THE TRIAL OF THE INCREDIBLE HULK **** U.S.A. 1989 Dir: Bill Bixby. 100 mins
Hes back and hes still got anger issues! Following the success of the first TV movie in 1988 THE INCREDIBLE HULK RETURNS, Bill Bixby returned along with Lou Ferrigno for the 1989 TV movie THE TRIAL OF THE INCREDIBLE HULK. Bill Bixby also stepped behind the camera as well for this TV movie as the director. After the events of the previous movie, Banner is on the run and working up north under the name David Belson. Feeling unfulfilled by his current job he returns to the city hoping to stay incognito. The city he arrives in is controlled by underworld crime boss Wilson Fisk (John Rhys Davies) but fighting against the bad guys is a crimefighter known as Daredevil.
Taking the subway home one day Belson sees a woman being harassed by a man and goes out of his way to stop her being assaulted. When they attack Belson instead they release the Hulk who scares them off. When the Hulk returns to his human form in Belson he is arrested for the assault of the woman. While Belson awaits trial he meets his defense attorney Matt Murdock who is blind. Belson pleads his case that he is innocent, Murdock believes him as he has a good sense of hearing and can tell if someone is lying to him but all he hears in Belson’s voice is the truth. As Belson is laying in his prison cell he dreams of the upcoming trial and in his dream transforms into the Hulk causing all sorts of havoc. When he wakes from his dream the stress causes him to transform into the Hulk and escapes the prison. While on the run Belson learns that Matt Murdock is the crimefighter Daredevil, and teams up with him to bring down the crime boss Wilson Fisk who has kidnapped the woman who claimed that Belson assaulted her. Upon a successful rescue Belson goes on his way once again in the hopes of finding a cure to his Hulk problem. Cue the song ‘The Lonely Man’ by Joe Harnell, as Belson makes his way down the road alone once again. Fans of The Incredible Hulk may feel cheated by the title of this TV movie as the Hulk isn’t actually on trial, the only time you see him in a court room is in the dream sequence. The Hulk this time around doesn’t show up very often in this movie at all but when he does he is ultra angry, but then again this was a stepping stone for another Marvel hero making his first ever live-action appearance…..Daredevil. Daredevil was introduced in this TV movie just as Thor was introduced in THE INCREDIBLE HULK RETURNS, for a possible TV series that never happened. Bill Bixby as always is easy to sympathize with as as the unfortunate David Banner (here as David Belson). He directs this movie with heart and his passion for the project shows throughout. Look out for Stan Lee as a juror, making this his first ever cameo in a Marvel live-action project. Hulk would return for one final TV outing in the 1990 TV movie THE DEATH OF THE INCREDIBLE HULK.
Review by Peter ‘Witchfinder‘ Hopkins