is more than merely Deliverance
in the Louisiana Bayou. Walter Hill's taut little tale of weekend warrior National Guardsman on swamp exercises reverberates with echoes of Vietnam. Powers Booth brings a hard pragmatism to the "new guy" in the unit, a Texas transplant less than thrilled with his new unit. "They're just Louisiana versions of the same rednecks I served with in El Paso", he tells level-headed Keith Carradine.
The barely functional unit of city boys and macho rednecks invade the environs of the local Cajun trappers and poachers, "borrowing" the locals' boats and sending bursts of blank rounds over their heads in a show of contempt. Before they know it the dysfunctional strangers in a strange land are on the losing end of guerrilla war. The swamp rats kill their commanding officer (Peter Coyote) and terrorise the bickering bunch as they flee blindly through the jungle without a map, a compass, or a leader to speak of. Hill directs with a clean simplicity, creating tension as much from the primal landscape and the Cajuns' unsettling reign of terror as from the dynamics of a platoon of battle virgins tearing itself apart from rage and fear. Ry Cooder's eerie and haunting score and the primal, claustrophobic landscape only intensifies the paranoia as the city boys splinter with infighting (sparked by a bullying Fred Ward), blunder through booby traps and ambushes, and finally turn just as savage as their pursuers in their drive to survive. --Sean Axmaker, Amazon.com
United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital Stereo ), ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN (1.78:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Anamorphic Widescreen, Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: A handful of part time soldiers unwittingly turn a field exercise into a miniature war in this offbeat action drama from writer and director Walter Hill. A group of National Guard reservists are sent to Louisiana on a chilly weekend for war games exercises. None of these weekend warriors seem especially happy to be there, especially laid-back Spencer (Keith Carradine), tightly-wound macho man Reece (Fred Ward) and transplanted Texan Hardin (Powers Booth). While making their way through swamp country, the reservists discover their maps are out of date and they've become lost. Rather than march back to camp and start over, they decide to "borrow" several canoes they've found by the banks of the bayou, which should put them back on track. When a Cajun local catches the soldiers stealing his canoes, Stuckey (Lewis Smith) fires a few rounds in his direction; for the purposes of their exercises, the Guardsmen have been given blank shells, so Stuckey imagines this is a harmless way to scare the man off. However, the Cajun soon returns fire -- with real bullets. After Poole (Peter Coyote) is killed by a shotgun blast, the Guardsmen find themselves lost in a place they do not understand, surrounded by angry men determined to drive the unwelcome visitors off their land at all costs. A taut and atmospheric action film which is also serves as an intelligent and evocative metaphor for America's role in the Vietnam war, Southern Comfort also features an excellent score by guitarist (and frequent Walter Hill collaborator) Ry Cooder. ...Southern Comfort