6.9/10
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111 user 109 critic

Buffalo Soldiers (2001)

A criminal subculture operates among U.S. soldiers stationed in West Germany just before the fall of the Berlin wall.

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(book), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Mrs. Berman
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Stoney (as Leon Robinson)
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Pfc. Brian Knoll
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General Lancaster
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Colonel Marshall
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Sergeant Saad (as Sheik Mahmud-Bey)
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Kirschfield
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Rothfuss (as Noah)
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Squash
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Storyline

1989. The Berlin Wall is about to fall, and the world is about to be made safe for the new world order. But outside of Stuttgart, West Germany, at Theodore Roosevelt Army Base, Specialist Ray Elwood of the 317th Supply Battalion is about to find his own cold war turn white hot. Elwood's a lovable rogue, a conscript who's managed to turn his military servitude into a blossoming network of black market deals, more out of boredom than ambition. Officially, there's his day job as battalion secretary to the inept but caring Commander Wallace Berman. On the side, there's everything from selling the locals stolen Mop'N'Glo to cooking heroin for the base's ruthless head of Military Police, Sgt. Saad. When a new top sergeant arrives, with the avowed intention of cleaning the base up, Elwood thinks the new blood is nothing he can't handle, especially after he lays eyes on the top's daughter, rebellious Robyn. But that was before he figured in the $5 million in stolen arms that just landed on ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Steal all that you can steal. A story so outrageous you couldn't make it up See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, drug content, strong language and some sexuality | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

31 October 2002 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Acemi askerler  »

Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£113,664 (UK) (18 July 2003)

Gross:

$353,743 (USA) (26 September 2003)
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(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Colonel Berman talks about one of his ancestors being the Civil War General John Bell Hood, "affectionately known as the Iron Boar". While Hood did exist, it's not stated anywhere else that his nickname was the Iron Boar, so the screenwriters probably made it up. In the novel it was Francis "the Swamp Fox" Marion, but Gregor Jordan found out from Heath Ledger that the main character of The Patriot (2000) (which was being made at the time) was based on Marion. Jordan thought that if The Patriot became as successful as Braveheart (1995) that suddenly everyone would know about Marion and it would spoil the joke, that Berman's military ancestor is not very well known. So Jordan researched other American generals, and used Hood instead. See more »

Goofs

The license plate of Elwood's Mercedes and the other civil cars in the camp are German license plates. But before 2000 the license plates of the US Army were different. Their size and shape were been identical to original US license plates. Numbers and letters were only relevant for administration. Between the pair of letters and the three-digit number the letters "USA" were placed. See more »

Quotes

Ray Elwood: Say, do you ever have falling dreams?
Robyn Lee: Sure, I think so.
Ray Elwood: I have the same dream all the time where its really high and I'm kind of floating and then I fall. Is that the same as yours?
Robyn Lee: Kind of.
Ray Elwood: Well, why? What happens in yours?
Robyn Lee: I wake up before I hit the ground.
Ray Elwood: I always hit. I don't wake up.
Robyn Lee: That's not normal.
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Crazy Credits

The end credits include the citation: 'The red cross emblem is an international symbol of neutral protection during armed conflicts, and its use is restricted by law. The purposes for which the red cross emblem is used by the characters in this film are clearly improper. The filmmakers wish to stress their support for proper use of the emblem, which has saved millions of lives throughout the world'. See more »

Connections

Featured in Anatomy of a Scene: Buffalo Soldiers (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Held Down
Written by Trugoy The Dove (as David Jolicoeur), Vincent Mason, Kelvin Mercer, Serge Gainsbourg (as Serge Gainsborough) and Jean-Claude Vannier
Published by Daisy Age Music/T-Girl Music L.L.C. (BMI) and Warner/Chappell Music Limited
Contains interpolations from the composition "Ah! Melody"
Written by Serge Gainsbourg (as Serge Gainsborough) and Jean-Claude Vannier
Published by Warner/Chappell Music Limited on behalf of Warner/Chappell Music France S.A. and Melody Nelson Publishing
Performed by De La Soul featuring CeeLo Green
Produced by Pos
(p) 2001 Tommy Boy Music Limited
Licensed courtesy of Tommy Boy Music (UK) Limited
Taken from the De La Soul album "Art Official Intelligence: Bionix"
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User Reviews

 
Bilko for the New Millennium
1 May 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Without an enemy to fight, an army will fight itself or find its own enemies. In the tradition of "Sergeant Bilko" (the Phil Silvers TV show, not Steve Martin's ghastly remake) "Buffalo Soldiers" shows what happens when soldiers with nothing to do but wait for war begin to think for themselves and exploit the system.

In place of Bilko's poker games and lottery scams, Ray Elwood opts for black marketeering, drug dealing and gun running. However, the characters portrayed by Phil Silvers and Joaquin Phoenix respectively do have a lot in common.

The tone of "Buffalo Soldiers" is much darker than that of "Sergeant Bilko", but the film and TV series share the same absurd yet plausible vision. There are no chimpanzee conscripts like Private Harry Speakup in this movie, but there ARE characters who have clearly risen well above the level of their own incompetence. Ed Harris' Colonel Berman is a pathetic example of the uniformed, time-served bureaucrat, someone you could almost feel sorry for until you realise that one day he may have to lead men into combat.

Counterbalancing the Bilko-esquire vibe created by Elwood's wheeler-dealing is his nemesis, Scott Glenn's steely Sergeant Lee. Glenn clearly relishes his role in this movie and is very convincing as the model soldier with a true heart of darkness.

Joaquin Phoenix gives Elwood an understated charisma as he leads his troops from behind, rarely lifting the lid on the fear and frustration that simmers within him as the events he sets in motion go out of control.

To say that this film is anti-military is unfair as it contains portrayals of decent, honest and professional soldiers as well as the scammers, pimps and dopeheads that the plot focuses on. It is a film about human beings (with all their failings) in uniform, not soldiers. "Buffalo Soldiers" is anti-complacency, anti-indoctrination and anti-corruption, which is probably why its release was postponed after the September 11th terrorist outrage of 2001. In the light of recent despicable acts by a small group of US soldiers in Iraq's Abu Graib prison, this film seems eerily prescient. Without an enemy to fight in open combat, what happens to the aggression and contempt for that enemy that military training fosters?

Ignore the negative comments and give this under-rated film a chance. It was titled "Army Go Home" in Germany, where the film is set, echoing the feelings of German citizens who lived near foreign troops sent to defend them against Communism. The Beetle-crushing sequence (an absurdly comic high point of the film) is based on actual incidents involving bored, intoxicated British and American troops on manoeuvres, armed to the teeth and waiting for a war that never came.


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