Tigerland (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Two thumbs WAY up from the Siskel and Ebert of smut. We both loved it. Scoop's comments in yellow, Tuna's in white. 

Scoop's comments:

Quick, name your favorite Joel Schumacher movie. It's so hard to choose between 8MM, Batman and Robin, and DC Cab.

I'm here to tell you that has changed. After a lifetime of mediocrity or worse, during which his top film was probably the barely average "A Time to Kill", and his worst films are abysmal, Schumacher, at age 61, went and got religion. He adopted some of the Dogme principles and made his ownself a great movie. With no budget. 

80% positive reviews and a 7.5 at IMDb! Of course, nobody has seen the damned thing, but the people who have seen it have loved it. Me, too.

Read the member reviews at  IMDb.


There is a scene in a motel where Colin Farrell and Matthew Davis have sex with two women, Arian Ash and Haven Gaston. This is quite a spirited sex scene with substantial nudity.

There's also a background stripper in one scene.

Here's the Recipe: One Flew Over the Platoon. 

Imagine if Randall McMurphy had dropped in to basic instead of the nuthatch. That's the movie. Private Bozz doesn't care how many times the sergeant kicks his ass, because what's the worst the Sarge can do? No matter what it is - even life in the stockade - it's still better than going to Vietnam. So if the Sarge kicks his butt, he gets up and makes fun of him, gets whupped again, and keeps doing it until the Sarge has better things to do. He can go to the stockade. He can get a psychiatric discharge. He can go to the infirmary. He can be in a world of pain. But none of those things are as bad as dying in 'Nam, and he knows it.

I know what some of you are thinking. "Why do I want to see another movie about going to basic training before getting shipped out to Vietnam? That topic is tired, and the ground has already been trod by some of the finest filmmakers of the past 30 years". I know, I thought the same thing. I also thought that I don't really want to watch a soldier movie, especially one directed by the guy that did Batman and Robin. Then I read that the movie was filmed with a zero budget, hand-held 16mm cameras in natural light, and shot in 28 days with unknowns, and I wanted to see it even less. Then, when I saw that it was shown on a whopping five screens, and was seen by fewer than 20,000 people, well, you can imagine what I thought.

Got the picture? I didn't like anything I read about this movie, and I only rented the sumbitch because it said "intense sexuality" on the box.

Know what? I watched every damned minute of it, and when I finish writing this, I'm going to watch some scenes again. I was especially astounded by the performance of Colin Farrell as Bozz. He's an Irish stage actor, and he transforms himself into the perfect independent-minded Texas boy. This fella may have a hell of a future.

I guess there is a lesson that I've learned from this experience. 

If you have a realistic script with great characters and great performers, and the director lets the story unfold, and lets the actors act, you don't need a lot more. Schumacher was smart enough to know a great script when he saw one. Ross Klaven had never written a screenplay before, but he had this great yarn about a charismatic slacker named Bozz, who was based on a real character that he himself met in Basic, a guy who essentially saved his life. 

Tigerland itself refers to a Vietnam simulation that the army built in the USA, somewhere in the Bayou, where some exercises used live ammo, and which provided a gritty and photogenic setting for the film's closing chapter.

Well done, Mr Schumacher. Well done indeed.

Tuna's comments

Tigerland (2000). I bought this based on Scoop's review. Scoopy is right, and may not have gone far enough. Schumacher became tired of doing the same old summer blockbuster Hollywood formula films, and fell in love with the recent minimalist work by Lars van Trier. This script was his perfect chance to attempt that style. He and his DP elected to use hand-held 16mm for several reasons. The camera could be more intimate with the action, as it was smaller and easier to handle, the grainy effect made everything seem more real, and the look was much like 1971 newsreel footage. He assembled a cast of unknowns, then put them through a grueling 28 days where they lived in terrible conditions, did their own stunts, including fistfights that often left them bruised. They faced long shooting schedules, scorpions falling out of trees, snakes, leaches, etc. There is minimal music, and what there is is inspired by the films of Kurosawa.

This is the single best Vietnam film I have seen. The reason is that it is the most honest. Given the directorial style, we have characters, and what happens to them, and no effects, rousing scores or psychedelic lighting to get in the way of the story. For those of you who were not of draft age in the late 60's and early 70s, the film will not be as personal. Tigerland was the last week of infantry training before you went to the front in Vietnam. You were mostly surrounded by other 18 year olds who didn't want to be there. Most of them were poor, under-educated, and many were minorities. Racial tension was still high, especially as the races had to eat, sleep and work together.

By 1971, the army had figured out every scam there was to get out of going to Vietnam, and was impossible to get over on. They knew that the worst thing they could do to Boz was to send him to Vietnam, and that was what they were determined to do. Boz knew that anything else they could do to him was better than dying in Nam. Unfortunately for Boz, he was a natural born leader, and actually did feel like he was "his brother's keeper." He began to help other recruits, and, in one of the few good decisions made by the Army in this film, he was made platoon leader.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • Full-length director commentary

  • Colin Farrell's screen test

Meanwhile, civilians were still in the post-pill pre-aids sexual revolution, and life was sex, drugs and Rock and Roll. Those who returned from a Nam tour found unemployment due to recession, and scorn from the average American for having served in this unpopular war. By '71, it was
clear we were losing the war, and were sending bodies to die as fast as we could train them. This film shows all of that, and develops the characters you would actually have found yourself among in 1971 Tigerland. 

Add this to the list of films from last year that I liked better than the Best Picture winner. The DVD has a Director's Commentary, which was not inspired, but was very informative. Schumacher gives his reasons for all of his decisions in the film treatment, and a real insight into the times and the performers.

The Critics Vote

  • Maltin 3/4.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.5, 
  • With their dollars ... it was never on more than 5 screens. Total gross was only $139,000.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B or better. If you like this kind of movie, you have to see this one. 

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