It's sad that Busey never really made it as a leading man, because in this film he gives an absolutely fantastic performance as the wronged man Buck Matthews. Unfaily sent to prison by corrupt sheriff Seymour Cassel for killing a man in self-defence, Vietnam vet Buck is released and heads home. Things have gone decidedly bad since he was gone as the town is now in the grip of a sadistic, drug-running motorcycle gang headed by AIP veteran William Smith. Needless to say, the sheriff is on the gang's payroll and also happens to be Buck's parole officer, so things don't look good for our hero.
The film is, of course, a revenge picture as Buck engages in single handed combat with the gang after they kill his wife and traumatise his daughter. He even has his own special vehicle for the task: a weapon-laden pick-up truck sent to him by a Latino drug lord whose life he saved while in the slammer. Yes, it's THAT kind of film.
But it is actually pulled of rather well by writer Michael Montgomery and 'Vanishing Point' director Richard Sarafian. The action sequences, though sometimes grisly (a wire decapitation), are handled well, especially Buck's final assault on Smith's stronghold when good cop Yaphet Kotto finally decides to step in and help him. Kotto, Cassel and Smith all turn in excellent performances, with Cassel being particularly slimy as the crooked cop. It's very satisfying when he gets his comeuppance. The final fight between Busey and Smith is very well-handled.
Although the famous Survivor song is a bit overused, it seems very appropriate for the movie's action. The original music score by Don Preston is very rousing as well. I can honestly say that while Busey is excellent at playing villains like Mr. Joshua from 'Lethal Weapon' and Commander Kril from 'Under Siege', he shows here that if you give him decent enough material, and overlook some of his personal problems, he can carry a film and make it enjoyable. I enjoy 'Eye Of The Tiger' thoroughly as a great 80s action 'missing gem', and I recommend it to my fellow IMDb users with confidence.