Buffalo Soldiers

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Max Blinkhorn

Read Jennie Kermode's film review of Buffalo Soldiers
Buffalo Soldiers

By the end of this film, death could come to Elwood in so many different ways. He is Bilko in black, a modern, ambitious spiv, a criminal and menacing version of Radar O'Reilly in M.A.S.H. All knowing, all seeing, all selling, Elwood does deals and is manipulated sexually by his Captain's bored wife. The arrival of savvy Sergeant Lee, played perfectly by Scott Glenn, threatens to cramp his style. Lee has seen it all before and knows how to handle Elwood, for whom this appears to be the beginning of the end.

On DVD, it looks very good, doesn't try too hard and isn't overblown. Based on Robert O'Connor's novel and directed by Gregor Jordan, Buffalo Soldiers has a great story - corruption and selfishness amongst "the good guys" - at its core.

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The use of Wide Screen means it's best seen in 16:9 format if only to fit in all the tank gun barrels, but if you don't have that, normal format will be fine. There's a director's commentary, which, for once, is fascinating - and easy listening, too.

The trailer is, as usual, a complete carrot and simply doesn't do justice to the film. Anatomy Of A Scene and Behind The Scenes expose the production bones. The pyrotechnics were genuinely dangerous and in one scene a tank comes very close to squishing one of the extras, demonstrating Jordan's desire for realism, rather than to generate blood and gore. With subtitles and lots of audio options for home cinema buffs, this is a good package.

Interviews with the actors seem to mark Jordan out as someone worth working with. All of them express their appreciation of him, without blinking. Certainly he comes across as competent and committed in his own interview.

The denouement, seen without the stop-start aids of DVD is spectacular. With them, it's amazing and in terms of the relationship between the two men, on the point of being touching, amid the inferno. Jordan uses digital effects throughout film and mostly you don't notice, which is the way it should be. However, a flypast of helicopters in the opening sequence has obviously been added later.

All in all, Buffalo Soldiers is a very good offering and the DVD extras lay open the inner workings of its creative elements. With a timely and relevant message, it has something to say and says it well.

Reviewed on: 30 Mar 2005
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Buffalo Soldiers packshot
Cynical depiction of life as a US soldier in Germany, 1989.
Amazon link

Product Code: CCD30133

Region: 2

Ratio: 2.35 Anamorphic Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Sundance Channel

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