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Buffalo Soldiers Review

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by AVForums Jan 1, 2004 at 12:00 AM

    Buffalo Soldiers Review
    From director Gregor Jordan (Ned Kelly), and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Ed Harris and Anna Paquin (X-Men), Buffalo Soldiers is set at the end of the Cold War and tells the tale of an American military base in Germany, and the dysfunctional, bored soldiers which occupy it.

    The movie is shot from the point of view of Ray Elwood (Phoenix), a supply clerk on the base who wheels and deals on the side; whether it be military supplies or his burgeoning drug empire, there's nothing he won't do to make a buck. With no qualms he takes advantage of the weak - and sensitive - base commander, Colonel Berman (Ed Harris), all to make some more money...

    As fortune would have it, Elwood and Co. stumble across two truckloads of arms, and thinking of his wallet more than his or his friends lives, he steals them in the hope of making a few cool million. Enter stage left Sergeant Lee (Scott Glenn), the taskmaster whose job it is to clean up the base, and it's not before the two characters clash...

    Buffalo Soldiers is superb. Unique in tone, though there are echoes of MASH and Catch-22 here, Gregor Jordan has delivered a darkly comic tale of peacetime military that's as sharp and witty as it is irreverent. Proceedings feel low-key yet the movie is full of memorable moments - from the tank-crew getting high and rampaging across the town (what a classic moment), to the interludes of Elwood's nightmares of falling - everything is executed well, with a lot of laughs but neigh a slapstick moment in sight.

    Performances are excellent too, and though the majority of them could be considered understated, this only serves to enhance the unique tone of the movie. And without a doubt the performances are helped by a superb script which is perfectly paced with lots of good lines.

    I've likely failed to truly convey how good this movie is; it's not your usual Hollywood blockbuster fayre, and it certainly won't be to everyone's tastes, but unless you're in the minority you'll find that within minutes of the opening credits Buffalo Soldiers will get under your skin and stay there until the last frame has rolled off your screen. Highly recommended.