Barb Wire (1996)

based on a comic book


Ah...the comic book Bad Girls of the 1990s. Lady Death, Witchblade, Shi, Purgatori, Barb Wire. Good times.

In the 1996 film attempt to cash in on Bad Girl popularity, Pamela Anderson Lee is Barb Wire, a "different kind of mercenary." The year is 2017, after the second American Civil War, the US is run by a fascist regime, and there's one free city left in the States: Steel Harbor. That's what the opening text tells us. And that's what Barb Wire narrates almost word-for-word nearly 10 minutes later after she does an erotic dance going undercover for one of her jobs.

Like a lot comics of the 90s, Barb Wire is more style than substance. The acting is wooden. The dialogue sounds like it was written by a bad writer who's just watched too many action films. Maybe I'm romancing them, but this film makes Arnold's 80s movies look like Oscar-deserving cinema.

Pamela even picked up a tagline for herself in this film. Arnold has "I'll be back" and now Pamela has "Don't call me 'Babe'."

But, there is something about the spectacle. And I've always been drawn to the dystopian future. The action's almost fun in places, and the technology is at least a little interesting.

Barb Wire is based on the Dark Horse comic, from their Comics Greatest World imprint. In 2008, Dark Horse collected the entire Barb Wire run in one of their popular Omnibuses.

Notable cast. The cast is a veritable who's who of random comic book roles.
Pamela Anderson Lee played Invisible Girl in Superhero Movie, and voiced Stripperella in Stan Lee's famed cartoon of the same name.
Barb's foil, Alexander Willis, is played Xander Berkeley. Berkely began his comic-book-related roles back in The Incredible Hulk in 1982. Most recently he played Detective Gigante in Kick-Ass (that's out today!). Voice work in animated roles include The Tick, Superman: TAS, Spawn, Batman Beyond, Justice League, Spider-Man (2003), Teen Titans, The Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.
Clint Howard (Schmitz) is one of those character actors whose face you recognize, but whose name you don't. He's been in Heroes, Super Capers, The Rocketeer, and The Haunted World of El Superbeasto.
Udo Kier (Curly) is similarly familiar. You've seen him in Blade and you've heard him in Justice League and The Batman.
Tommy Lister was in The Dark Knight, as well as Super Capers.
Temuera Morrison (Axel) was in Blueberry and will be Abin Sur in the upcoming Green Lantern film.
Jack Noseworthy (Charlie) played Strickland in Surrogates.
Addendum: How could I forget character actor Nicholas Worth (creepy Ruben who picks up Barb Wire), from Darkman and Swamp Thing

See it if you rate your actions films by how well they balance the trifecta: violence, nudity, and adult language.
Don't see it if you like your comic book films to have more substance than style.

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