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Slammers of the Silver Screen – Bam Bam Bigelow in Snake Eater III: His Law

snake eaters iii

Sports Entertainment is a term that Vince McMahon uses as an endearing way to describe the product that he puts out under the banner of World Wrestling Entertainment, yet one that makes most longtime wrestling fans roll their eyes. Although the sport of professional wrestling has always featured a certain level of theatrics, many fans feel the term insults their intelligence. While McMahon has tried to parlay his wrestling success into becoming a Hollywood powerhouse, he’s never ascended to the level he sees himself at. Despite going as far as creating his own WWE Studios to release a variety of films featuring the behemoths he employs, wrestling superstars were wheeling and dealing their way into acting gigs long before McMahon’s vanity project came to fruition.

These days it’s not hard to spot a former world class wrestler on the big screen; two of McMahon’s former franchise stars, The Rock and Dave Bautista, are involved with two of the biggest film franchises going today. Yet for every Fast & Furious sequel or Marvel movie, there are more than a few films featuring wrestlers that have been forgotten in time. They are the overlooked and underwhelming; the low budget busts and late night cable classics. They are the films that will be the subject of this column going forward; a look at how some of wrestling’s best remembered brawlers made movie history…for better or worse.

For this first column, my good friend and fellow Fight Game contributor Justin Knipper sat back to watch Snake Eater III: His Law, the third and final installment in an action trilogy starring 90s action mainstay Lorenzo Lamas. Many of you are probably wondering why I started my column by discussing the third film in a series, but it’s OK; none of the Snake Eater films are tied together outside of Lamas’ “Solider” Kelly character, and neither part 1 or 2 featured the “Beast From The East” Bam Bam Bigelow!

It’s not out of the ordinary for wrestlers to play against type these days, but for Bam Bam, the makers of Snake Eater III went the obvious route. Bigelow was a standout in professional wrestling not just for the ability to maneuver around the ring like a cruiserweight despite weighing over 300 pounds, but for his iconic look. If you saw a man that large, dressed in attire that’s covered in flames, with a tattooed head and missing teeth coming your way, you’d run for cover! It’s those attributes that led to him being cast as Goose, the leader of a sadistic biker gang that Soldier Kelly has been hired to put an end to. In fact, outside of his biker vest, Bigelow is dressed nearly exactly as he was during his in-ring encounters with the likes of One Man Gang and Andre The Giant.

Since I had seen Snake Eater III previously upon release and it’s a film that resides in my movie collection, I thought it would be fun to let someone bear witness to Bigelow’s big screen debut. Admittedly it’s not a film for everyone; though it may seem like your typical 90’s direct to video fare, there is a level of discomfort and sleaze to the film akin to a 70s grindhouse flick. I know that Justin’s willingness to watch almost anything is equivalent to mine, so I was curious to hear his thoughts on this one.

snake eaters iiiJustin’s review: 1992’s Snake Eater III: His Law was everything I imagined it’d be—just worse.

This straight-to-video non-classic was directed by George Erschbamer, the special effects guy from First Blood and Rocky IV, among others.

Lorenzo Lamas plays “Soldier” Jack Kelly, a bootleg version of John Rambo and star of the Snake Eater’s franchise. His character and plot are supposedly based on a P.I. novel Rafferty’s Rules. Supposedly.

The movie opens with Soldier breaking up a robbery at a diner in the middle of the afternoon. I’m not sure why a diner cash register was the object of this criminal’s desire, but it was. Soldier, who was just in the neighborhood, peaked in the window and saw what was going down. Can you guess what he did next? I bet you can’t.

Not only did Soldier break up the robbery, but he did so by also pretending to rob the diner.

Logic and taste were out the window in Snake Eater III before we even hit the five-minute mark while cartoonish, rather enjoyable violence reigned supreme for the next hour and a half.

Minutes after the diner debacle, Soldier is contacted by a ”rich” family to find their missing daughter. I guess we’re to believe this family is rich because the mother had an English accent.

The family explains that their daughter was kidnapped by a motorcycle gang and they turned her into a sex zombie, more or less. She actually shows up at the end of this scene and starts pulling her panties down for Soldier before her father stops her.

Bikers, man.

Soldier then spends the rest of the movie killing motorcycle gangsters around town, and in outrageous ways, like when he kills co-star, Scott “Bam Bam” Bigelow with an electrified toilet.

Oh, yeah. Bam Bam Bigelow is in this.

This was Bam Bam’s on-screen debut as Goose, a sadistic biker with flames on his head, in his loins, and nothing but hate in his heart. He was an in-demand newcomer in the late ‘80s and had made a name for himself based on his trademark bald head covered in flame tattoos. By the early ‘90s, Bigelow was working all over the world, from Japan to the U.S. to Mexico and beyond, but also began entertaining non-wrestling gigs like this one.

Bam Bam turned out to be a great promo in wrestling, but you’d never be able to tell from the wretched script he could barely memorize. He engaged in some ludicrous violence before getting electrocuted to death on a trap toilet, as mentioned earlier. Oddly, that scene happens about halfway into the movie, so, really, Bam Bam doesn’t star in this, per se. He shows up early and leaves early, too. It basically amounts to a raunchier, dumber version of the awesome bully he plays in Damon Wayans’ Major Payne a few years later, post-Lawerence Taylor.

What more can I say about Snake Eater III? Not much. Check this one out only if you’re a diehard action buff, because regardless of the script’s idiocy, piss-poor acting, superfluous nudity for the sake of boobs in an action flick, it’s a somewhat fun to watch. Let your guard down, invite some friends to watch along, because you can’t help but crack up at lines “The only thing you’re gonna do is die … and like it!”

I can’t say that I echo all of Justin’s thoughts, because underneath that layer of filth, there is some charm to it. It doesn’t have any particularly memorable scenes outside of Bigelow getting fried by his commode, but Lamas has always been a likable hero and thrived in films like this, which led him to a post-Snake Eater starring role on the hit syndicated TV series Renegade. Given that the final battle in this film was between Soldier, his buddy Cowboy, and a few generic heel biker boys, it would have been better for Bigelow to be the “big boss” that has to be defeated. His presence feels more underwhelming than completely wasted, as if the producers knew what they had in mind for him, but struggled to go all the way with it. Soon after Snake Eater III, Bigelow would return to the World Wrestling Federation as a vicious heel, a role that he relished and which he portrayed for much of the remainder of his career. Lamas himself would also wind up involved in wrestling some 25 years later, portraying the corrupt councilman Delgado on several episodes of Lucha Underground. Ironically, his death on that program (having his head punched off by Brian Cage in one of the movie portions of the program) may be considered more memorable to wrestling fans than any of the films he’s done.

Snake Eater III may not go down in film history, but wrestling fans may be interested in seeing Bigelow being a bit more sadistic on screen than he was in the ring. If you’re curious to see a WrestleMania main eventer die with his flame covered pants down, then this is the film for you. Check it out for free via the Tubi streaming service.

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