Sunday, March 23, 2008

Eye of the Tiger

The Action Mutant…
thinks Gary Busey may be a bit unbalanced.

Eye of the Tiger

review by Joe Burrows

I once saw Gary Busey snort a line of Ajax, beat a horse to death with his shoe and not even flinch!
TO GARY BUSEY!!! (toast)
I heard Gary Busey’s teeth are made of plaster, wooden planks and that Day-Glo stuff!
TO GARY BUSEY!!! (toast)
I once saw Gary Busey light a 7-11 on fire and emerge from the ashes, brandishing a stick of marshmallows in one hand and a radio powered solely by Meth!
TO GARY BUSEY!!! (toast)
I saw Gary Busey take out a class of martial arts students, naked and drunk and armed with only a copy of The Buddy Holly Story!
TO GARY BUSEY!!! (toast)
I once saw Gary Busey win $10,000 at poker and spend the earnings on nothing but potting soil and kettle corn!
TO GARY BUSEY!!! (toast)
I heard that Gary Busey survived on a desert island with nothing more than his own urine and constant sense of self assurance!
TO GARY BUSEY!!! (toast)
(I know there is probably a better SNL skit to parody than the “Bill Brasky” thing but I figured Gary Busey being a “Wild and Crazy Guy” would be too predictable.)

The Plot, as it was:
Busey is Buck Matthews (…and now, HERE’S ROY!), a prisoner going back to his small town after being let out of the pokey. One night, he raises the ire of the town’s tyrannical biker gang by stopping a gang rape on a nurse (Kimberlin Ann Brown) so they retaliate by trashing his house, killing his wife (Denise Galik) and traumatizing his daughter (Judith Barsi). I’d say that’s about even, right? Buck is all ready for some Bronson-esque booby trapping and bloodthirsty revenge but he’s continuously held in check by the town’s smarmy sheriff (Seymour Cassel) and the threat of going back to jail (the sheriff framed him for murder, though it was self defense). However, when the gang kidnaps his daughter, Buck, the sheriff’s surly right hand man Deveraux (Yaphet Kotto) and a customized, weapons filled pickup truck (think a redneck version of KITT from Knight Rider) are the catalysts for a final battle of epic proportions. Right now is not the time to fuck with Buck!

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
Since it can’t decide whether it wants to be a message pic or full blown exploitation/vigilante fare, Eye of the Tiger fails at being an insane, 80s Action romp on par with say, Commando. Not that there aren’t several moments of inspired lunacy that may be intentional or not. For example, the venerable Survivor tune that the title is taken from plays three times, as if there was some sort or quota (yes, a full 3-4 years after Rocky III and about a year after it lost all relevance). If that’s not enough, how about the biker gang dragging the wife’s coffin around and leaving it in front of Buck’s house? Or Buck interrogating a biker in the hospital by using a stick of lit dynamite and Vaseline (I’ll leave you to connect the dots)? Or maybe Deveraux, in full Red Baron regalia (yes, goggles, cap, scarf and all!), dropping explosives from his biplane while blaring James Brown and screaming “I fucking love it!” For me, one moment that’s right up there is Busey plowing his truck through what seems to be a mountain of cocaine (in his dreams, I’m sure). Despite all of this lunacy and the earnestness of Busey’s performance (as this was two years before his life changing motorcycle crash, so he wasn’t totally nuts yet), there isn’t much else to recommend discerning this from the usual revenge/biker fare. I do recommend watching this late at night though, as it is only then can its brainlessness be fully appreciated.

Body Count/Violence: 35. EotT does manage to ratchet up some points for some of the violence it conjures up. Aside from some shooting, stabbing and explosions, the highlight has to be Buck decapitating a biker with wire he runs across the road (with the guy’s bloody head flying off in slow-mo). Really, nothing else tops that though the dynamite/Vaseline gag was as hilarious as it was disturbing.

Sexuality/Nudity: Nothing really, as the attempted gang rape doesn’t go too far. There may be some far away nudity in bikers showering outdoors but it’s very fleeting and unnoticeable. Oh, and dynamite and Vaseline. No penetration is shown, thank God.

Language/Dialogue: Strong at times but not too strong.

How bad was it?:
This wasn’t meant to be a critical giant to start with but critics didn’t exactly shower it with praise, even for its low standards. Some did credit it for being audacious and doing it well.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
Scotti Bros. Pictures (who also had the band Survivor under its music label…interesting) released Eye of the Tiger in America on 11/28/86. Oddly enough, there are no records for its American box office run, so it was likely not very substantial. It is on DVD under the MGM label.

Film: *1/2/*****
Entertainment value: ***1/2/*****

Copyright 2007 The Action Mutant.


Anonymous said...

It's good in a bad way.

Encore's channels break out the weirdest movies and I was able to watch this one a few months back thanks to them.

Joe Burrows said...

Agreed on your first comment.

And yes, Encore and FliX are making up for much of the content for these reviews. Pretty much a godsend for obscure Action films.

Terry said...

not bad for a rainy day. Where was this filmed?

Joe Burrows said...

IMDB has it listed as being filmed in Valencia, California.