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A squad of National Guards on an isolated weekend exercise in the Louisiana swamp must fight for their lives when they anger local Cajuns by stealing their canoes. Without live ammunition and in a strange country, their experience begins to mirror the Vietnam experience. Written by
Keith Loh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This little gem is a moral story about how things can go wrong, very badly, when someone for a lark opens fire with blanks - those you shoot at have no chance to know that and thus rightfully shoot back, which starts a killing spree from both sides.
One side is a troop out of the Loisiana National Guard on exercise in the swamps, the other is the locals, who enjoy their French culture and life out in the swamp.
None is more evil than the other, none is more mad than the other, but the soldiers are far from home, and out of their element.
Walter Hill, the director and co-writer of Southern Comfort, does a very good job in this tale clearly inspired by the events in Viet Nam. Hill is maybe more known for such diverse films as 48 hours, Brewster's millions and Last Man Standing, and as the producer of Alien and Tales from the Crypt,.
Andrew Laszlo, for many known as the cinematographer of films like Rambo: First Blood and the TV-series Shogun, does a fantastic job here
very poetic photography in this grim setting.
Many of the actors have never been better, before, or after. This is not least true for Powers Boothe, who plays the only outsider among the soldiers. He has never been better since, Keith Carradine (who some of us remember from 'Hair' on Braodway, or 'Nashville' - which earned him an Oscar for a song!) is the intellectual, Fred Ward (Escape from Alcatraz, Short Cuts) is the cool killer type, Peter Coyote ('Keys' in E.T.) is the staff sergeant lost in the woods, Alan Autry ('Bubba' in 'In the heat of the night') freaks out, completely, Brion James (Bladerunner) excellently plays a one-armed Cajun trapper whose life take a turn for the bad when he is blamed for the first death, and Les Lannon (Silkwood, in which Fred Ward also appeared) is the sergeant that is totally out of his league in the swamp. These are just a few of the excellent cast. Forgot: One of the guys hunting the Guards is Sandy Landham, well known for his excellent acting in Predator. Scary guy - he even had a personal bodyguard during the filming of Predator - to protect those around him from his tantrums!
Add to this Ry Cooder's musical genius, in the film he's performing with Jim Dickinson and Milt Holland, the Cajun setting, and ditto music and dancing, and you have a film to remember for ever.
The only thing I don't like is the ending - did Hill run out of ideas about how to do it?
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