If someone wanted to make a case that arm wrestling is just as thrilling as any other one-on-one sport, they should use the 1987 Sylvester Stallone movie Over the Top to prove it. At its core, this is a story about a man and his son. However, most mainstream films need a hook, so we are led to believe from the poster that this movie is mostly about arm wrestling. But it’s far more than that.
Stallone plays Lincoln Hawk, a truck driver who arm wrestles on the side to make some extra money. He’s asked by his estranged wife, Christina (Susan Blakely), to pick up their 10-year-old son, Michael (David Mendenhall), from military school in Colorado. Michael has never met his father and has only been untruthfully told by maternal grandfather Jason Cutler (Robert Loggia) that his dad is a drug-dealing loser. Jason also hid the letters that Hawk wrote to Michael over the years. Michael thinks his father doesn’t want him, so he has no love for him in return.
Hawk and Michael are on their way to California to see Christina in the hospital as she undergoes heart surgery. Brainwashed with his contempt for his father, Michael is unhappy about the situation and even tries to run away a few times. But Hawk isn’t giving up. He loves his son and regrets leaving, vowing never to do so again. There are some great shots of the open road and desert landscape as they trek through the beautiful American southwest to try and work out their relationship.