Dwayne Johnson sings a Stryper song… or does he?

As a former Stryper fan — I bought all but one of their albums when I was a teen, and I attended two of their concerts, once on the To Hell with the Devil tour, when they were still dressed in yellow and black and throwing Bibles into the audience, and once on the Against the Law tour, when they were wearing different clothes and actively downplaying their Christian connections — I have to make note of it whenever a movie makes a reference to them.

Five years ago, one of their stickers appeared in the background in the office of a grocery-store manager in Wendy and Lucy. Then, four years ago, one of their T-shirts played a significant role in Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, Whip It.

And now, there is the following clip from Pain & Gain, the first non-Transformers movie directed by Michael Bay in eight years:

My first thought, on seeing this clip, was to wonder when the story takes place — but then I remembered that Stryper, which originally disbanded in 1992, reunited in 2003 and has released a number of albums since.

My second thought was to wonder what song Dwayne Johnson and the other guy were singing, since it doesn’t sound familiar to me at all — but then, again, I remembered that the band is back in action these days.

The thing is, when I Googled the lyrics, no Stryper links came up at all — just links to Zechariah 9:8. So I’m assuming the filmmakers just took a Bible verse and set it to music and tried to pass it off as a Stryper song.

Which, if so, would be pretty lame. C’mon, guys, if you’re going to drop Stryper’s name like this, the least you could do is riff on one of their actual songs!

Incidentally, given that this clip takes place in a gun store, I cannot help but wonder which of the band’s albums would be the store owner’s favorite. One strong contender, I’d bet, would be Soldiers Under Command — the band’s second album, and the first one I bought. All those guns on the cover would look pretty appropriate on the store’s walls, no?

I am also reminded that this is at least the second time this year that a clip of Johnson quoting a quasi-religious lyric has been released as part of a film’s pre-release publicity. See also this bit from G.I. Joe: Retaliation, where he recites a “prayer” of Jay-Z’s:

But back to Stryper. Their T-shirt played a slightly bigger role in Whip It than I expected after seeing the trailer for that film. So will there be other references to the band in Pain & Gain beyond what we see here? We’ll find out next week…

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • K355

    Hmm… us crazy Christians, clinging to our God and our Guns… I enjoyed the tie-in with Christianity and a gun store, after all, the dude running the Dept. of Homeland baloney says that Christians are the threat, not the muslims that are currently accounting for pretty much nearly ALL the terrorism going on throughout the world these days.

  • Stephen Carr

    Here’s a theory. Rock’s character sees the Stryper sticker and knows they are a Christian band. He does not know any songs, so he just quotes any verse he can think of…store clerk is hoodwinked into thinking it must be a song, right? So they sing-song the verse together…


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