As the opening scene began I started to wonder what I was getting myself in for? Two men slowly getting dressed in close up! Shoes, belts, zoom in on zippers going up and then a quick dude junk grab rearrange shuffle! Looked like these two had just got jiggy with it! But no, these are inmates just released from the slammer. One looks like Tony Montana in his all white suit and gangster strutt confidence. The other, with that legendary big goofy toothed grin we all love, is our hero, Buck Matthews aka Gary Busey. The prison gate opens and the Rocky III signature theme tune begins. This is Eye Of The Tiger and we are in for one rocky ride…
Buck Matthews was a Vietnam war veteran trying to settle down back down in his small town with his wife and daughter. He worked construction and enjoyed it. A few years earlier he’d been wrongly jailed for standing up to thugs at the local bar. The town’s sheriff (Seymour Cassel) was sadistic and incompetent fool and had a chip on his shoulder against Buck, for no apparent reason. “Doing that time in there didn’t do a damn thing for you, did it? You were an asshole then and you’re a ‘bigger’ asshole now!“
Lucky Buck had a friend in J.B. Deveraux (Yaphet Kotto), a police deputy who did his own thing on the force. JB had fought alongside Buck in Vietnam. He had his back, however, not for too long. JB was retiring! “This town is losing its greatest black man, I’m retiring. Lay on the beach, work on my tan. HAHAHA” he informs his friend.
Now our Buck could deal with the Sheriff being an arsehole. Besides he would soon turn out to be the less of his concerns. As a lunatic murderous biker gang steam roll into town like an army of invading ants. All dressed in military green and identical black crash helmets. They caused absolute havoc and terror. At the helm of this devil pack was the psychotic bald leader called Blade (William Smith) who orchestrated the carnage from afar. When the gang unleashed an outrageous attack and attempted rape Busey has no choice but to go into overload rage mode. Not on his watch! Blade explodes with menacing stern outrage. “You made a big mistake, Buck Matthews. Never scratch dry shit!” Say what?
Tagline – Nam was hell… Prison unbearable… But coming home meant murder.
Buck Busey to the rescue would return unimaginable pain for our hero. With the biker gang focused on destroying his life, home and unfortunately his family. The terror would get worse. Buck needed to level the playing field. He dug in his pocket and brings out a scribbled note. It read “Anytime, Anywhere, Anything” with a phone number. Now I don’t know what those two got up to inside their prison walls but Tony Montana owed Buck Matthews big for saving his life. Desperate to repay the debt he promised to settle up. Buck calls the number. Tony delivers. BIG! “We all square now” as a giant cargo box is delivered. It’s a missile launching, machine gun firing, bulletproof monster truck, courtesy of Scarface’s IOU.
Buck Matthews is just a man praying for vengeance with a tough will to survive. What’s an army of psychotic murder biker gangs have when you have that mantra, that goofy grin and a super truck filled with killer treats?
As the carnage grows we get heads being lopped off, exploding mannequins, coffins dragged across the floor, arm wrestling with scorpions and, brilliantly, everyone’s favorite, Yaphet Kotto, flying a crop-duster whilst grenade blasting holes out of bikers to the sound of James Brown’s “Gravity“. And he’s loving every second of it.
“But Wolfie!” I hear you say. “What is the best death scene?” That little death nugget goes to Blade’s brother. Strapped handcuffed to a hospital bed, our Buck disguises himself as a doctor with a novel way to take his patient’s temperature! Half a jar of vaseline smothered on the top of a stick of dynamite and ramped up big beardy baddies clenched A-Hole! Lighting the fuse, “You got 25 seconds to tell me!“. The heart rate monitor he’s hooked up to goes into overdrive…
Nice to see Gary Busey in a good guy role. And not totally deranged or wearing female clothes and fake boobies in hilarious fashion like in Under Siege (1992) The Cook, The Drag Queen And The Booby Cake
Eye Of The Tiger was directed by Richard C. Sarafian who has many films and a whole heap of television titles under his watch. A few I have reviewed already over the years like Lolly-Madonna XXX (1973) Kidnap, Moonshine, Screaming Piggies & Happy Families and Fragment of Fear (1970) David Hemmings Freaks To The Johnny Harris Funky As Hell Soundtrack. He also directed the brilliant road movie and the one I really need to review one day soon, Vanishing Point (1971).
Be sure to pop on over to fellow cult film reviewer Mike’s Take On The Movies who did an article on Gary Busey Man Of Action and see in the comments it took me 5 years to get round to Eye Of The Tiger and I’m glad I finally got to see the crazed madness.
Eye Of The Tiger was on Amazon Prime at time writing and let’s be honest it’s an authentic watching experience. The video quality was as bad as a much watched and loved original VHS video rental of the time. Filled with glitches, tracking lines, grainy cuts and a whole heap of sound issues. I loved every second of it.
All the best