Joaquin Phoenix (SIGNS, GLADIATOR) leads an all-star cast in a wickedly funny comedy that entertains in the edgy tradition of PULP FICTION. A U.S. soldier with nothing to fight but boredom as the Cold War winds down, Ray E... more »lwood (Phoenix) enjoys the rush of trading anything he can get his hands on in West Germany's booming black market ... while his inept commander (Ed Harris, THE HOURS) is none the wiser. Everything is perfect ... until he starts dating the new sergeant's daughter (Anna Paquin, X-MEN 1 & 2). But before he can pull off one last big score, Elwood's escalating personal war with Sergeant Lee (Scott Glenn, TRAINING DAY) will send him deeper into a deadly mess ... that may not have a way out!« less
Justin Miller | Hudson, OH United States | 08/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just saw this movie at a theater in London and I heard that they are not widely releasing it in the states yet because of the situation in Iraq. All I have to say is thank God I am in London because this is one of the year's best films!! Joaquin Phoenix gives a great performance as a military screw-up and Ed Harris does an excellent job portraying the dumbest military leader ever. Anna Paquin and Scott Glenn give strong performances as well, and the script for this movie is great. If you love black comedies, and laughed at films like Very Bad Things, this is definately a movie for you. After a summer filled with terrible blockbusters like Hulk, it is nice to see a good old flick about soldiers on heroin that blow stuff up and sell Mop-N-Glow on the black market. However, I have a feeling that this film may be the next Boondock Saints, in terms of not getting the recognition that it deserves. It still gets an A+ in my book though."
It's not a satire
M. Dalton | New Orleans, Louisiana United States | 06/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was in the Army in the same time period and almost the exact same area where this film was portrayed, in a little town called Neu Ulm, Germany. I can promise you, this film is not over the top and it's not necessarily taking any artistic license.
Not that every soldier was like Elwood and the rest of them. There were plenty of people who were very strait laced and did their job profesionally. But there were also plenty of people just like the ones in this film, and all of this stuff and worse did take place in the real US Army in this period. In fact I knew a guy who was eerily like Joachim Phoenixes character in this movie. He even looked kind of like him.
I'm sure it's all quite well documented, I know there were plenty of articles in Stars and Stripes and especially in the German media. Look it up online if you don't believe it. There were shootings on base, smuggling and theft rings, drug rings. Horrible racial incidents. Corruption. Riots between different Army units. Just like in the movie there were horrible "training" accidents in which numerous G.I.'s were injured and killed. Routinely. Thats just a fact of military life.
In reading some of the other reviews, I have to wonder. Who do you think your military is? A bunch of saints? A bunch of geniuses? Middle of the road high school graduates, tasked to do very difficult jobs under very trying circumstances (like staying up for days on end which the DOD seemed to have a fetish for making people do) using Extremely dangerous equipment (like tanks!)
Sometimes these kids rose to the occasion, sometimes they cracked under the strain and / or succumbed to temptation. It's just human nature.
Watch this entertaining film but only if you can handle the truth."
Restless soldiers...a good thing?
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 01/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Buffalo Soldiers had its first official release in Canada during the Toronto Film Festival on September 8, 2001. This was days before 9/11 when terrorists flew aircrafts into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Miramax held the film back in concern of how some might react to the anti-war message depicted in the film. Almost a year and half later during the Sundance Film Festival, a woman verbally assaulted the filmmakers by stating that they were anti-American for making the film as she threw a water bottle towards the screen that accidentally hit Anna Paquin. Having this background information prior seeing the film brings the audience to the story in a completely different light, which builds up a pre-viewing atmosphere full of notions.Buffalo Soldiers is an interesting story about Specialist Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix) who runs all kinds of scams on his military base in Germany during the final days of the Cold War when the Berlin Wall is about to plunge. When the new Top Sergeant Lee arrives to his base, there seems to be a new sheriff in town. Lee also happens to bring his daughter Robyn (Anna Paquin) who falls for Elwood. This is a recipe for disaster as Elwood discovers that he also has feelings for Robyn, and Robyn's father is out to get him by all means necessary. Buffalo Soldiers is a comic anti-war drama that is depicted through an atmosphere of boredom among young adults without much life experience and a lot of responsibility. This restlessness among the soldiers is captured with precise directing by Jordan and a good performance by the cast, which leaves the audience with a fine cinematic experience."
A dark look at US Army life in Germany in the late 1980's
Jessica Lux | Rosamond, CA | 04/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Buffalo Soldiers is the story of US Army supply clerk Ray Elwood, played by the handsome and mysterious Joaquin Phoenix. Elwood is one of those go-to-guys who can score anything you need in exchange for the right favor. He has his hands all over the supply chain, drives a sweet German sports car, and knows who to cook up a batch of heroin in spare warehouses. He's a stoic who is well-respected by his peers. He helps his goofball desk jockey boss (played by Ed Harris) keep the base in West Germany in line.
Elwood's life is thrown into personal and romantic turmoil with the arrival of Sgt. Lee (played by Scott Glenn) and his beautiful daughter (Anna Paquin). Sgt. Lee has a personal goal of cleaning house and exposing Elwood's dabblings in the black market. Elwood, of course, decides to antagonize Lee by dating his daughter, and then he falls hard for the young lady. The movie is a dark game of cat and mouse between Lee and Elwood, with the base commander bumbling around in the background in truly comedic fashion. With a few healthy plot twists and elements of both satire and horror, Buffalo Soldiers is a movie to catch on DVD for anyone who likes dark drama/comedy in which the viewer ends up rooting for a handsome "bad guy." Fans of this movie should check out Wonderland and Lord of War."
Muddled black comedy elevated by excellent cast
Scott Schiefelbein | Portland, Oregon United States | 12/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Buffalo Soldiers" is essentially a version of Bill Murray's "Stripes," but only told by a guy who is really, really angry. It's still funny - even inspired, at times - but it's a humor fueled by rage. And that rage causes the story to make a couple of missteps.
Set in 1989 (note the perfect use of then-President Bush's plastic grin in several portraits) on an Army base in West Germany, "Buffalo Soldiers" informs the viewer that the majority of our fighting soldiers are simply there in order to escape a jail sentence. As a result, thieves and drug dealers rule the roost - the top MP is a villainous heroin dealer. The only virtuous soldier is the commanding officer, Colonel Berman (Ed Harris), who is a nice, incompetent buffoon more suited to running a vineyard than a regiment. (This is a wonderful supporting performance by Harris, by the way.)
Almost every Army movie has a "scrounger," the guy who can get things done in the cracks of the system and usually with a lot of charm. In "Buffalo Soldiers," that is Private Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix), the company clerk. We see early on how smooth Elwood is as he simultaneously covers up a drug dealing enterprise while protecting the honor of a soldier who was killed playing tackle football indoors while stoned on about ten different substances - including the Pill. Elwood is a small-time heroin dealer who sells black market Mop & Glo and drives a Mercedes. He is one of the princes of the criminal Army.
His little realm gets invaded by "Topper," Sergeant Robert Lee (Scott Glenn, easily the most sinister Sergeant ever). Lee sizes up Elwood in an instant and brings him down about fifteen pegs - look for an inspired scene involving Lee's bullying of Elwood via "target practice." Lee is unbribable, connected to the general, but also dangerous in that Scott Glenn way.
Elwood also has his little world come apart due to a stoned tank crew on maneuvers. Intoxication leads to two dead American trucks drivers and two trucks full of unclaimed assault rifles. Elwood stumbles across the guns and instantly sees an angle. But he is forced by his connection to take raw narcotics rather than cash as compensation. Elwood, who makes his money by cooking the drugs into a distributable product, is soon playing a game that he does not control, and the bodies begin to mount up.
This is not one of those movies that gently mocks the Army while honoring it. There is nothing gentle or honorable in "Buffalo Soldiers." It is funny. It is dark. And it pulls no punches. While not a great satire in the class of "Thank You for Smoking," it is a worthy satire sure to appeal to the wicked sense of humor in all of us."