking poise. From very beginning we know how the standard storyline will play out. An underdog theme trumps in as we watch our protagonist start small with obstacles standing in his way and then eventually end a big high note. This predictable pattern is made more foreseeable with the good guys vs. bad guys context. It's pretty old-hat stuff, but one gets used to after a while even if there's a change of scenery to the mix. But this was lesser of its worries. Its main showpiece was the arena and fighting competition itself. Too bad the fight scenes were too few and goofily staged. I was disappointed on this aspect. They lacked any real sort of adrenaline, force and at times completely drag with the same repetitive activity. The only real fight that stood out for me took place outside the arena, when Steve shows us what his made of. I wouldn't blame someone who thinks this is more so a costume show, as Steve is in one fancy looking nappy outfit.
Peter Manoogian's direction is workably sub-par, but lacks flair in his vision. The photography is quite stuffy and trumping in is Richard Brand's cornball music score. Those filming techniques might not blow you away, but they are acceptably achieved. John Carl Buechler's make-up is detailed (though not always perfect) and adds the to the film's spirit. The cold script is flooded with ineptness, but thankfully it's laced with agreeably witty banter. The performances aren't anything special, but solid enough. Paul Strathfield makes a likable working class heroine, if not much else. There's the familiar face of the succulent and biting Claudia Christian. Eye candy is in the shape of Shari Shattuck. Marco Alaimo goes out of his way to look and act real sinister as Rogor. Hamilton Camp and Armin Shimerman play the supporting roles in mostly a comical tone.
Dreams can come true, but that wasn't entirely the case here. Rather than be exciting, it's diverting at best.
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