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Buffalo Soldiers Review

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by AVForums May 1, 2004

    Buffalo Soldiers Review
    Adapted from the novel by Robert
    O'Connor, director Gregor Jordan's
    film centres on an American Army base in
    West Germany circa 1989.
    With the Cold War winding down, the
    troops stationed there have nothing but
    time on their hands, and one in particular,
    Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix) has turned
    his attention elsewhere. Having chosen life
    in the army over a prison sentence for
    grand theft auto, Elwood was never going
    to be great military material, but the cocky
    clerk has found another calling - dealing
    drugs to his comrades and selling military
    goods on the local black market, right
    under the nose of the idiotic Colonel
    Berman (Ed Harris). His comfortable life
    finally comes crashing down around him
    when the no-nonsense Sergeant Lee
    (Scott Glenn) moves to the base and sets
    about putting things straight. While he
    gets into a personal battle with Lee over
    his illegal business, Elwood ups the stakes
    even further by dating the Sergeant's badgirl
    daughter Robyn (Anna Paquin).
    While this isn't particularly original - let's
    face it, the plot is essentially a racier
    version of Sgt Bilko - Buffalo Soldiers
    delivers because neither of the two
    protagonists are presented in black and
    white terms. While Elwood may be the
    film's nominal hero, it's easy to see why
    Sgt. Lee detests him so much.
    Part drama, part jet-black comedy, this
    is a spry, scathing and often hilarious look
    at the realities of military life during peace
    time, with great performance all round.