Southern Comfort (1981)


A weekend of training exercises turns into a frantic fight for survival when a group of National Guardsmen anger the local Cajun’s in the swamps of Louisiana. They are led out by Poole (Peter Coyote) who is taking them down to the swamps for some serious Army exercises, getting them ready should they ever be needed. Things go awry however when they steal some canoes to help them get down the river. Whilst inside the canoes, one of the men thinks it funny to shoot blank bullets at some Cajun fishermen, not realising the dreadful events they have set in motion.


With no live ammunition to aid them, then group of men find themselves fighting for their lives. Hunted by the locals in a terrain they have no knowledge of, the men are picked off one at a time and must learn to work together if they have any hope of coming out alive. However some of the men let fear and panic take over, making it harder for them to work as a group.


Two of the men Spencer (Keith Carradine) and Hardin (Powers Boothe) seem to bet the only two guardsmen who realise the magnitude of the situation the men find themselves in. This film was viewed as an allegory on Vietnam on it’s release. Directed by the brilliant Walter Hill (The Warriors), it showed that the same lack of respect the Americans showed the Vietnamese, is the same thing that will get these National Guardsmen killed if they don’t treat the Cajun’s with respect.


This is a riveting piece of cinema. I remember first watching it with my Dad and just loving it. It was nail bitingly tense and the cast were amazing. There are a lot of recognisable faces in the supporting cast and it’s fun spotting who’s who. This is well worth a watch.




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