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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The oliver stone you overlooked
WHAT A MASTERPIECE! An unrelenting rollercoater of a ride that tightens your attention with every scene.
After a remarkable and aggresisve opening score that hints at what is ahead, there follows an easy and uncomplicated start introducing the anti hero, the washed up amoral photo journalist Richard Boyle (James Woods) casually making one final throw of his career...
Published on 14 Dec 2005 by Mark J Linehan

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Powerful
When instead of a documentary, an actual Hollywood director's film tries to shed some light on a dark and almost forgotten chapter on America's unspoken history - namely their involvement in the political destabilization of many countries in Central and South America during the Reagan era, something that the United States still doesn't teach in school today (unlike what...
Published 4 months ago by Griesmayer


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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The oliver stone you overlooked, 14 Dec 2005
By 
Mark J Linehan (Bristol United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
WHAT A MASTERPIECE! An unrelenting rollercoater of a ride that tightens your attention with every scene.
After a remarkable and aggresisve opening score that hints at what is ahead, there follows an easy and uncomplicated start introducing the anti hero, the washed up amoral photo journalist Richard Boyle (James Woods) casually making one final throw of his career dice: a trip with Doctor Rock (James Belushi) to El Salvador to cover growing civil unrest. Within minutes the ride accelerates; through Wood's camera lens, all the characters of a civil war unfold (the secret police/the innocent/the soldiers/the church/the death squads/the culture of both sides). The genius of Stone here is that he perfectly combines the micro (the effect on individual emotions and daily lives) with the bigger issues (the method of decision making and impact of US foreign policy). There are a few big twists along the way and they are shocking and yes, depressing. John Savage gives a great performance as the fearless war photographer John Cassady. The approach to the climax is gripping - as civil war intesifies, Stone focuses the lens further into Woods: his changing emotions, his move from an observer to a participating victim, his frantic attempts to help those around him. The pace just gets faster with every minute.
Overall, a film that sharpely portrays individual brutality and abuse of power. Clearly there is a political message that Stone is pressing - the impact of US foreign policy militarily supporting a corrupt government against the wishes of a democratic majority (topical!). Is it historically accurate? Is it propaganda? What we do know is that the movie had an advisor who was killed in El Salvador during production. Perhaps it should be taken at face value - a brilliant piece of film making.
My favourite scene: "HEFE, IMPORTANTO!!"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest films ever made, 29 Jan 2009
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This is a brilliant critique of US foreign policy during the 80's, as well as a very gritty depiction of the military government and the insurgency of the time. There's no happy ending, no redemption for anyone, just the reality of the situation.

James Woods gives a career best performance as the sleazy Richard Boyle, with Belushi's character giving some comic relief in between harrowing scenes of massacres and death squads. John Savage is equally excellent as another photo journalist on a mission to capture the `perfect shot' The story pretty much sticks to the historical facts with minor adjustments (like Romero's assassination, wasnt in the main cathedral)

I visited El Salvador in '94, a couple of years after the peace accord, and the signs of the devastating civil war were still very apparent. The sheer number of people with missing limbs were a stark reminder of what happened, and bought to mind the scene in the film where the nun (who was subsequently raped and killed) was trying to fit a child with a prosthetic arm.

The excellent documentary on the DVD also gives some interesting insight into the events of the time, along with some amusing anecdotes about the making of the film.

Should be required viewing for anyone interested in the politics or history of area. Or anyone who just wants to see a great film.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic., 16 Sep 2001
By A Customer
Oliver Stone's best film. Possibly one of the finest films - certainly most underrated - of the last 20 years. Shot on a next-to-nothing budget the sheer craziness of Stone's approach to filming trasmits bags of energy onto the screen. The story is straightforward enough: the main character of journalist Richard Boyle is full of human flaws but with a hint of redemption. James Woods is stunning as usual; James Belushi gives him a great run for his money; and watch for John Savage's (why don't we see more of him?) brilliantly low-key turn as a war photographer who dies for his craft. There's more truth about journalism in both the Woods' and Savage's character than you'd expect (I'm a journalist - trust me - it's fairly accurate). In all, it's grim viewing but enlightening. Not without humour too: scene of groomed US network TV correspondent melting-down on acid slipped into her drinks is great. This is a film that will endure. It breathes humanity and points to harsh, bitter realities that many in the media would prefer to ignore. Bravo, Stone!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, 2 Mar 2014
By 
Griesmayer (Wien, Österreich) - See all my reviews
When instead of a documentary, an actual Hollywood director's film tries to shed some light on a dark and almost forgotten chapter on America's unspoken history - namely their involvement in the political destabilization of many countries in Central and South America during the Reagan era, something that the United States still doesn't teach in school today (unlike what is taught in detail about the Nazi period in German schools, as a counter example of a nation admitting, accepting and dealing with its historical warcrimes) - you know you gotta watch it.

El Salvador is a powerful film. Something I can recommend is watching The Killing Fields (detailing the evacuation of American journalists - among them Sydney Schanberg and Dith Pran - in the final days of Cambodia before the Pol Pot regime took over and started its genocide) prior to this film, because interestingly, this film makes many references to Schanberg and what had happened in Cambodia, so it kinda feels like a sequel, except taking place waay over on the other side of the globe, but once again, the same story: communist uprising against CIA-funded puppet government.

As a kid who was born in 1991 this truly is like stepping into a time machine and going back - not too far back, as we've already heard enough about WWI and WWII, but rather (frighteningly) just a *little* bit back, into a time just a couple decades ago when WWII was long over and you'd expect all to be well, but the exact opposite actually happening. Chile, Guatemala, El Salvador, Vietnam, Cambodia, Angola... a "world war" was very much going on, alright - first world countries like to call it the "Cold War" because no fighting happened on American or Russian soil, but I find this term awfully racist. As if only the spilling of innocent white blood turns a conflict into a "real" war. Fact is, not just in space but also on Earth were America and Soviet Russia arm-wrestling with the world as their table, and the blood of countless non-whites was being spilt as a result of the ensuing political turmoils in more countries than I can count. But let's call it "Cold War", alright...

It's truly scary how the United States was like a God among men - its omnipresent reach extending from Vietnam in the east all the way to Nicaragua in the West. America was everywhere, paranoid that the entire world was turning red, and thus doing everything possible to "protect the future of American citizens".

Salvador tries to shed a little light into this global conflict - we follow the nearly broke reporter Richard Boyle (James Woods) and his buddy Doc Rock (James Belushi) as they foolheartedly get in their car and travel south from California to El Salvador to get some cheap prostitutes, booze and hopefully a good story on the developing civil war. What happens to them there however, leaves them - and us - scarred.

While Salvador does spend a little too much time having the characters dick around, the film still has several genuinely powerful moments that save it and thus give it a solid three stars. There are some scenes that have been criticized as unauthentic, such as the cavalry charge scene ("this is Salvador, not Mexico - learn the difference, gringos!", as one local reviewer put it) I still feel that it didn't detract from the overall feel of the film. And while some dead characters are clearly seen breathing (maybe not on VHS but definitely on DVD), the film is nevertheless recommendable. I only wish the director had spent more time portraying the horrors of war than showing a drunk Belushi trying to keep his balance. 3/5
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You've become just like them., 4 July 2013
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Based around the real life experiences of journalist Richard Boyle, we are in 1980 and Boyle is not only in crisis torn El Salvador, he's also in it up to his neck.

It sometimes gets forgotten just what a great director Oliver Stone can be, strip away his ability to ruffle feathers on a seemingly perennial basis, and you find some pieces of work that are stark and striking for all the right reasons. Salvador is one such film, sometimes criminally forgotten, it remains to this day a searing tale of tension amongst the troubles of a Latin American hell hole. Boyle is right in amongst the implosion of a civil war, death squads and guerrillas from each side pull him from pillar to post as he tries to protect his Salvadorian girlfriend, while his friends and connections all are in peril purely for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Salvador triumphs mainly because Stone and his team have managed to capture all the building emotions of the main players, it's not just Boyle, it's the American government types, the press itself, and of course the crumbling Salvador people themselves, all things mold together in one big worrying pot boiler. James Woods plays Boyle and he is magnificent, managing to make an unlikeable character sympathetic, Woods {with Stone prompting for sure} clearly challenging himself to play out a career high. James Belushi also delivers his career best work, perfectly brusque and oblivious, his Dr Rock is the perfect foil for Woods' emotive Boyle. Then there is plaudits for Elpidia Carillo as Maria, charged with being the love interest amongst this carnage, she layers it perfectly for a very memorable performance.

Salvador bizarrely is at times a humorous picture, but the laughs are all of the uneasy kind, because ultimately Stone's attempt at getting into the nitty-gritty of troubled El Salvador, is a harsh, and at times, a humbling experience. 9/10
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simply just a stunning film, 22 Jan 2006
When you watch the opening scene of Salvador it seems like a road movie, similar to the likes of Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas. Then they turn a corner. From then on we are taking on a bumpy ride, a masterpiece of filmmaking.
Salvador tells the true story of Richard Boyle, a photographer and journalist played magnificently and charismatically by the highly underrated James Wood. The character is dislikeable but is complimented by his drug-fuelled sidekick played by Jim Belushi.
With such a controversial and gritty subject matter it needed a Director to give it some edge. Oliver Stone does this superbly, he delves into an upsetting storyline, which many people try not to think about, it’s a very controversial film, which Oliver Stone is recognised for. It shows the atrocities of war and is handled without any sympathy for the viewer, dead bodies are everywhere and a strong political statement is made, showing what a mess was being made in El Salvador at the time and how the public were not made aware of this subject matter.
It is a very powerful movie and nothing tries to deter that, there are very controversial scenes and it is not for the weak hearted but this is what helps it in being such a powerful movie. It isn’t discussed as much as some of Oliver’s other work, but it is by no means not as good. I would consider it way up there with platoon and JFK, if not better. Stunning and an absolute must see.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brings a new dimension to a classic film, 16 Dec 2002
By 
simon gurney (london United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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It would be hard to rate the film itself as anything other than a 5, and the Dvd presentation is excellent and crammed with extra features which add an extra dimension to the film.
The making of documentary is the suprise highlight, and must rate as the most honest and enlightening making off documentary to be included on any Dvd, its actually far more nlightening than the directors commentary.
The film itself is based on a true story of gonzo journalists covering the civil war in el salvador during the 70s and 80s, jim belushi and james woods not possibly being the most likely team, but they are both at their best, far surpassing the mass of dross both worked on post salvador.
There are very few englsih films which depict such an insightful view of central america, and its hard nor to draw comparisons with events of now.
a great dvd for any collection, the story of the making of the film being as entertaining as the end product, lots of cut scenes and extra material, strangley though the making of documentary contains scenes which werent in the film or in the extra cut scenes.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettably brutal, harsh and sick, 26 Feb 2014
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And that's just for one single scene which WILL stay with you, hours, days, weeks, months even years after first viewing. Rest of the film is bloody. And violent. Acting is ace. But a tragic, sad story. With little or no happy end in sight. Relentlessly grim and distressing. Goes beyond the borders of taste and decency. Way beyond.
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5.0 out of 5 stars just/as required, 27 Dec 2013
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no problems at all/ just as advertised, well worth the money, would use again,
very good service on all counts
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5.0 out of 5 stars A real underated actor, 13 Mar 2009
By 
Mr. G. L. C. Sexton (Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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James Woods and James Belushi excel in this highly political movie. For me it is Woods Second best Movie...His best is Split Image. I have just purchased COP and I reckon Mr Woods will not dissapoint. A Bloody Good Film.
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Salvador [VHS]
Salvador [VHS] by Oliver Stone (VHS Tape - 2001)
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