Pelé and A Sports Movie Rarity

Rick King wrote and directed a fair number of films including The Killing Time starring Beau Bridges and Kiefer Sutherland. None of them were hits per se, though he did win a CableAce Award for his work as director on miniseries Vietnam War StoryKing was also just a writer on certain projects including Point Break which did go on to be a significant hit and spawned a remake just a few years ago. 

He explored some similar territory throughout his work, most notably, the “unlikely buddy” dynamic. In Point Break for example, Keanu Reeves (who plays Utah) gets seemingly bromanced but also blackmailed into a friendship with criminal Bodhi, played by Patrick Swayze. As they were both athletes, therein developed a certain level of camaraderie and respect, despite the two being on very different sides of the law.

In another notable Rick King sports film Hotshot, the legendary Brazilian football (soccer) great and erstwhile thespian Pelé, plays a forgotten champion. He has turned his back on the game until he encounters another great who must overcome his own self defeat to claim the greatness they can only achieve together. 

The Hotshot cast is stellar and stars Jim Youngs (remember Footloose? The tractor scene opposite Kevin Bacon in that game of chicken? THAT Jim Youngs). 

While he’s a solid soccer player, Jimmy (Youngs) is a spoiled, arrogant, troubled, and out of control rich kid. He blows his career with his current team and is suspended. To make things worse, his close friend ends up paralyzed. So hitting rock bottom, Jimmy has an epiphany, seeks out the legendary Santos (Pelé basically playing himself) all in an attempt to channel his wisdom and grace and mount a comeback; and do it all for his paralyzed pal. Well in real buddy fashion, they become fast friends and enjoy a series of shenanigans in Brazil as Pelé becomes the ‘Mr. Miyagi’ to Youngs’ Daniel San. Jimmy is seemingly rehabilitated, and as you would imagine, there is a rousing come from behind denouement that would make any 80’s sports movie fan, well, feel like they may have seen it coming from behind or at least seen it before.

There’s reason to watch if just for Pelé alone, but also because pro soccer in the USA was never as big as the now prescient Mr. King made it look in Hotshot. And Jim Youngs never got another chance to lead a big film like this (maybe for the better). 

Rounding out this veritable cast of thesps is a classic Mario Van Peebles playing a Jamaican defender who literally lights up at halftime. Penelope Ann Miller is a knockout as the love interest, and Jimmy Smits can be seen in a tight 80s soccer uniform. Also a knockout.

Pelé has only been in a few movies (and currently featured in a doc on Netflix, art above), but in Hotshot he's at his best and probably has more lines than in (the admittedly better) Victory. That said, he was in so few movies that TheArchive has 4K restored this sports buddy movie rarity for you to stream free now.

Want more soccer? Check out Kicking It featuring Colin Farrell:



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