Soccer legend Pele stars in this inspirational yet forgotten sports tale of one man’s search to find himself through the sport he loves.
Jimmy Kristidis comes from a rich Greek family. Always expected to follow in the family business, he has only thing in mind: soccer. A longtime player, Jimmy tries out for the New York Rockers, a professional soccer team. However, he hides his identity in an attempt to make a name for himself. His biggest problem is his ego. He thinks he is better than everyone else and the coach does see potential, but constantly benches him because of his attitude.
When Jimmy’s best friend Vinnie, who had joined the team with him, is seriously injured during a match, Jimmy demands to be played. However, the coach suspends him for two months due to his poor attitude and ego. Jimmy decides to go to Brazil and seek out Santos, a legend who had long retired from the sport and had decided to forget the game.
Jimmy, who was robbed upon his arrival, helps Santos with housework and while he hopes Santos can help mentor him, he is met with constant resistance. When Santos slowly begins to see the effort Jimmy has put in and seeing the kid’s constant love for the sport, he finally finds himself. Santos decides to help mentor Jimmy in not only being the best as a soccer player, but being the best as a person. The experience changes Jimmy both as a player and as a person as he returns to New York with a fresh new outlook on both life and soccer.
Released in 1986, this film from Rick King (Kickboxer 3: The Art of War) has been long forgotten as it disappeared upon the end of the home VHS market. However, it truly is known for its appearance of Pele as the mentor of our young hero who finds himself as he remembers why he loves soccer in the first place. Pele plays a legendary soccer player who has since forgotten the game and lost his passion for reasons unknown. While in certain scenarios, the student learns from the teacher, this film shows that both the teacher and student learn from each other and that’s what makes this film somewhat inspirational.
Jim Youngs, who perhaps is more known for his role of Chuck in the original Footloose (1984), plays Jimmy Kristidis as an arrogant Greek-born rich boy who has a passion for soccer. One wonders why he has to let up the ego. Perhaps it comes from the fact Jimmy comes from an aristocratic family or maybe Jimmy feels somewhat threatened by his teammates and had to let his guard up. However, the case, when seeing him in arrogant mode, you may seem somewhat bothered. Eventually, Jimmy does grow up and when his new attitude shows in the film, you will want to root for him.
The soccer sequences are quite exciting. The cast, which includes Mario Van Peebles as Jamaican player Winston, got their training from John Stavros, who plays one of the Rockers. Look for future L.A. Law and NYPD Blue actor Jimmy Smits as member of the Dallas Stars. It’s virtually a blink and you’ll miss it appearance from the actor. The final match shows some exciting goals, including one member of the rival team doing a very nice goal when he has the ball in between his ankles while on the ground and doing some sort of lob in that position. Then of course, for those who know Pele well, expect to see his trademark bicycle kick in the film.
Released on DVD in 1998 but now out of print, it would be great for this film to now get a proper DVD release. Hotshot boasts from a good cast, storyline where teacher and student learn from each other, and exciting soccer sequences.
WFG RATING: A-
An Arista Films production. Director: Rick King. Producer: Steve Pappas. Writers: Rick King and Joe Sauter. Cinematography: Greg Andracke and Edgar Moura. Editing: Stan Salfas.
Cast: Jim Youngs, Pele, Billy Warlock, Leon Russom, Mario Van Peebles, Weyman Thompson, Rutanya Alda, Peter Henry Schroeder, David Groh.