Hulk Hogan is hardly known for his acting ability, although for a brief period he certainly made a go of it.
Throughout the ’90s, the Hulkster appeared in a handful of movies, most memorably 1993’s Mr. Nanny. He followed up on the moderate success of Mr. Nanny with not one, but THREE films in 1996: a cameo in Spy Hard, something called Santa with Muscles (don’t worry, it’s on the Christmas watchlist), and The Secret Agent Club.
Hogan stars as Ray Chase, a world-class secret agent who maintains a cover as a single father and owner and proprietor of a toy store. Naturally, his cover includes removing his wig and fake moustache and feigning slapstick clumsiness at all times around his unsuspecting son, world-class whinge-bag Jeremy (Matthew McCurley). Luckily, Ray also has a trusted employee at his “toy store”, Mr. Yamata (James Hong, although don’t get excited, he has about 3 minutes of screen time).
The film opens with one of those auctions exclusive to the world’s richest terrorists. The villainous Eve (Lesley-Anne Down) demonstrates her ultra-powerful, one-of-a-kind laser gun by murdering several of her own henchmen, and sets an implausibly high starting price of $10 billion. Cue the Hulkster, right?
Chase punches his way in, steals the laser, then punches his way back out, past “Wrecks”, Eve’s iron-footed henchman (don’t ask, ’cause I can’t explain), then dives into the sea and escapes with the weapon.
Chase is tasked with keeping the weapon safe until his organisation, SHADOW (sound like bad guys to me), can collect it, but there’s just one problem: his son Jeremy.
Naturally, Jeremy is IMMEDIATELY dragged into the action in a thoroughly underwhelming chase scene, in which Ray has his son hide the laser in the most obvious secret compartment I’ve ever seen. The car crashes, but both Chases are unscathed. Jeremy, the hapless son, escapes, while Ray, the highly trained spy, is easily captured by Wrecks, even moving as slowly as he does with one oversized iron foot.
Jeremy gathers his friends, a group of generic pre-teens whose names you’ll instantly forget, and they soon meet Shigeo, Mr. Yamata’s grandson. Naturally, Shigeo is a capable martial artist, and one of the other children is capable of hacking into SHADOW’s database, and the children devise a plot to rescue Jeremy’s father and keep the laser safe.
Honestly, after writing up that summary, it hardly seems worth reviewing the movie, as a brief synopsis is more damning than anything I could write, but I’m going to carry on regardless.
You’ve probably heard the saying “you can’t polish a turd”. Well, in The Secret Agent Club‘s case, no one even tried. Its presentation is every bit as poor as its concept, and when I say that Hulk Hogan gives its best performance (by a considerable margin), I’m not exaggerating in the slightest.
It’s a film released about a decade past its own shelf life, with its weird child-led caper being something like The Goonies rewritten and directed by chimps.
Ironically, the all-important laser gun looks even more like a toy than the actual toys used throughout the film as half-cocked product placement – and in fact, Jeremy initially believes the laser to be one of the toys from his father’s (fake) toy store. The film also inexplicably uses the same three pieces of music over and over, which only serves to make the whole experience feel even cheaper.
Being totally honest though, I didn’t hate The Secret Agent Club. Despite the hammy acting and awful production values, it’s actually strangely enjoyable, if only ironically. The best example of this is the rap delivered over the credits, written by the film’s writer Rory Johnston. It recounts the entire plot of the film in the sort of rap you’d expect to hear on an ad for a local carpet store – it’s cheesy, tragic and so unbelievably ’90s that you can’t help but feel just a little nostalgic.
Summary: Ridiculous from the ground up, The Secret Agent Club tries its hardest to appeal to its audience with a child-led story, plenty of wacky child-endangerment, and the use of toys to thwart an evil organisation. It only partly succeeds, but it’s probably worth a watch just for a good laugh at the film’s expense.