Risin’ up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance, now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive…
That’s the first verse of the epic song “Eye of the Tiger” by the band Survivor. While that’s the theme song of this Gary Busey movie, that’s about the only thing that the song has to do with this movie, and the only reason I can tell that they’re even associated with each other is because both Survivor and this movie Eye of the Tiger were Scotti Brothers productions.
Gary Busey plays Buck, a down on his luck Vietnam vet who just got released from prison for a crime that’s only referred to as “self defense” in a bar. Now he’s out of jail and back in his old hometown where things have changed since he’s left. His wife has barely been able to keep the homestead in line while raising their daughter alone, and worst of all the town has been overrun by a biker gang, and the new sheriff doesn’t seem to care to do anything about it.
While the relationship that he has with his cell mate Jamie is played up in the opening credits, we won’t ever see him again. Since Buck seems to have saved Jamie’s life while in the clink, Jamie tells Buck that he’ll be available “anytime, anywhere, anything” if he Buck ever needs his help. Well as you can guess, after Buck’s wife and daughter are brutalized, a rock bottom Buck calls in that favor. Jamie responds by sending him a sweet tricked out black Dodge Ram that might help him out, and a mysterious box labeled “Garbage Disposal”. Now with these new weapons of mass awesome, Buck will finally have his revenge against these bikers, their leader – Blade (William Smith), and the new sheriff (Seymour Cassel) – and he’ll display THE EYE OF THE TIGER!
Sean: Gary Busey, what can I say? The man has played Buddy Holly, worked with Mr. T, and was the main bad guy in a Lethal Weapon movie – and that was only the 80’s! I know in recent times, he’s become a bit of a joke in Hollywood, but this movie came out during the height of his career, and it shows. As Buck, he definitely fits the weathered tough guy build, and all the while he looks like he’s got about 75 shiny white teeth all on the top row. Like all good movie tough guys, he gets his ass beat, but he keeps coming back for more until the job is done. That folks, is why 80’s action movies are the best – they set the standards of what it was to be a tough MF, and all the explosions were real!
Monkeyface: This movie definitely fits that 80’s action movie stereotype to a tee, and who better to fill the main role than Busey! Even though the guy is now a crazy crack-head he was a pretty good actor in his day and could kick some ass with the best of them. I honestly can’t remember a movie he was in that I didn’t really like… Under Siege, Predator 2, and his last real mainstream movie that I can remember – Blacksheep! In that movie he gave us a taste of things to come when he played an out of his mind Vietnam vet. But the Busey of old was a classic, where he usually played the jerk/asshole. In Eye of the Tiger though he is the good guy you can’t help but root for. He has paid his debt to society and he wants to go back to his quiet life… but of course that never happens in the movies!
Sean: Seeing Yaphet Kotto as Buck’s friend J.B. Deveraux on the police force made my day. If I remember correctly, my exact word were “Oh hell yeah, YAPHET KOTTO!”. I’m always amazed at what that man can do with his hair, and he was in top form. I think he stole the show, whether he was walking into Buck’s newly “renovated” house and demanding a beer, only to walk out minutes later with beer in hand or flying around in a biplane thinking he’s the red baron – complete with flowing white scarf. This only proved my theory further that Yaphet Kotto is indeed, the man. He even has a fun name to write out… Yaphet Kotto… See?
Monkeyface: Why is it I know exactly who Yaphet Kotto is but I can only remember him from 1 Bond film?!? His hair is so damn cool and I for 1 couldn’t be more jealous! But let’s get to the bad guys… first the guy who gets Buck into this mess when he attempts to rape a woman on Buck’s security watch. This dude had a mop full of hair, yet no lines in the movie except “ARG” and “UGH”. I hate telling you that he “eats it” in the end, but his death scene is 1 that made my butthole pucker just a bit! Then we get to the main boss man; the bald dude with the sweet 80’s mustache – Blade! Once again another menacing baddie with 3-4 lines of dialogue. He just looked mean though in that way all bald guys do (are you sensing that I am in fact bald being jealous of Yaphet and Blade). Let’s face it, only a bald biker could build a camp in the panhandle of Texas filled with fully working showers, watch towers and a runway. Again – jealousy reigns supreme!
Sean: Eye of the Tiger starts out quick from the gate (jail, rescuing citizens from bikers in a nighttime dust-a-thon) hits a little bit of a lull in the middle with Buck picking up the pieces, and then picks it right back up with the arrival of the tricked out rig. You get some action, biker decapitations, dynamite sodomy (I don’t mean that as in “DYN-O-MITE, some sodomy! I mean there was literally TNT involved), and even a knock down drag out brawl with Blade at the end. It’s definitely an under rated action movie of the 80’s and deserves to be mentioned in the top tier – if not for the action, then for the commentary you and your friends can make while watching the ridiculousness. I don’t think I’ll ever figure out what the title or the song has to do with the movie though… 4 parties in the back with no business in the fronts out of 5.
Monkeyface: This was definitely better than I expected going into it. The action was great, and the backstory was good without really wasting time on developing why Buck was in jail. All you need to know is he is a family man, good citizen, and the wrong dude to mess with in his town! Luckily for him he has some really good friends that help him out because as most 80’s movies go, the sheriff isn’t exactly doing his best to help the town. But he’ll get what’s coming to him in the end. It’s too bad this movie doesn’t play on cable because I think people would enjoy it. Buck has a way of taking revenge and he doesn’t pull any punches in the name of good sportsmanship! Eye of the Tiger, even though it takes music from my favorite of the Rocky films, gets 3.5 mortar and machine gun filled 4×4’s out of 5.