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Tigerland
cast: Colin Farrell, Matthew Davis, Shea Whigham, Clifton Collins Jr, and Russell Richardson

director: Joel Schumacher

96 minutes (18) 2000
widescreen ratio: 1.85:1
20th Century Fox DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
Louisiana, the early 1970s - a group of conscripts face their final test: extended combat exercises in a stretch of swampland known as 'Tigerland', the most dangerous place outside of Vietnam. Laconic rebel Boz, who's spent most of his training period in the brig, threatens their already shaky discipline. When an officer hits on the idea of placing him in charge of the platoon, Boz finds himself in a position to make real changes - but is he prepared for the life-changing effect he'll have on those under his command? And with the psychotic demoted platoon leader out for revenge, is he likely to survive Tigerland?
   After the Batman And Robin fiasco, Joel Schumacher has gone back to basics - low budget, handheld camerawork with minimal trickery. It's a decision that's paid off handsomely. Tigerland is an absorbing film that avoids most Vietnam movie clichés by concentrating on its hero's dilemma - what price will you pay to change the system?
   Irish actor Colin Farrell gives a sterling performance as Boz; a satirist who's suddenly catapulted into the position of anti-establishment hero, and finds he has to engage with men he's used to mocking from a distance. Suddenly his actions have wider consequences, his rebellion is affecting other recruits' lives - and maybe setting them up to get killed - but the only alternative seems to be to buy into the cult of the warrior-hero. It's a subtle depiction of subtle issues, and the muddy, chaotic realism of the battle scenes contrasts nicely with the shaky machismo of barracks life and the bliss of drug and alcohol-addled weekend leave.
   Less about Vietnam, more about how life conspires to make some men heroes whether they want it or not, this is a powerful, surprising film that should make a star of Farrell, and shows us a whole new Schumacher. Long may it continue!
   DVD extras include: director's commentary, four-part Colin Farrell screen test, making-of behind featurette (five minutes), original trailer and TV spots, Dolby digital 5.1 sound in English or French options, 14-language subtitles, scene index in 15 chapters.
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