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  • War Party (1988) was a film about the racial tensions that exist between the local Native Americans and their white neighbors. An annual re-enactment commemorating a vicious slaughter of Indians at the hands of the U.S. Calvary ignites a powder keg of racial anger that has been brewing amongst the youngsters. During the mock battle, two Indian youths (Billy Wirth and Kevin Dillion) defend themselves from a loud mouth yokel (Kevyn Major Howard) who decides to bring live ammunition to the show. Will the powder keg explode? Who will fall victim to this ignorance? Can the two races still co-exist after this tragedy?

    A very underrated film. What I liked about it was that it dealt with an issue that still exist in this country. Even though it's not in the open, racial tensions between the whites and Indians will always be there. It'll take education and acceptance to do away with it. But many people are still ignorant to the fact. I wish this movie was available on D.V.D. I saw it most recently on satellite t.v. A very underrated movie that's still searching for an audience.

    Recommended.
  • prairiem30 January 2004
    Probably I've watched this movie half-a-dozen times, once with a white theatre audience close to the rez and the rest on tape with Blackfeet high school students. The student attitude was summed up by a handsome young man who sighed and remarked, "The first time you see it, it seems pretty good, but after about the third time, it just falls apart." The theatre audience just didn't like it, period.

    It was fun to see friends and neighbors in a movie. Locals grew fond of the actors while they were in town. But the whole line of argument that drove the plot meant nothing to the people it was supposed to be about. Sure, there's racism -- but it comes to us as job discrimination or court systems or broken families or drug peddlers. Renegade kids are not romantically pursued over the landscape by caricature bad guys. (What the heck was the idea of Rodney Grant's character, anyway?) They just get picked up speeding or something -- by officers who are Indian -- and end up quietly taken to jail.

    I hated the faux samurai ending, romanticizing death in a place where suicide is a problem. Plainly this was a movie written by people who didn't want to know anything about reality and didn't care what impact their movie had on the people to whom they were supposed to be sympathetic. It's a projection of themselves, a continuing problem for Native American films and one that has mostly been solved so far by Indians making their own movies.
  • Long and forgotten, this movie depiction of young Native-America is indeed a heart twister and adds fire to the burning soul. I was fortunate enough to see this film the year it was released, and was blown away with the story concept. I believe with the exception of "Kevin Dillon" (who by the way is an incredible actor), really wasn't convincing enough to play even a half-breed in this particular film.

    Strongly enough, however he does manage to pull it off, even though he wasn't my first choice for this film, I have viewed his performances in other astounding movies such as "Platoon" and the sort, where his personal character finds more of it's true calling. Just not this film. Overall however it is a powerful cut and slowly sucks you in, with a surprise bar fight confrontation that later turns out to be more then was expected, of course leading into the courageous plot of the film. Where you just want to see the Indian's win, just this once. But do they? Well you'll just have to hunt this bad boy down to find out.

    But "Good Luck" trying to find this flick especially on DVD it's a tough one. Especially since it blew over so many peoples heads, the first time around. As for me...I still can see the vivid storyline as it echoes through the spotlights of my mind, even several years later. Great story! But quite underrated! A film you'll never forget. If you ever get the chance, See it!
  • Pretty well-written and well-directed. The plot has holes, and there are the stereo-typical Caucasian jerks one expects to find in a story involving racial tension between two cultures. However, despite its failings, this film has a refreshing quality to it. The dialog is far more natural than one usually finds, and the characters mostly behave the way people really behave... mostly. Predictable? Yes, but I've seen far worse.
  • I remember when I was about 13 years old this movie was filmed in my hometown and on my reservation. I was very anxious to watch it and eagerly looked at the places I lived near all my young life as they appeared onscreen.

    Being an enrolled Blackfeet Indian it is easy for me to get caught up in the whole nature of this film, because, after all, this is a film about Blackfeet indians. I choose to look at it in a different way though. The plot is far fetched to say the least and the movie is quite silly all together. I enjoyed watching it, but it's not an altogether good film. It really doesn't make any profound statement or stir up any topic of discussion. If this was a movie that was intended to take an in depth look at indians and then provoke some sort of emotion, well then, it failed completely at that direction.

    I choose to believe that War Party was made to be entertaining and not thought provoking though. A sort of "what if this really did happen" type of movie that gives the watcher a chance to see a wild happenstance that wouldn't occur in todays society. An interesting film if you are a film struck young man who has grown up in the area where it was shot, but not much more than a boring night in front of your tv and VCR if you are anybody else in this world. The most significant accomplishment this movie has done is it helped launch the career of Billy Worth who is now foraying from acting and becoming a director to reckon with in the near future.
  • Beautiful scenery, this movie depicts how innocent events can get out of hand. I loved its depiction of modern Indian tribe life and the conflicts it presents with keeping up old traditions while living in a modern world.

    I used to own this movie and loaned it to my sister and she can't find it. I would love to be able find another one and would love it even more if this movie were brought out on DVD.
  • This film will probably remind people of a indian rosewood. But this storyline isn't so accurate,the action scenes are like a circus especially the carnival fight(It reminded me of a soprano episode last week)When do modern day police use double barreld shotguns and old fashion 45 peacemakers, not to mention the level action rifles I thought it was supposed to take place in the 80's. Somehow it appears that the national guard soilders at the end of the movie think there in Vietnam,they play volleyball while camping out in the badlands waiting to capture the two young indian suspects.Released in '89 this was probably the beginning of the politically correct era in movies. It came out a year and a half before Dances with Wolves,and the indians are no longer the bad guys.The movie on the other hand will entertain you with comic book action and will also so get you mad seeing the unjustice & racsim that the indians are going through.
  • "War Party" gets your attention immediately with a Montana battle from years gone by. Suddenly time shifts forward to present day, and introduces the modern combatant cowboys and Indians. Things rapidly spiral out of control after a confrontation in a local bar. When real bullets turn a reenactment celebration into a murder, a prolonged pursuit of three Indians begins. This leads to escalating tensions involving a tenacious tracker, M. Emit Walsh, and eventually calling in the National Guard. Trapped in a blind canyon, the conclusion is anything but typical, as the Indians reach back into their past for answers. Surrender or fight? "War Party" gets high praise for being highly original, and exciting. - MERK
  • This is a "not to miss" movie and is one of Billy Wirth's finest performances. His portrayal of Sonny Crowkiller is incomparable and though the story ending is disturbing, "War Party" has become one of our family's favorite movies. Other actors who deserve recognition are Dennis Banks, Kevin Dillon & the unforgettable Tantoo Cardinal.
  • Yeah - I guess, I'm a typical guy, because I like mindless entertainment. Package it with decent acting, at least passable scripting, and good production values and I'll watch it.

    This is a silly movie...A reinactment of a battle of settlers vs. Indians goes awry and people really start getting shot..... You can hear the people in the studios getting excited over this one as they dug deep for the money to finance it.

    But really it's not THAT bad. You've got Matt Dillon's little brother (who I really like more, because he's more interesting) and you've got Billy Wirth (who, when this movie was made had appeared in The Lost Boys and nothing more). They can act though. The sets are good - (and let's face it - I love a western - even an implausible one) and the action is exciting, albeit stupid.

    Okay, so the movie's no good - but it's a good kind of no good. It beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
  • I remember going to the video store in '89 or so and seeing the poster for War Party on the wall. It depicted a group of young Native American braves holding their tomahawks high as flaming wreckage burned in the background. I could only assume it was an action movie about a modern Native American rebellion of sorts. It wasn't until 20 years later that I saw the film On Demand.

    War Party does become a neo-Western in some ways, but it is not a slam-bang action flick. It is actually a very raw and thought provoking tragedy that sheds light on life in a native reservation and the conditions and attitudes indigenous people have faced and continue to face.

    The film opens with the aftermath of a battle in Montana between the Union cavalry and a war party of Blackfoot warriors. In a very skillful use of allegorical transition, three of the natives' stallions ride away from the cavalry and into present day. Sonny Crowkiller(Billy Wirth, "The Lost Boys")is a descendant of the chief who led the charge in that battle. He's a teenager in love who, like many in his community, is caught between two worlds and is unsure of his future. The native and white communities have agreed to put on a recreation of the historical Battle of Milk River, and the racial tension between the two groups is so thick you can cut it with a knife. In particular, there's Calvin(Kevyn Major Howard, "Full Metal Jacket"), a hateful redneck who has beef with a friend of Sonny's.

    On the day of the re-enactment, Calvin brings live ammunition and spitefully murders Sonny's friend, which prompts Sonny to cut him down with a tomahawk. Soon the battle becomes a REAL battle, and Sonny and his mixed-ancestry friend Skitty(Kevin Dillon "Entourage") and Warren(Tim Sampson) are on the run from racist vigilantes, clueless law enforcement, a Crow tracker and even the National Guard.

    It is at this point where War Party feels like a familiar throwback to "on the lam" themed Westerns, but with a different modern context and subtext. Sonny and his friends aren't looking to kick paleface ass, they're just kids trying to escape and live free and who only take up arms to defend themselves. Meanwhile, their families and the community at large struggle to make sense of the terrible misunderstanding. The film's depiction of the native community was one not often seen in Hollywood, and is sobering to say the least.

    The problems that beset War Party is that it often struggles to make sense of what type of film it truly wants to be. A protest film? An adventure film? It could have been all of these things if the writers had honed their end product down to a finer edge. While some of the acting and dialog is very good, some people are miscast. Kevin Dillon is a great actor, but I simply couldn't accept him as a partial Blackfoot. When he's dressed in war paint and full Blackfoot garb, he looks like a Celtic warrior off to fight the Romans instead of the US cavalry. His heavy East Coast accent didn't help either. There is also Tim Sampson, the son of noted Native American actor Will Sampson. Supposedly, he's the third member of this band of brothers, but his character is barely fleshed out. We don't really know much about him, so its hard to connect with him.

    Two years after this film was made, Canada experienced a tense confrontation between the Canadian military and Mohawks in Quebec in what became known as the Oka Crisis. Looking back, its interesting to see how War Party fits in both the cinematic depictions of indigenous peoples of North America and the consciousness of both native and non-native peoples in the greater public. While Dances With Wolves might get the lion's share of attention, I think War Party was willing to go where few would dare.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is about the last of the "Sanctimonious Era" movies, roughly from 1965-1985, so this one was three years "behind its time".

    It's another story of how Native Americans are all "Kal-El", and white men are all whiny wimps. Here, it's as blatant and goofy as it gets.

    It also gives the wrong impression of the times. The story is about three Native Americans who become fugitives for a crime committed by a white man.

    The trouble with an "underdog fugitive" story is that you can't make a popular, beloved one and still be credible. To be an "underdog fugitive", you have to go against the grain. You have to be against popular prejudices.

    I was born in 1956. I have some Native American in my blood. At no time in my life has that ever cause hatred against me. I have, however, had discrimination against me for European blood.

    That's the true story of the seventies and eighties. The true story is that movies like this were made. Reverse the roles, and see how much "hatred" is in this movie.

    Fortunately, the era ended. People began to realize that these were "hate movies". This was the social more certainly from 1970-1985. If you were a fair haired, fair skinned male, it didn't matter if you were 1/8 Iroquois, you were looked upon as the white men in this movie, as complete "anathema", a total "outcast", with zero value, regardless of what you did. That's the true story here.

    Not that the movie is all bad. I rated it 3/10, which puts it ahead of about 20% of the movies I rate.

    While the white men are all caricatures, the Native American characters are well written and two or three dimensional, depending on your point of view. There are a few good bits of action-dialog, such as when the deputy is tied up, and still on friendly terms with the Native Americans.

    The ending was ridiculous. At the risk of spoiling it, we'll just say that two Native Americans ride horses and charge the U.S. Military. 100 people out of 100 would expect the major to just shoot the horses, or use smoke grenades, but this movie had to go to "Sanctimonious Era" extremes.
  • charmkat8 January 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    J-Thomas2 from Atlanta is entitled to his opinion but clearly he missed the opportunity to realise the in-depth racial message behind this very powerful and thought evoking movie. I have a number of Native American friends who felt that the message was very strongly delivered, and who could themselves relate to the racial tensions between White men and Native Americans as depicted in this film. The Native American actors provide excellent realism, although the film could well do without Matt Dillon playing a Native American as this is unconvincing. While the background of the re-enactment battle provides somewhat of a cliché storyline, the vicious racial tensions that are the result are portrayed with frightening realism. The story builds to a stunning climax and the final frames of this movie are as shocking as the message they portray.
  • epevae3 September 2002
    The carefree, though troubled life of the young warriors suddenly turns into a historic chase brought upon their response to history´s call (steeling the tomahawk).

    The bravery of the young men is heroic, as is their resolve to follow the path they have chosen to the bitter end, although in part inflicted on them.

    The closed circle regarding a white man picking up the tomahawk from a dead warrior at the beginning and its repetition at the end confirms the saying: history always repeats itself.

    An excellent film with great actors.
  • I was talking to one of my co-workers whose name is Brandon Garrow, Sr. (he said it was okay to use his name, for credit purposes... :) )! We were discussing that we need more Native American Indian movies. My idea was to come up with "Napi Stories" since we already have movies like the Hobbit Series, like: The Ring, The Twin Towers, etc., plus we have the Harry Potter series, etc. So-o-o, why not some movies based on our myths, legends, stories, etc. (get my drift!!)... plus, War Party was mentioned... Brandon said part two would be about the casino... the general manager would be the sheriff from the first movie, but he is a bad guy again. I brought up the idea that the offspring of the main characters would come back here and avenge their fathers... Brandon said maybe they could try to rob the casino... anyways, it is a story line with lots to add to and at least an idea! I guess we could turn this idea around and have something good come of all this, plus involve our Elders more with good advise, etc. !!!! Plus, another idea of my mother and mine: REDO: Stay Away Joe!!!!!!!!!
  • In the 1988 version of "War Party" we see the classic struggle for justice and equal treatment that all our Native brothers face. The whole underlying theme to this film would be the issue of racism in and among our border towns. I liked the movie more when I was 12 years old than I do now understanding the reverse effect movies like this sometimes bring. I feel that it was a great film of its day. Billy Wirth had an outstanding performance as "Sonny". I would have liked to seen him play more parts in films such as this one. Bradley N.C.
  • The reason why I gave the film "War Party" a 7 out of 10 was because of how the Native Americans were portrayed. Although it was an all round good film, there would never be a major manhunt for the youngsters who flee a battle re-enactment after it turns violent. The point is the whole problem wouldn't have happened in the 1st place if whites in general were alot more understanding and compassionate of the Native ways (in this case the Blackfoot ways). Racism towards the Indians was the whole underlying theme to this film and the constant friction that existed in it. Its just something that hasn't changed in all these mega years. The unfortunate reality is that the only way that there will ever be any real peace and co-existence is if white society as a whole truly takes the time and willingness to educate themselves properly about Native Americans.

    But....... ANYWAYS......... thanks for allowing me to give my review on this film.... take care and I look forward to giving a new review on a different Native film. :D
  • Had never heard of this movie until I stumbled upon it on VHS in a movie rental store many years ago. From the first time I've watched it to the last time I've watched it, which has been some years ago and even knowing the plot, it still made me angry by the end of the movie. It has the ability to make people with an open mind stop and think of all the years of prejudice, stupidity and misunderstanding of the Native American, as well as how some people still discriminate against them to this day.

    It also made me ashamed to be classified as Caucasian, even though there are stories of Native American blood on my mothers side, that was never recorded in the family bible, because it was considered a disgrace on the family back then. I don't claim any tribe and just look at this movie with an open mind as a fellow human being. I've always felt that the Native Americans have been treated unfairly by this country's government and this movie ends with that message being delivered in such a way that any human being with any amount of compassion or empathy would be angry.