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Barb Wire

Entry updated 4 April 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1996). Polygram Film Entertainment. Directed by David Hogan. Written by Chuck Pfarrer and Ilene Chaiken, from a story by Chaiken; based on the Comics character created by Chris Warren for Dark Horse Comics. Cast includes Amir Aboulela, Pamela Anderson, Xander Berkeley, Temuera Morrison, Steve Railsback and Victoria Rowell. 98 minutes. Colour.

2017: a Dystopian Near Future America with civil war intensifying, and the government applying increasing force in futile attempts to control unrest. Barbara "Barb Wire" Kopetski (Anderson) owns the Hammerhead Nightclub in Steel Harbour, Michigan – a neutral City in the conflict – and is also an occasional bounty hunter and mercenary. Her club is raided by Chief of Police Willis (Berkeley), searching for Dr Corrina "Cora D" Devonshire (Rowell), who worked on a biological Weapon for the government but is now on the run. Axel Hood (Morrison) asks for Barb's help in obtaining contact lenses for Devonshire so she can evade retinal scan devices at Steel Harbour airport when fleeing with Hood into Canada. Barb and Hood were romantically involved years before; she agrees to help the pair and soon obtains the lenses, but decides to double-cross them, and sell the lenses instead to black-market gang leader "Big Fatso" (Brown) for one million dollars and a trip to Canada for herself. Fatso double-crosses Barb in return: when she, Axel, and Corrina arrive to make the deal, they find Chief of Police Willis and a squad of soldiers waiting for them at Fatso's junkyard. Willis apparently arrests Barb, but actually slips her a hand grenade with which she kills Fatso, setting off a chase. This culminates in a fight atop an upraised forklift between Barb and Colonel Pryzer (Railsback), head of the biological weapons project. Barb kills Pryzer and escapes, later rejoining the others and revealing she still has the contact lenses. She gives these to Corrina and Axel after all, and – with Willis, who has fallen in love with her – finally watches their aeroplane depart.

A major box office failure, Barb Wire tried to capitalize on the popularity of Anderson's stardom in the series Baywatch (1989-2001); she was heavily criticized for her performance, though the script is admittedly poor. Film critic Roger Ebert pointed out that the plot was mostly lifted from Casablanca (1942). Barb Wire was nominated for various "worst of the year" awards, winning several. Nevertheless some praised the fight sequence between Anderson – who did some of her own stunts – and Railsback. [GSt]


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