Picks and Pans Review: Buffalo Soldiers
updated 12/08/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 12/08/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST
This is a western that begins with African-American soldiers riding to the rescue of Native American women and children threatened with lynching by Texas Rangers. Hardly the stuff of old John Wayne movies. Inspired by the history of an all-black corps of cavalrymen (dubbed buffalo soldiers by their native adversaries), the largely fictional drama is not bold enough to eschew clichés entirely. "Any man talks mutiny, I'll rip him apart with my bare hands," warns Danny Glover as a sergeant leading his men in the perilous pursuit of a legendary Apache warrior through the New Mexico Territory in 1880. The Duke couldn't have talked any tougher—but he seldom faced a situation quite this complex. Prodded by a half-Seminole, half-black scout (Carl Lumbly), Glover must wonder whether his soldiers have more in common with the enemy than with their white superiors in the segregated Army. His crisis of conscience reaches a compelling climax that pits the demands of duty against the cries of humanity. The impact of the ending, coupled with the power of Glover's performance, makes this violent film worthwhile.