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C. Courtney Joyner
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 ...
All bets are off at a corrupt intergalactic fighting competition where a system removes the fighter's advantage, no matter what species and puts them on an even standing.
Made and released in the UK in 1989, like Robot Jox, Crash & Burn, Oblivion and other Charles Band productions the lack of money is obvious but this B-film captures the imagination which many larger budgeted films fail to do. Arena taps into a time when fighting films had peaked and Rocky was deep rooted in the conciseness along with WWF specials. Director Peter Manoogian offers plenty of showdowns. His direction is fine and many of the makeup and special effects still hold up.
In a cast of outlandish aliens Claudia Christian features as Quinn and the Christopher Reeve-a-like Paul Satterfield's Steve Armstrong works as the stereotype hero.
Despite its clichés and the fact it was never going to win any Oscars its many references to other science fictions and fresh concept makes it an enjoyable low budget science fiction.
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