Eye of the Tiger Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Eye of the Tiger is definitely one of those films that gives revenge titles a bad name. I mean, it’s probably not a genre you want to see a whole lot of anyway as it’s difficult to succeed in so many attempts would fail but this one just never stood a chance. It puts the main character in a rough environment where everyone is evil or mean and so by the time Buck gets his revenge, there isn’t a lot left to fight for. That’s usually the downfall with revenge films, at least this one has a good soundtrack though even if the timing is often pretty bad.

The movie starts with Buck finally getting out of jail. He made some friends in there but it’s time to head home. Unfortunately his small town is even worse off than usual. The place is run by a corrupt sheriff who is in league with gangs that go around assaulting everyone and forcing people to live in a life of fear. Nobody has ever risen up to do anything about this and they all just look the other way. Well, Buck isn’t going to do that and he foils one of the gang’s attacks. They retaliate and murder Buck’s wife while also putting his daughter in the hospital. Buck aims to take them all down now but to do so he will need a lot of weapons. Additionally he will also have to go up against the cops who are in the pocket of the gang.

In this movie it’s nearly everyone teaming up against Buck. The only person on Buck’s side is his old friend J.B. and even then that guy usually just warns Buck not to fight against the villains since he thinks the lead will lose. Buck doesn’t like backing down though so he plans to fight either way. He has some good equipment and plans like when he stretches a wire across the street to take one villain down. The problem is that he has to beat a lot of them and quickly or they just run to the police to have Buck arrested. As the film goes on Buck starts carrying his gun at all times which is a good idea. At least with that he always has a fighting chance.

Buck definitely should have left with the family as soon as he got back though. I don’t think your life can ever be all that easy if the cops have it out for you. We know that the Sheriff is willing to go quite far to mess with Buck right from the start given that he was put into jail on account of that guy. So just leave the place and start roots somewhere else. That’s absolutely the best thing to do and the only way to get out of this cycle. By the time Buck decides to go it’s unfortunately too late. So the rest of the film will be bitter sweet at best since his wife isn’t around anymore.

I’ll still give Buck props as a main character because he stands up to the gang and does what’s right. It would have been easy to have just walked away or ignored what they were doing but he didn’t do any of that. So definitely some credit there. He also does well in the fights even through to the end when he takes on the leader of the gang. Buck doesn’t go down easy and never loses a true 1 on 1 fight in the movie. The guy just keeps going forward and landing hits until he can’t anymore.

As mentioned, Buck’s friend J.B. takes a long while to actually step in and help though. It’s understandable why he doesn’t want to get mixed up in any of this but it does mean that I’m probably not going to be rooting for him a whole lot. If Buck had some help sooner the film could have potentially been over a lot quicker. The rest of the police officers all look terrible as they work for the corrupt sheriff. The whole town is complicit to an extent as they all look the other way and allow him to stay in control. It’s no wonder that the village is under such tough times. There’s nobody there who is willing to fight back against the villains.

One area that holds the film back big time is how gritty the whole thing is. It’s got Mad Max vibes from the start with the gang going around and attacking people. If they were just murdering people then that’d be one thing but of course they’re all going after the women and piling on the crimes. It’s always a bad way to build up tension in these films, having the villains just be murderers is good enough to show why they need to be stopped. No reason to go any further than that. The extra details are what puts the film in the red right away and it’s hard to get out from there.

Then as I mentioned the music timing is always very off. It is nice to hear the Eye of the Tiger song since that one’s always filled with energy. This film has some good heroic themes as well. The issue is that they will play right after a tragic scene or during one. It’s like the film’s trying to say this is a happy moment even while the heroes are still taking hits. The timing was never quite right and it’s hard to get into the music and experience the hype/fun that’s going on because you know that the moment just isn’t happy yet. The only time the song works is the very last time it plays because that’s after the big battle and so it makes sense to celebrate. The other attempts fell flat.

Overall, Eye of the Tiger is a film I would avoid. It’s a classic revenge film through and through where Buck is put through the wringer so you can get some satisfaction when he inevitably caches the villains. The reason why this genre is tough is because it’s easy to make things go too far in how much the villains are winning so it’s just hollow even when the lead gets his revenge. I don’t think the wife needed to die here and additionally the gang could have just been about getting rich and murdering people. It would be a lot less dark and would help the film as a whole. In the end, you should definitely watch Taken instead if you want a better revenge film.

Overall 2/10

Gator Review


It’s time to look at the film known as Gator. You may be thinking of a monster film or something based on the title, but this one’s actually a pretty down to earth story about the government blackmailing someone growing drugs into helping them nab some others. It’s a reasonable movie, but one that doesn’t really have much to it. It goes through the thriller motions, but doesn’t really go out of its way to do anything else. It’s also hard to get behind the main character. How could he possibly get caught up in this drug stuff again after his first adventure??

The movie starts off with Gator and his family enjoying a peaceful morning at the cabin. Their day is thrown for a loop though when a bunch of helicopters show up to try and arrest them. We get a chase scene with Gator beating them up while on a boat before eventually succumbing to their blackmail. Since he has started growing Moonshine again they want Gator to head to a shady town where a lot of drug dealing is going on. The government had their eyes on Gator from the start though given how they were also going to blackmail him through his father. It was a lose-lose situation for the hero. So Gator heads to town and sees that the leader is an old friend of his. Maybe he can talk some sense into the guy…

I think we can’t really talk about this film without talking about why Gator isn’t ready for this line of work. He slips up constantly with one instance of this being particularly bad. He already knows that Bama is a bad guy, but is holding out some hope that he’s not so bad. Maybe he’s one of those nice gangsters who only murders people sometimes right? Well, he quickly finds out that this isn’t the case so he walks up to Bama and says that he’s leaving. Not a smart play, but if he’s got a plan then maybe it’ll work out right? Well, that’s not really the case. Bama agrees to this but offers Gator one last drink first. He makes an obvious motion to his henchman who spikes the drink and then Gator downs the whole thing. At first you figure he has a plan, but this isn’t the case.

Gator slowly succumbs to the drink while insulting the villains the whole time. Even that could have been a plan like he was hoping he’d get punched to block the effects of the drink but that didn’t happen either. So ultimately all this leaves Gator looking absolutely terrible. By the time he is able to make a comeback at the very end of the film as he runs over some people you are still left doubting his abilities. Even leaving Irving by himself so he can mess around with Aggie wasn’t a good idea.

The romance with Gator and Aggie definitely wasn’t good. It’s one of those really rushed affairs where they just get together to check off a few boxes, but ultimately it doesn’t really add to the film and comes across as pretty pointless. I preferred Aggie’s character to Gator’s though. At least she was actively looking into the criminal situation and trying to do something about it. Gator only ended up doing something after he was blackmailed into it. Aggie’s profession is also super dangerous since she is a reporter in a city that has been completely conquered by crime. That’s never an easy task.

Meanwhile we do have one more rookie in the film. His name is Irving and he is the main American agent. Here’s my problem with the guy. He talks a good game about being from NY and all, but then he walks into a bar and gets drunk. Naturally he gets beat up by the villains pretty badly, but why would he go in there like that? He also let the villains steal his gun which was terrible. Pretty much any scene with the guy was one where you knew he would mess up. Then there is Emmeline who is here as the quirky character with her cats and all. She thinks of this as a game and does her best to slow everyone down. It’s fair to say that things would have gone smoother if she had just given them the keys or been willing to leave her cats, but naturally that wasn’t going to happen. Bringing the cats is just putting them in harm’s way.

Also, this is another scene where the government looks suspect. If the proof that Bama is a villain is in the courthouse, why can’t they just grab it? That seems like something that would be really easy to do. Also, why didn’t Bama realize that they had the records? There’s a lot of parts in this film where you wonder why the government can’t do anything. Sure the town is bought out, but apparently not the rest of the country since they’re gunning for Bama. It should have been so much easier to take the guy down.

As for Bama, he’s a pretty generic villain. The guy likes selling drugs and going on power trips all the time. He’s got a shotgun and can fight a bit, but there’s nothing more to him. He’s certainly not my kind of villain. His minions have more character if anything. The big one is like the Jaws villain from James Bond. He’s pretty big and has a lot of strength, but ultimately that doesn’t mean much in a gun fight. Then you’ve got the other guy who is surprisingly durable since he survives a ton of things in this film. As a trio they were hard to stop.

Overall, While I do consider this film to be an upgrade over the first one, it really doesn’t hold up on close inspection. You’ve got a weak character cast in a rather bland backdrop. Everyone makes the wrong choices at all times and the film has to rely on quirky characters and a rushed romance to pad out the time. There just isn’t much here so the film has to drag it all out. It can be fun at times, but not really fun enough to get the film above the break even point.

Overall 5/10

Mr Smith Goes To Washington Review


It’s time to look at an old political film that shows one man’s fight against endless corruption. It can be a lost cause at times but if nobody takes a stand then the situation will never get better will it? It’s a pretty interesting movie even if the ending starts to stretch disbelief a bit. Still, the concept certainly isn’t hard to believe and sometimes things just work out this way.

The film starts off with the local mayor/governor worrying about which new senator to elect as the old one died. He gets pressure from his higher ups to bring in people who are corrupt or have skeletons in the closet so they can be blackmailed. The mayor is close to doing this until his kids guilt trip him into appointing a local ranger leader named Mr. Jeff Smith. Smith is a very down to earth guy who wants to uphold the original ideals of the US, but Mr. Taylor doesn’t like this. Taylor is the kingpin in the shadows who has been controlling the state for years. He decides to do whatever he can to stop this Mr. Smith.

I’m always up for a political film like this, especially when it’s in a court type setting. The senate meetings here are close enough. I remember hearing about how you could hold the floor indefinitely provided the circumstances were right so it was nice to see Smith use such a technique here. I’m sure there is probably a little more to it than this but it’s definitely fun to see. Smith has to talk for essentially an entire day which is pretty impressive for sure. That’s a lot of stamina.

Of course, the corruption was quite deep here so the effects weren’t as powerful as he would have liked. I can buy into Taylor blocking all of the radio channels and newspapers but where it starts to get a little fishy is when he hires a mob to go around and start beating up on the kids. That part’s definitely a little hard to believe. They ran into the kid’s car and actually knocked one to the ground. By the end even the grownups on Smith’s side are telling him to stop because too many kids are being injured.

Even if we are to assume that Taylor’s influence is so strong that all of these guys would be willing to fight kids, what about their parents or other resisters? We see in one scene a large group of adults running around with signs and such until the cops spray them, but then there should have been some adults to protect the kids as well. So while this part was dramatic I think it ends up getting a bit unrealistic by the end.

During the film, Smith’s mentor (Paine) talks to him about the rampant corruption. Paine explains that it isn’t everyone who is corrupt, just most of them. I thought this was foreshadowing for some senators agreeing with Smith by the end and the film would have ended with the Senate in full disagreement. In the end, it appears even he underestimated how corrupt the place was as everyone was involved. He’s definitely the worst character in the film but at least you do know that he’s a traitor from the start so it’s not like you were surprised at this turn of events.

While the writing is pretty solid and the film has good pacing, there is one plot that doesn’t work out well. It’s the comic relief one sided romance plot between Clarissa and a reporter. Their scenes don’t really add to the plot and the drunk bar one goes on for quite a while. I suppose it’s to show how she felt bad for Smith but you could already glean that information early on. Clarissa is a pretty reasonable character even if she does keep flipping from one side to the other. At first she thinks the situation is hopeless for Jeff so she just pretends to be on his side. Finally she does end up going to his side and to her credit she is indispensable by the end. Without her Jeff would have certainly been tricked or have lost the will to fight earlier.

Jeff’s a good character, but pretty gullible. While he ended up sticking to his core values and beliefs despite the overwhelming pressure he wouldn’t have gone far without help. If Clarissa hadn’t tipped him off he would have kept falling for that other girl’s tricks. The instant he let romance get above his duty I had to admit that this senator business may have been a little too much for him. He’s earnest, but to that end I’d figure that he would have done more reading up on what it means to be a senator. Sure, it was harder to get information back in the day but I’d like to have seen him be a bit more pro-active. These are more in-depth critiques of his character though, on the whole he was still pretty solid. It’s just that he could have been even better.

One character who stole the show quite a bit was the chairman for the senate. I like how the whole thing was basically one big joke to him. He’s a fair judge who doesn’t bend to the others. He knows his importance. Whether the right choice is made or not isn’t something he cares about so long as they follow the rules. It may not be heroic, but it is pretty enjoyable to see.

Overall, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a pretty solid film. It definitely shows how hard it is to get your point across when you’re up against corruption. Smith could have stood there all day without the senators reacting and that’s just what he did. Honestly I would have done more whistles to wake them up like he did in one scene, but I suppose he also didn’t want to be held in contempt of court or anything like that. That probably would have backfired. I’d definitely recommend checking this film out. It’s pretty original.

Overall 7/10