Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man


 from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

"If there is a heaven and a God, hey, I'd like to meet the dude and hang out with him"

 - the Mickey Rourke philosophy -

I think Road House is probably the most comparable movie to Harley/Marlboro, because they both have unbelievable over-the-top villainy, the violent death of the best friends of the protagonists, absurd macho posturing, hilariously (intentionally??) bad dialogue, cartoon violence, and professional wrestlers in the cast (I guess Terry Funk was too old for this one, but they got Big John Studd to fill in nicely). It's appropriate that they used wrestlers in the cast, because you'll see that this movie could, in fact, be a running plot thread for the WWE. If you told me Vince McMahon wrote it, I wouldn't be surprised for a minute. The protagonists are a biker (Mickey Rourke as Harley Davidson) and a sharpshootin' rodeo cowpoke (Don Johnson as the Marlboro Man). A biker and a cowboy could easily be a WWE tag team. 

Where to begin? Our heroes have a good friend, an elderly father figure, who is about to lose his road house, which is trapped among skyscrapers in the middle of a future Burbank. The suits want to tear down the iconic watering hole in iorder to erect another bland skyscraper. The lovable geezer's lease expires in two weeks, and the bank wants $2.5 million cash for a new five-year lease. There's only one way our penniless heroes can help. They have to rob that very bank to pay off the lease - the same thing you or I would have done in their shoes ... er ... boots.

They rob an appropriate armored car, but are immediately confronted by two surprises:

1) The armored car's back-up is five guys in bulletproof Kevlar overcoats (including a lesser Baldwin). Since they arrive in their limo within about a minute of the heist, one assumes that they drive around LA all day long in these long overcoats, carrying their automatic weapons.

2) Our heroes give these bulletproof guys the slip by sneaking down a manhole into a truck they had hidden in the drainage canals, only to find that instead of money they managed to hijack a zillion dollars worth of a new, dangerous, highly addictive drug.

So now they have to work a deal where they trade the drugs for some cash. The bulletproof guys do the swap uneventfully, but they show up at the road house a few minutes later (turns out they planted a homing device in the money), and they kill everyone in there except Rourke and Johnson. This means that they slaughtered four of our boys' best friends, including the beloved geezer who owned the Roadhouse. Now the boys are pissed.

They escape from the bulletproof guys by jumping 15 stories into a hotel pool in Vegas, while the Kevlar Korps rains down machine gun fire from the roof into the pool. Did I mention that Harley and Marlboro got to Vegas in the luggage compartment of a jet? Macho guys don't worry about any of that sissy cabin pressure stuff. They kick Bulletproof Baldwin's ass in an airplane graveyard, thus earning them the right to take on Mr Big, the multilingual banker who runs drugs for a living. Well, Bigster is just about to have them killed by some spare bulletproof guys when an armed helicopter shows up outside Big's office window and blasts away with the forward cannons, destroying all the windows and everything in the office, and killing the last of the bulletproof dudes. I didn't make that up. The lads did have $2.5 million dollars, after all, so they hired a helicopter to blast away. As movie luck would have it, they found a helicopter pilot who had no qualms about flying up to the window of a bank CEO and slaughtering everyone in his office.

Our boys reach closure by pushing Big out of his shattered window, then they ride off to be in a rodeo. There are no investigations of any kind. They are free to go about their business.

The one thing that keeps this movie from being as good/bad as Roadhouse is that Roadhouse took itself seriously, and is filled with gravitas and somber declarations. I'm pretty sure the filmmakers had no idea how bad it was. On the other hand, these Harley/Marlboro guys obviously knew the movie was silly, and they hammed it up. Harley even makes cavalier jokes when their friends are slaughtered, something the uber-serious philosopher/bouncer Dalton (Patrick Swayze) would never have done.

OK, so this film is not as much fun as Road House, but what is? I pay Harley/Marlboro the highest compliment a bad movie can get - it is almost as much fun as Road House.

DVD info from Amazon

Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

No significant features



There is a naked woman (Mitzi Martin) in the opening scene with Rourke. We see all of her except her pubic area.

Chelsea Field is naked (tastefully turned away from the camera) in a love scene with Johnson

Bobbie Tyler is a stripper who removes her top in close-up, then dances in the background of a scene.


Tuna's comments:

A few points Scoop missed:

  • Harley leaves Texas on his bike, goes through Las Vegas, then goes over the Altamont Pass, and comes down into Burbank, California. Unfortunately, the Altamont is between Oakland and Sacramento, 400 miles north of Burbank.
  • Much of the action takes place in the Air Force boneyard at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. Our boys get there by hopping a fence from the Burbank airport.
  • They jump 40 stories into the hotel pool, kicking their legs the entire way. If they had actually hit the water spread-legged as pictured, the actual fall would have given them massive chlorinated enemas and very sore testicles.
  • Although Johnson is the world's greatest shot, he isn't the world's greatest thinker. He can't figure out why he can't kill the bulletproof guys until the third shoot-out, when he finally realizes that their heads are unprotected.


The Critics Vote ...

  • no major reviews online
  • The People Vote ...

    • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 4.7. Oh, yeah, it is that bad, but that's such a humorless way to look at life.

    • With their dollars ... domestic gross: $7 million
    No rating.

    This film is unrateable. It is a movie so bad that it is good. It can best be compared to Roadhouse - a movie so completely awful in every way that it provides non-stop entertainment and is a sheer delight to watch.

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