38 user 21 critic

The Chocolate War (1988)

R | | Drama | 18 November 1988 (USA)
A surreal portrait of a Catholic Private School and its hierarchy. A new student must submit to the bizarre rituals of his peers and the expectations of the school's administration by ... See full summary »




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2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Brother Leon
Archie (as Wally Ward)
Corey Gunnestad ...
Emile Janza (as Brent Fraser)
Robert Davenport ...
Brian Cochran
Brother Jacques
Wayne Young ...
Gregory Bailey
Kurt Bloom ...
Impressed Kid on Bus
Wyeth Orestes Johnston ...
Senior 'Environment' Kid
Landon Wine ...
Frank Bollo


A surreal portrait of a Catholic Private School and its hierarchy. A new student must submit to the bizarre rituals of his peers and the expectations of the school's administration by selling chocolates. Written by Brooke <soylent@ican.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

18 November 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Guerra do Chocolate  »

Box Office


$303,624 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Contrary to popular belief, this is not Doug Hutchison's first movie. He stated his film debut was as Sproles in Fresh Horses (1988). See more »


Brother Leon: I'm warning you Archie, if the sale goes down the drain, you and the Vigils go down the drain. We all go down the drain together!
See more »


Featured in The Celluloid Closet (1995) See more »


Prelude in C Sharp Minor
The Well Tempered Clavier
By Johann Sebastian Bach (as J.S. Bach)
Courtesy of Audio Action
See more »

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User Reviews

A brilliant film with echoes of Lord of the Flies
18 July 2011 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

My perspective on this film is likely to be unique, in that I've never read the book. The critical reception and most user reviews widely criticize Keith Gordon's re-writing of the book's ending and this was ultimately reflected in its shocking performance at the box office. If you've never read the book, you can effectively ignore all criticism, because The Chocolate War is arguably one of the finest films to explore the dark underbelly of teenage cruelty, manipulation and the childhood induction of the mob mentality and a superb directorial debut for Keith.

John Glover's performance as the twisted and politically carnivorous Brother Leon is stunning and easily his best work. With echoes of Lord of the Flies, The Chocolate War explores the outer reaches of cruelty, fear and control exercised by the two antagonistic forces of the student led secret society The Vigils, and the school's acting school head - Brother Leon. Anyone who has ever been bullied or coerced to side with bullies out of the necessity for self-preservation will find a string of painful moments to relate to in this film.

The soundtrack is a masterpiece of emotion. The intro to Peter Gabriel's "We Do What We're Told" is used as a recurring musical theme providing an atmospheric backdrop to the web of cruelty and manipulation that unfolds for Jerry the protagonist. But the revelation is the haunting piano of "Shepherd's Song" by Scott Cossu, which holds the space for Jerry's introspection, his loss and the tragedy of his situation.

Yes, there are some elements lacking in this film - namely the performance of the hero (Jerry) played by Ilan Mitchell-Smith and some of the dated directorial techniques adopted by Keith Gordon for the flashback sequences and other scenes. However the strength of the story, soundtrack and performances from John Glover and Wallace Langham tower above the film's shortcomings. Keep in mind this was Gordon's feature film directorial debut.

I'm not going to comment on the ending, other than to say it works perfectly for the narrative of this film and is in no way disappointing. To the contrary, it still moves me to tears despite more than half a dozen viewings of this film over the years.

The Chocolate War is difficult to find but absolutely essential viewing.

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