Buffalo Soldiers

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


Gregor Jordan (Two Hands) returns to Sundance with Buffalo Soldiers, a high-pitched romp that teeters between drama and farce, delivering a welcome antidote to the onslaught of recent glorifications of all things military.

It is 1989 on an American base in Germany, just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Special fourth-class soldier Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix) and his gang of GI accomplices are heavy into a regular regime of pilfering supplies, haggling on the local black market, and keeping a thriving drug business going by cooking up drugs right under the base commander's (Ed Harris) nose. When they accidentally stumble onto two truckloads of highly sophisticated weaponry worth millions, the opportunity is too good to pass up. The only fly in the ointment is the new top sergeant (Scott Glenn),who takes one look at the flashy Rolex a soldier sports and decides to kick butt. Elwood, in return, takes one look at the sergeant's hot daughter and decides to fight back.

Jordan has crafted a brilliant piece of subversion with clever, robust characterizations that are nailed by the distinguished cast. Phoenix and Glenn are wildly entertaining as adversaries, but it is Harris who turns in an amazing performance that epitomizes military ineptitude and career torpor.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

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