Buffalo Soldiers [DVD] 
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Gregor Jordan's film takes place in Germany during the last days of the Cold War. Stuck on duty as Batallion Clerk at a US Army base in West Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix) maintains a lucrative sideline in blackmarket trade under the nose of his superiors - and is even sleeping with the wife of his boss, Colonel Berman (Ed Harris). Things begin to change, however, when a new sergeant (Scott Glenn) arrives and tries to clean up the base. Elwood thinks he can handle anything, even the sergeant's daughter (Anna Paquin), but he doesn't realise who he is up against.
An Army-base comedy about soldiers "with nothing to kill except time", Buffalo Soldiers invites casual comparison to Catch-22 and M*A*S*H. It's 1989: the Berlin Wall is falling, completing the Cold War's thaw and Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix)--a clerk with the 317th Supply Battalion, stationed in west Germany--combats boredom with a variety of black-market schemes, from cooking heroin for the base's corrupt MPs to dealing stolen arms to the highest bidder, in addition to having a shallow affair with the two-timing wife (Elizabeth McGovern) of his outgoing commander (Ed Harris). Elwood's new CO (Scott Glenn) clamps down on his illegal activities while protecting his daughter (Anna Paquin) from Elwood's advances.
Fine casting and positive buzz couldn't prevent this movie's ironic fate: acquired by Miramax one day before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Buffalo Soldiers was shelved for nearly two years, by which time this dark and defiantly amusing exercise in political incorrectness--based on the novel by Robert O'Connor--had been overshadowed by world events. --Jeff ShannonSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Buffalo soldiers is a black comedy of the highest calibre, set on an American base in Germany around the fall of the Berlin wall. However, rather than taking the usual path of portraying american soldiers as patriotic ultra-commandos, we get an image of some very bored layabouts with some VERY big drugs problems.
Focusing around the central character of Ray Elwood (a career best for the fantastic Joaquin Phoenix), the soldier who will deal in absolutely anything to get himself some money, the plot quickly turns nasty. When a new First Sergeant arrives on the base and starts to take a dislike to Elwood (not helped by the fact that he's going out with his daughter, the lovely Anna Paquin). What follows is an escalating spiral of spite and revenge as Elwood begins to realise the dangers of his chosen professions, both dealer and soldier.
With a superb supporting cast (including Ed Harris playing, for once, a soft-hearted military man, and Scott Glen as Elwood's nemesis) and razor sharp wit, this film takes you into army life as you've never seen it before. Frequently swinging between hilarity (a tank full of junkies mindlessly plowing a German town into the ground), and horrific (said tank eventually plowing into a petrolo station and killing a fair few people doing so), its not suprising that this film didn't perform too well in America.Read more ›
There are some stand out moments in the movie, notably the stoned out tank crew who shoot up on heroin and heaven only knows what else, and proceed to crush an October Fest celebration in a small German town. The acting by the spaced out commander is hysterically funny, brilliant moment. At the end of the film the drugged out soldiers in a basement drugs laboratory is awesome, great cinematography and a real atmosphere of narcotic fumes. This is when boiling point is reached with the explosive finale.
In the fine tradition of war comedies like Dr Strangelove, MASH and Catch 22, Buffalo Soliders succeeds admirably in sending up the crushing tedium of men at arms, with some marvellous set pieces. There is a lack of films like this with black anarchic comedy, instead we are presented serious studies which have a similair homogeneity. Tyrants always fear the satirist.
In comes Elwood's sadistic new CO (Scott Glenn) who takes an instant dislike to him. In retaliation to the CO's resulting act's, Elwood starts to date his daughter (Anna Paquin) and what was a game to Elwood quickly becomes very serious.
As Elwood struggles to keep a grip on the ensuing situations, drugged up soldiers provide a surprising comedy aspect and you find yourself smiling (or even laughing) at some quite horrific things. The film gives off a real sense of doom as you wait for something really bad to happen, and even though undeserving, you find yourself rooting for Elwood.
This film is a refreshing and welcome change to the usual American soldier portrayal (which is probably why it didn't do so well in the US) and the superb supporting cast (Ed Harris was originally offered the part of the CO but wanted the part of the soft-hearted military man) along with the witty dialogue and awesome soundtrack makes this film a must buy for me. It won't be everyone's cuppa, so I will not tell you to be fooled by any bad reviews. If in doubt, rent it first.........then BUY IT!!!!
Which is a shame as there's much to commend Buffalo Soldiers, which shares the same edgy approach towards America and much of what it stands for as The Doom Generation,Fight Club, Natural Born Killers,The Rules of Attraction, & Three Kings. Buffalo Soldiers is the kind of film that doesn't have an issue with criticising a certain kind of America: one that is in thrall these days.
It also belongs to a classic American-genre, across the mediums, one that shows the other side of war to that glamorous militarist-ideology peddled by distant generals, or more distant chickenhawk-politicians. So it can be filed alongside texts such as Catch 22, The Naked & The Dead, Dog Soldiers/Who'll Stop the Rain, Biloxi Blues, the first half of Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, Tigerland & a whole lot more (& yes I did think about saying something like,"Sgt Bilko on amphetamines!")
The film is a little plotless, then again so is Withnail & I and that's fine, thank you very much. The always watchable Phoenix is ideally cast here as our hero- stuck at the end of the Cold War in West Germany, bored out of his idiot-head over the lack of actual war.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved this film back when released buzzing for a penny great film recommend watching if haven't beforePublished 9 months ago by James Rolfe
Buffalo Soldiers is one of those films that has you laughing, "Oh s***!" and then a few seconds later dropping an octave or two saying, "Oh s***. Read morePublished on 30 Mar. 2013 by Morticia Crone
Joaquin Phoneix is always worth watching in just about anything he does. Here he plays Ray Elwood, a profoundly anti-heroic American soldier in late 1980s Germany, trying to keep... Read morePublished on 14 April 2012 by Aidan J. McQuade
Does River's brother have to look raped too???
Bad scene! Go make coffee why its going on,maybe,or wonder why..?
Looks good already why have to look "Ejaculated"! Read more