Barb Wire [1996]

Remember the old days, when Pamela Anderson Lee was still just a Playboy Playmate turned Baywatch babe? You know--back before the bootleg release of her infamous home video with then-husband and ne'er-do-well rocker Tommy Lee, at which time the whole world got to compare Pam's barely adequate acting chops with her formidable skill at fellatio? Yes, those were the days (1996, to be exact), when a movie like Barb Wire represented dubious progress for the busty blonde, who was determined to make as big a splash on the big-screen as she did in the world's most popular syndicated TV series. Set in the year 2017 when the Second Civil War is in full force, this sci-fi action thriller stars Pam in the title role--a leather-clad biker babe ("don't call me babe," she warns) who runs a nightclub in the last free city in America. The rest of country is controlled by the "Congressional Directorate," a dictatorial superpower which suspects Barb of trafficking in black-market contraband. That gets her into plenty of trouble (and a lot of cleavage-revealing costumes), and ... well, if any of this sounds even vaguely familiar, it's because this comic book-inspired movie is really just a shamelessly breast-enhanced variation on Casablanca, with Pam Anderson in the Bogart role. Taken for what it is, it's a brazen folly with action to spare, and as guilty pleasures go it's surprisingly enjoyable. What--you were expecting Oscar material? --Jeff Shannon

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