In September 1971, a platoon of recruits arrives in Ft. Polk, LA, for infantry training before leaving for war. The final week takes place in Tigerland, a swamp similar to Vietnam. Jim Paxton has enlisted; he wants to experience everything and write books later. He befriends Roland Bozz, a cool Texan with a gift for getting into trouble and for helping misfits get discharges. At least one sociopath in the platoon hates Bozz, even as the sergeants grudgingly recognize his leadership abilities. As the platoon heads into its week in Tigerland, Paxton's body gives out, Bozz makes plans to go AWOL, and the sociopath gets hold of live ammo. Is the Louisiana swamp more dangerous than the DMZ? Written by
TIGERLAND (2000) ***1/2 Colin Farrell, Matthew Davis, Clifton Collins, Jr., Thomas Guiry, Shea Whigham, Russell Richardson, Nick Searcy, Afemo Omilani, James McDonald, Keith Ewell, Arian Ash, Haven Gaston, Cole Hauser. Filmmaker Joel Schumacher makes an audacious attempt to rekindle his directing juices in this low-budget semi-independent film about Vietnam with a cast of unknowns that works remarkably well. Set circa 1971 Louisiana in a special Army training camp for new recruits prior to shipment in the ongoing war and told in flashback by one of the survivors the film centers its bare bones plot around the able shoulders of Irish newcomer Farrell in a potential star-making turn as Private Roland Bozz (think 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' in fatigues and you get the overall impression), a feckless troublemaker of his platoon whose antics have a method to his madness: keeping yourself alive despite the odds. Raw and uncompromising are best suited to describe the film's gist and in particular its focus of Bozz leading his comrades in arms through their hellish grunt duty prior to their fated dooms. Original and smartly written by Ross Klaven and Michael McGruther giving their characters a fresh spin on an all too familiar genre with humanity at its core.
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