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Eye of the Tiger

Eye of the Tiger -

In case you didn't know, the song of the same name was not written for this movie. It came out a few years later and you get to hear the song in it four times. Believe it or not, that is the least strange thing about this silly, derivative yet never dull Gary Busey action vehicle. Back on the streets (couldn't help myself) of his hometown after serving time, Busey's Vietnam vet Buck Matthews runs afoul of a drug-dealing motorcycle gang who has seen The Road Warrior one too many times and who have taken over the place in his absence. After the gang make it personal, Buck decides to take them on himself, but his old friend J.B. (Kotto) thinks they should attack from the sky as well as the ground.

As my Road Warrior reference implies, this is essentially a patchwork quilt of other movies' ideas from Walking Tall to Rolling Thunder. What it lacks in originality, though, it makes up for in craziness. Every one of their confrontations has a moment bound to make you ask, "did you just see that" and the craziness escalates in the best way. Highlights include a scene with a tripwire and one with dynamite and petroleum jelly you may think twice about. Luckily, the insanity peaks at the finale, which features a pickup truck that could end wars in some countries and Yaphet Kotto doing his best Red Baron impression. Having Busey and Kotto as the heroes makes it all the more fun as do familiar supporting players like Seymour Cassel's corrupt and perpetually angry sheriff and William Smith's main bad guy, who terrifies despire his very strange haircut.

Despite all its jawdropping moments, it doesn't improve upon anything it cribs from. Also, the Kotto character from his own, non-"Eye of the Tiger" theme song to an odd moment during the ending seems like he'd be just as offensively dated in 1986 as he does now. Even so, if you are in the mood for some macho '80s cheese and/or a movie made to be played on the TVs at veterans or country/western bars, you could do much worse. Another word of warning, though: you'll never look at dynamite the same way again.