Bullet Points: Eye of the Tiger
In this installment of Bullet Points I take a look at a movie that may have slipped under the radar of even the biggest of 80’s action movie fans, Eye of the Tiger.
Eye of the Tiger stars Gary Busey (Before he became Gary Busey). Busey’s character Buck Matthews is a Vietnam vet and ex-con, who returns to his hometown and discovers it is being terrorized by a biker gang. And since the crooked sheriff (played by Seymour Cassel) is in the gang’s pocket Buck takes the law in his own hands. The incomparable Yaphet Kotto also appears in the movie as Buck’s friend, J.B. Deveraux.
If there’s one thing I can always go for it is a good vigilante movie and Eye of the Tiger more than qualifies! Let’s get to the Bullet Points…
- Happy Wife, Happy Life: Upon his return from prison (doing time for a crime he didn’t commit I may add), Buck’s wife, Christie, implores him that the family should move away from this one mule town and get a fresh start somewhere else. But Buck being a proud hometown kind of guy refuses at first… he’ll later regret that decision.
- Wrong Place, Wrong Time: A nurse finishing her shift at the local hospital finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time as she becomes the target of the vicious biker gang that is running amok in the town. Fortunately for her, Buck Matthews hears her screams as he is wrapping up a long day at the construction site and comes to her rescue.
- Blame the Media: After Buck comes to the aid of the nurse in distress, the local TV station decides to do a story on him and his heroic act. Unfortunately for Buck, the gang now knows who it was that prevented them from gang raping the nurse and they have his address. And just a suggestion… Don’t watch this movie with any of your friends who may be really passionate about their hate of the media. This could cause them to go on a rant and distract you from the quality film in front of you.
- Motorcycle Mayhem: The biker gang sends a very clear message to Buck that they aren’t happy with his interference when they literally drive their bikes through his house. The house is completely trashed, Buck’s wife dies as a result and Buck and his daughter Jennifer are hospitalized. Did I mention right before this happened that Buck agreed with his wife that they needed to move? Hindsight.
- Funeral Crashers: In the event that Buck didn’t get the message… the gang passes through at the funeral for Christie Matthews. If that isn’t classless enough for you just wait, there’s more to come.
- Thank You Scarface: At the start of the film when Buck is released from prison he is not alone, a Scarface wannabe is released at the same time, a Scarface wannabe that we learn Buck saved from certain death while in prison. So Wannabe Scarface owes Buck a solid and Buck now realizing what he is up against decides to cash in that favor. Direct from Miami, a pimped out pickup truck is delivered to Buck. And I believe it was the guys from Guns & Ammo that pimped this truck out.
- Headless Horseman: It is time for some revenge… Buck sets up a trap for the biker gang that results in the decapitation of one of its members. This member is conveniently the same guy who tried to rape the nurse and the brother of the head of the gang, Blade (played by William Smith)
- Dick Move: The biker gang responds to a death of one of their own by digging up the casket of Buck’s dead wife, chaining the casket to their bikes and dragging it to Buck’s front yard. Buck, instead of returning the casket to the cemetery, digs a new grave for his wife on his property. Which I imagine is against the law but probably not as severe of an offense as decapitating someone.
- G-R-A-V-I-T-Y: Do you own an airplane? If so, does your airplane have its own theme music? If you could not answer yes to both of those questions, Yaphet Kotto’s character J.B. is better than you. But there’s no shame in coming in second to Yaphet Kotto.
- BINGO: Action movies often get the reputation of being cookie cutter in nature. So when some unique scenes pop up in action films I definitely take note… well if you ever wanted to see a man disrupt a local bingo game with an impassioned call to arms, then this is the movie for you.
- At Least He Used Petroleum Jelly: Since digging up the casket of Christie Matthews wasn’t enough for the biker gang, they go to the hospital, kill the guards watching Buck’s daughter and kidnap her and take her to their elaborate desert headquarters complete with airstrip for their drug dealing operation. The exact location of their HQ is not known, but one of the gang members is in the hospital and Buck utilizes a unique interrogation method that really has to be seen to be believed.
This all builds up to the grand finale where Buck confronts the crooked sheriff, Blade and the biker gang (pro wrestling historians keep your eyes open for a “Judo” Gene LeBell cameo), with some help from good ol’ J.B. Deveraux and his airplane. And speaking of J.B. there’s one bullet left in the chamber…
- Truer Words Were Never Spoken: Yaphet Kotto delivers the line of lines as he flies above the biker gang’s camp bombing them with dynamite and grenades… “I love it. I f*cking love it!” This is the exact sentiment I had as I watched this hidden gem of an 80’s film unfold before my eyes.