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Reviews & Ratings for
Thunderheart More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful movie that makes you think.

Author: Angi (hunkyguys85) from Wyoming
31 March 2001

Thunderheart is a great movie for those who want to see and understand the fight against prejudice and the difference between right and wrong. I found Thunderheart to be very interesting and easy to understand.

I felt that the movie was worth every minute of its nearly two hours. It could have been longer, and I wouldn't have minded a bit. Graham Greene's humor had me laughing out loud more than once, and just looking at both Greene and Val Kilmer gave me butterflies in my stomach.

I must admit that it dismayed me that Jack Ward was playing a Native American, a very important one at that. It was obvious that they had to use LOTS of makeup to get him that dark. Maybe that's why he wore a black felt hat in the middle of summer. But besides the imperfections concerning that particular casting, this movie was great. This sixteen year old applauds Kilmer and Greene.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Excellent realization of an fact-based story

Author: Holger Burghardt from Dijon, France, Europe
28 February 1999

Thunderheart is virtually just a mystery-thriller, yet set again the spiritual and historical background of the Sioux nation, it becomes a much more involving story. Acted with wit, intelligently written, and thoughtfully directed, it is a highlight in the careers of all involved.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:


Author: Richard van Schelven ( from Dublin, Ireland
5 February 1999

I have seen this movie many times. It is indeed based on a lot of facts happening in the 70ies. I hope this movie will inspire people to read about Leonard Peltier, Anna Mae Aquash and find out the truth about what happened and still is happening!

Chantema waste (Have a good heart)


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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

I WILL see this movie again in a few years.

Author: max-64 from California
10 October 1998

I have just now seen this movie for the second time, after 6 years, and I find it just as mystical, mysterious, and dream-like as I did originally. The cinematography and panoramic shots of the reservation, the rusting cars, the dilapidated "homes," and the natural beauty of the environment are powerful and exceptionally constructed.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

simply fascinating

Author: selig-1
22 March 2002

a fascinating movie; music and pictures create a dense atmosphere; good portrait of the conflict that Val Kilmer's character is in; ending somewhat in the open does not harm the movie because it fits the story

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Great movie.

Author: Mystical-3 from Los Angeles, CA
13 October 1999

The desolate beauty conveyed on the camera was so enticing, I wanted to go visit the badlands after watching this. I loved the subject and the focus on gov't corruption. The purity of that environment was wondrous. The whole cast was good, especially Sam Shepard. One of my top five fav. movies.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:


Author: allfunandgames ( from Auckland, New Zealand
25 January 2003

Thunderheart is a standard action/thriller, bolstered somewhat by the fact that it is based on fact. The plotting, acting and directing are all slightly above average, but the real highlight is Graham Greene, who is a constant enigma throughout the film. Also reccomended is the documentary Incident at Oglala, which covers the true events of which this film is based on.

Best Bit: The badger!

Worst Bit: That this thing actually happened! 7/10

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

really good

Author: Mickey Knox ( from Brasov, Romania
5 May 2001

Thunderheart is an enjoyable movie that i recommend to everyone. Although the story is pretty simple, you won't be disappointed by it. There are 3 great things about this film:

1. Val Kilmer. He is great, as he always is, and he shows us again that, although he can't be considered a "star", he is one of the most talented actors of his time.

2. The fact that the story, although it has some cliches, avoids some pathetic and predictable situations. Example? Unlike many movies of his kind, there is NO romance, no love story between Val and Maggie.

3. the view of the indian comunity. Well built, presenting everything, from the poor houses to the tradition.

There are of course bad points, but they can't overcome the satisfying feeling you have after watching this film.

My vote: 7.5 out of 10.

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Power Flows From The Elder...

Author: Predrag ( from Serbia
4 April 2017

A very under-rated film from way-back. This film continues to illustrate the historic, persecution of a part of America's native heritage, and sets a scene of greed and exploitation on an Indian reservation. In the film, influenced by events that took place in the seventies, Val Kilmer (Ray Levoi) convincingly plays the part of an FBI agent, whose part-Sioux background makes him the prime choice to investigate a death on this Indian reservation. Teamed up with an infamous, older agent, played by Sam Shepard, the investigation leads Kilmer to the realisation that the U.S. government has framed an innocent man. This movie was very well done and gave examples of how the Indian culture really is and Graham Green played a very important part in educating us. Greene is one of my favorite Native American Indian actors. He is from the Six Nations Reservation tribe in Canada.

The arid location, the Indian actors, and the haunting music of James Horner, easily takes hold of the imagination; transporting one back to the time when a culture viewed the inquisitive, intrepid explorers of old with suspicion. The intriguing Chief Ted Thin Elk, the reservation's religious leader, knows the secret of Levoi's (Kilmer) lost heritage. Wisdom emanates from this old Indian, but as the leader of a defeated people, he looks to Levoi, and sees in him the spirit of the historic 'Thunderheart'. During a touching sequence in the film, the Chief tells Levoi that he is their modern- day 'Thunderheart' and that he must make for the 'Stronghold' the historic Thunderheart was unable to reach. As the film draws to a close, Levoi finds the evidence he needs to expose the plot, despite Shepard's efforts in eliminating the witnesses. Pursued by Shepard and his henchmen, Levoi makes for the ancient, mountainous stronghold. There above him in the mountains, when all seems lost, he finds the support the old chief said would be there. This film is a must for those who can sense the legacy left to us by one of the world's deeply spiritual, nomadic nations.

Overall rating: 9 out of 10.

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A hidden movie gem

Author: gimili
10 December 2016

My review will consist of two parts. First, a review of the film. Second, my personal experience with American Indians. I am not American Indian. I am white.

Ray Lavoy is a part American Indian FBI agent assigned to work at the Bear Creek Indian Reservation in South Dakota to help diffuse tensions between "traditional" Indians and "pro-government" Indians. He works with another longtime legendary agent named Frank Coutelle. A murder of a tribal member who was a pro-government American Indian has turned the reservation into a hot zone of unrest. At first Lavoy works along government lines with Coutelle and follows protocol in trying to solve the murder. But along the way he begins to discover that not everything is what it seems, with the investigation, and with his American Indian ancestry. Throughout the investigation a local police chief named Walter Crow Horse(Graham Greene) tries to convince Lavoy that his murder investigation of a particular suspect is wrong and that he needs to rely on his American Indian roots to help him find the way.

What I admired most about this movie was the scenery and how the movie used a fictional murder investigation to portray and try to tell the story of the real life American Indian Movement of the 1970's. If you know anything about AIM(American Indian Movement), you will constantly find yourself thinking during this film, "That character is based on....from AIM." In the movie, the traditional group is called ARM(Aboriginal Rights Movement). In the movie the fictional Bear Creek reservation looks to me like Pine Ridge reservation in Pine Ridge, SD.

There were only two aspects of the film I did not enjoy. First was trying to understand the time frame, whether it was present day or sometime before. I got the impression the film was present day 1992, but because of all the history you start to think it is the 1970's. Second, the portrayal of FBI was a little over the top. Other than Ray Lavoy, the rest of the agents were portrayed as individuals who disrespect and mock American Indians and American Indian tradition. I imagine this was to help single out FBI agent Lavoy and how he struggles to understand American Indian culture.

I was at Pine Ridge in the early 2000's as part of a college group. I remember having some "wiculupi", a food that is referenced in the film. If it is the same food as I had it is essentially a rather sweet reddish type of buffalo soup/stew. I enjoyed it when I was there.

I remember the old cars sitting out in open areas along with the gravel and dirt roads. Our guide told us it was because the government did not give the reservation enough funds to pave the roads.

The one thing I remember most was the night our group settled into our tepees behind our guide's building. As part of our tour of Pine Ridge we got to stay in tepees and while the rest of our group was getting settled in for bed, I decided to take a walk around. A little ways away up on a hill I saw what looked like a basketball court fenced in. There was a large group of teenagers playing basketball. I went up and looked in through the fence. It felt so familiar watching these teenagers play basketball. One of the teenagers saw me staring in, came down by the fence, and asked if I wanted to play. I said yes and sat on the sideline admiring how well they played basketball. The girls seemed to play as well as the boys. I never played because I was not invited to join in and I was not really even supposed to be inside the fenced in court since I did not tell anyone where I went.

At the end of that game, I decided to leave. Before I left I noticed one of the teenagers went over to the fence and looked down at the tepees with the smoke coming out of them. He shook his head. Then he turned to the rest of the players and said, "More tourists. Don't these people realize we don't live in tepees anymore." The group laughed a little and so did I because only one person knew I had been invited in and even he did not know where I came from. Then I faded away from the group once they started the next game to go back to being a tourist. I got back and said nothing to the group and never did. The lesson I came away with is that most American Indians just want to be thought of and treated the same as you or me.

Pine Ridge felt very spiritual in the sense the land felt so quiet and different from where I came from. The movie does an excellent job of portraying this spiritual connection to the land. Our group was only there for two days, one night, but I still remember that experience all these years later.

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