Thunderheart (1992)

R  |   |  Crime, Mystery, Thriller  |  3 April 1992 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 10,919 users  
Reviews: 85 user | 15 critic

A young mixed-blood FBI agent is assigned to work with a cynical veteran investigator on a murder on a poverty-stricken Sioux reservation.



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2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Coutelle
Jack Milton
Sheila Tousey ...
Maggie Eagle Bear
Ted Thin Elk ...
Grandpa Sam Reaches (as Chief Ted Thin Elk)
Jimmy Looks Twice
Julius Drum ...
Richard Yellow Hawk
Sarah Brave ...
Maisy Blue Legs
Allan R.J. Joseph ...
Leo Fast Elk
Sylvan Pumpkin Seed ...
Agent Mackey
FBI Agent
Brian A. O'Meara ...
FBI Agent


An FBI man with Sioux background is sent to a reservation to help with a murder investigation, where he has to come to terms with his heritage. Slowly he rejects the intimidating tactics of his fellow FBI agents, who are not so interested in solving the crime as covering up an incriminating situation with the locals, and as he becomes more tuned to his heritage, the locals begin trusting him. Based on actual Reservation occurrences of the '70s. Written by Ed Sutton <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Two men from different worlds. Two cops after the same killer. Together they must uncover the secrets. Together they must discover the truth.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, and for some areas of violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

3 April 1992 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Coeur de tonnerre  »

Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)


$22,660,758 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The movie contains several references to the original Wounded Knee incident, which took place on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1890. For instance, the character William Dawes shares a surname with Senator Henry Dawes, of Dawes Act notoriety. The Dawes Act's goal was to assimilate American Indians into white society. Additionally, Frank Coutelle refers to Walter Crow Horse as "Crowfoot". Crowfoot was the name of the first of Sitting Bull's sons to be shot and killed at the original Wounded Knee massacre. See more »


When LeVoi places the injured child in Maggie Eagle Bear's arms, there are blood stains on his shirt at the left shoulder and on the right near his waistline. When he attacks the shooters in clinic parking lot, there is no blood on the right side of his shirt. See more »


Bartender: Goddamn prairie niggers!
See more »


Featured in Reel Injun (2009) See more »


Written and Performed by Bruce Springsteen
Courtesy of Columbia Records
by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Fair realism
19 February 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Many have dismissed this film as 'too Hollywood' or fictionalized. Many don't understand just what went on in 'The Incident at Oglala'. Others wonder why it was so under-promoted. The US Government doesn't want anything promoted that shows their VERY dark side. Many US citizens do not know, do not want to know, or refuse to believe that their government does the exact same things that we chastise other governments for. I'm Native American myself (Cherokee/Powhattan), a tribal volunteer, and a Native Activist. The FBI has a file on me. My phone is tapped. This is what happens when you're involved in activities that reveal what your government is really up to. Yes, it is a 'fictionalized' account, but if you're familiar with the story, you know that Fred Ward is former chairman Dick Wilson, who helped the US Government to draw attention away from the fact that he was selling off 1/8 of the Pine Ridge Reservation for uranium mining, without the rest of the people knowing. Jimmy Looks Twice is vaguely based on Leonard Peltier (though I don't think anyone has claimed Leonard could shapeshift), and Maggie Eagle Bear is an excellent description of Anna Mae Aquash, who was murdered--the FBI tried to have her illegally buried under an assumed name, then just as Jane Doe, and because she had distinctive jewelry on her hands that couldn't be removed due to post-mortem swelling, they CUT OFF HER HANDS...sent them off allegedly for 'fingerprinting', and what do you know? They got lost. The book by Peter Mathiessen, "In the Spirit Of Crazy Horse" was kept from publishment for 8 years by the government who did not want the story out. Some of my fave lines? Cooch's "ARM is on it's last legs, Ray..." And Crowhorse's reaction to Ray's threat about withholding information, "So sue (Sioux) me..." And the scenery is so stark and beautiful. I cry every time I watch it. Fast action shoot-em-ups despite a yard full of kids? It happened. That's not Hollywood. The FBI was shooting up an 'encampment' full of women and kids at Oglala. They don't care. The only good Indian is a dead Indian. It's been this way for 500 years, and it continues today.

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