Friday, November 19, 2010

WELCOME BACK, KOTTO: The Eye of The Tiger, Part 2


Everyone remember back in May, when IllCon got "Repossessed" by our good Bro The Goodkind's "Blair Week" project? I do. It was pretty rad, and a good way to pay tribute to one of the horror genre's most underappreciated actresses. Well, Seth is at it again, and today marks the fifth day of "Kotto Week", another tribute to an unsung film hero involving no less than 13 of The Internetosphere's finest film blogs (listed at the end of the post).

(Side note: Calling Yaphet Kotto "unsung" seems like a bit of a misnomer to me, as several blogs have been "singing" him for nigh unto five days now. I think the term "partially sung" might be more appropriate. Mr. Goodkind, please have your agent call mine.)

In keeping with IC tradition, I chose 1986's Gary Busey star vehicle Eye of The Tiger (in which Mr. Kotto plays Busey's ass-kicking sidekick J.B. Devereaux) as the focus for my own particular examination of the forementioned actor's canon, a choice I've come to regret less and less the closer I inspect it. Somehow, I managed to completely neglect mentioning this film when I wrote a comprehensive post about the song "The Eye of The Tiger" (IllCon: The Eye of The Tiger, Part 1), and I'm now kicking myself in the ass for such foolishness. This movie kinda rules.

But before we get started...


1) Dude was on the short list to play Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation--see proof HERE. Other revelations via Paramount Pictures inter-office memo: short-listers to play Geordi LaForge included Reggie Jackson, Wesley Snipes, and Kevin Peter Hall (better known as the 7-foot-tall guy inside the Predator suit).

2) Dude is 6'4" and Jewish (as if the name wasn't a dead giveaway).

3) Dude shares a name with disbanded Santa Cruz/SF based screamo band Yaphet Kotto. I have been kind enough to upload their 2004 opus We Bury Our Dead Alive...


4) Dude had a short-lived career as a recording artist in the late 60's. I kid you not. Observe:

"Have You Dug His Scene":

"Have You Ever Seen The Blues?":

5) Dude's dad was the fucking crown prince of Cameroon. No joke. The younger Kotto wrote a book about it. It's called The Royalty: A Spiritual Awakening. He also wrote another book called The Second Coming of Christ.


Exhibit A: "How To Pump Cobras' Nads"

The movie poster itself is a dead giveaway that this movie is going to put its foot up your ass. Unfortunately it was re-released on DVD recently...

Exhibit B: "The Polished Turd"

What is this, 3 Fast 3 Furious? Fuck off, MGM DVD.

First things first: YES, Eye of The Tiger starts off with a sweet "suiting-up" scene set to Survivor's epic jam of the same name. All is as it should be right off the bat, and Busey quickly establishes himself as the quintessential badass-with-a-heart-of-gold from the depths of his prison cell. We soon learn that he is set to be released forthwith to return to his vaguely Laura Dern-esque wife and loving daughter in Small Town America, and the plot quickly comes together as sort of an 80's mash-up of Road House, Tiger Warsaw, Walking Tall, and Next of Kin (it is not just a strange coincidence that 3 out of the 4 movies I just referenced were Swayze vehicles. Approximately 75% of my film knowledge is comprised of films starring and/or co-starring Patrick Swayze. Fuck off.).

Right: Another Eye of The Tiger from 1986. Not cool man.

Before I get too carried away talking about this movie, though, I should establish one thing: we're here to talk about Yaphet Kotto today, but Eye of The Tiger is Busey's show, first and foremost. This film was produced to showcase the man's prowess as both a romantic and "action" lead, and was meant to rocket his career to Swayze-esque heights of superstardom. In a totally unrelated side note, Imdb reports that Eye of The Tiger grossed a grand total of $9,177 at the box office. Ahem.


Okay, so the crotchgrab screengrab isn't actually Busey or Kotto, it's "Jaime", Busey (I'm sorry, "Buck Matthews")'s cellmate at the beginning of the film. Jaime is kind of like a cross between Tony Montana and Jesus from The Big Lebowski, and when he promises Buck a favor later in the film you just KNOW it's gonna be something cool. In fact, Jaime is one of the highlights of the film. Along with this guy:

He's the "bad guy", leader of the biker gang terrorizing Buck's town and the only one among them apparently allowed to wear anything besides a green khaki pantsuit and black helmet. These bikers are effing DICKS, man. Not only do they kill Buck Matthews' wife and kidnap his daughter, but they crank up their bikes and disrupt town meetings constantly! Major noise issues!

There is, in fact, no shortage of "bad guys" in this movie, from the lead biker's tough guy/right hand man (I don't know the actor's name but he reminds me of Leonard Smalls from Raising Arizona) to the cigar-chewing, Hawaiian shirt-wearing Sherriff (who was played by a guy named Seymour Cassel, shown at left, although I was several beers deep and enjoyed his character a bit more by imagining he was Rip Taylor). Pretty much everyone in this movie is either a totally pussy or a total asshole, and as the orifices pile up, so does the awesome 80's psuedo-tension.

Actually, the only two characters who aren't pussies or assholes are Busey and Kotto, and by the last 20 minutes of the movie they are both flaunting the fact openly to one of the cheesiest Casiotone film soundtracks I've ever heard (and that's saying something). I mean, shit, through all the laughably bad pyrotechnics, terrible dialogue ("You made a big mistake Matthews! Never scratch dry shit!"? Did I hear that right?), and confused racial issues between Yaphet Kotto and Rip Taylor, this is really a pretty killer buddy-action flick, on par (at least) with other classics of the genre such as 1997's Van Damme/Rodman vehicle Double Team or maybe that one movie with that one guy from Iron Chef.

I dunno, I guess Eye of The Tiger starts to drag a bit in the middle, but between the awesome action sequences involving Buck's kick ass Dodge Ram pickup (a gift from the aforementioned Jaime), fleeting similarities to other ass-kickers like Death Wish or The A-Team (TV show, duh), an awesome fucking decapitation scene, and an anal-rape-with-a-stick-of-dynamite scene (yep), this movie is totally redeemed by its final sequence (which is pretty brutal as well). Maybe I'm just a sucker for crap cinema, but Eye of The Tiger seems like a perfectly worthy and altogether respectable entry into the Kotto Kollection.


Confusing-ass words to live by right there: "You know, it don't matter how we wish things were. It matters how we deal with how they are!" (???)

The verdict: Gary Busey decapitates a biker and butt-rapes another one with a stick of dynamite. Yaphet Kotto flies a plane. FUCKIN SUPER EPIC!

Eye of The Tiger on Netflix
Buy it used for $35

SPOILER ALERT! This is the best scene in the movie, even though it's pretty anticlimactic when the dynamite doesn't blow. Note how Busey applies vaseline to the dynamite before he shoves it up the biker's ass. What a guy!

The Kotto Week breakdown:

Monday Nov. 15th
Unflinching Eye - Alien
Raculfright 13's Blogo Trasho - Truck Turner

Tuesday Nov. 16th
Lost Video Archive - Raid on Entebbe
Manchester Morgue - Friday Foster

Wednesday Nov. 17th
Booksteve's Library - Live and Let Die

Thursday Nov. 18th
Mondo 70 - Drum
B Movies and Beyond - The Monkey Hu$tle
Cinema Gonzo - Report to the Commissioner

Friday Nov. 19th
Illogical Contraption - Eye of the Tiger
Ninja Dixon - Across 110th St.
Lines That Make Things - The A Team (TV episode)
Things That Don't Suck - Blue Collar

Saturday Nov. 20th
Breakfast In the Ruins - Bone
Lost Video Archive - The Park Is Mine


The Thing That Should Not Be said...

Jenny Agutter was in line to play Doctor Crusher?? Jenny 'Get Yer tits out' Agutter?? Maaaaaaan, maybe then I might have WATCHED Next Gen.

Shelby Cobras said...

In related news, me and my girl just got to see An American Werewolf In London on THE BIG SCREEN a couple weeks back. Agutter boobs like 8 FEET WIDE UP IN THIS MOTHERFUCKER.

The Unheard said...

People are talking about Kotto and no one mentioned him as G on Homicide? What about The Running Man? Damn! Nonetheless, cool ass post!

The Thing That Should Not Be said...

8 feet of Agutter norks. I am impressed and aroused.

Cory said...

Being Black and Jewish gave other children even more reason, he has said, to pick on him growing up in New York City. "It was rough coming up," Kotto said. "And then going to shul, putting a yarmulke on, having to face people who were primarily Baptists in the Bronx meant that on Fridays, I was in some heavy fistfights".

Aylmer said...

I love Agutter too, so hot in Logan's Run and American Werewolf. Next Gen would have ruled with her, Kotto and Snipes.

Shelby Cobras said...

Switch Snipes for Reggie Jackson and you've got a deal.

"I must kill. The Queen."

ps captcha is "swinesse", which I define as "the ability to identify a multitude of high-quality pork products using an impeccable sense of taste and/or smell".

abdul alhazred said...

Ah, I was counting on somebody posting that Yaphet Kotto album (the hardcore band). Bootysmack, Cobras.

Crankenstien said...

i love this guy awesome idea! does anyone remember his appearance on michael moore's tv nation as a guy trying to hail a cab?