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Thunderheart (1992)

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



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 <esutton@mindspring.com>

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?


Michael Apted offered Marlon Brando the role of Frank "Cooch" Coutelle. See more »


The Wounded Knee memorial stone shown in the movie is a replica of the original, on which the 19th name was changed from "Swift Bird" to "Thunderheart". However, the 11th name was misspelled, on the original monument is "Yellow Robe" while on the replica is "Yellow Rose". See more »


Ray Levoi: [Rhetorically, looking at the poverty of the reservation] Where the hell did they send us?
Frank Coutelle: A long way from home, Ray.
See more »


Referenced in The Killing: Keylela (2012) See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Truly a must see
10 January 2004 | by See all my reviews

I would like to start out by saying that this is one of my favorite films. I thought Val Kilmer was amazing as Ray Lavoy. This movie is based on some real life events; however, not everything in this movie is a real life event, due to lawsuits. Graham Greene also had an outstanding role in this movie. I must say that this movie is a must see, also this movie shows you what things one should not take for granted. If you liked this movie, check out Skinwalkers.

22 of 32 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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