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Just getting this one filmed was a huge accomplishment.
TOMASBBloodhound28 October 2007
Friedkin claims this was the toughest film to make of his career, and it isn't hard to see why. The balance of this film takes place in some woe begotten Latin American country. You can just feel the poverty and desperation in the air as the only work is for an oil drilling firm who doesn't exactly seem bent on worker safety. The elements are intentionally brutal and they only add to the tension. And thats even before this story really gets going.

Early on, we are introduced to four characters who are all guilty of doing something terrible in one corner of the world or another. Roughly a half hour into the film, all four find themselves in a tiny impoverished Latin American village trying to eek out a living and forget the troubles they left behind. Not only is the local economy weak, but the place is socially on the verge of revolution. It's amazing the kind of jobs men will volunteer for to get out of these circumstances. Anyway, these four men are given the chance of transporting some highly explosive dynamite through rugged terrain in crappy old trucks so it can be used to put out a massive oil fire some 200 miles away. It is noted by one of the men that more than enough explosives are being transported. Obviously, at least one of the trucks is not expected to make it! Not only do you have an explosive cargo with unreliable trucks, but also there are armed rebels along the way who probably won't just let you pass right on through. Still, the reward for completing this job is just too much to pass on.

The film is very, very good. In fact the skill that it took to make the film is responsible for most of the stars I'm giving it. The story itself is often just not believable. The journey these four men take is ludicrously perilous. They drive their vehicles over rickety bridges that nobody in real life would have tried to get over in those trucks. Like in other Friedken films, no character is completely likable, but that only makes it tougher to figure out who will live and who will die. There are a few nice twists here and there, right up to the very end to keep you guessing. The acting is exceptional. Scheider was Friedkin's fourth or fifth choice for the main character. Steve McQueen originally wanted it badly, but he demanded a part included for then wife Ali McGraw. Friedkin balked at this and then later regretted the decision. He later stated that he never thought Scheider was a good enough leading man. This is an error, however. Scheider is a terrific actor and his performance here is outstanding.

The film bombed badly at the box office. Heck, if you weren't in line to see Star Wars that year, you were in line to see Smokey and the Bandit! This is definitely one of Friedkin's best, and it has somehow almost been completely forgotten. The film apparently got a PG rating but it is filled with violence and all manner of evil goings on. You'll have to suspend your disbelief for some of the scenes, but you'll be glad you did. I'll give it 8 of 10 stars.

The Hound.

Added Feb 14, 2008: RIP Roy Scheider!
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Lost Classic
DB-08-DB1 December 2002
Sorcerer is a unique, brutal, brilliant film burdened underneath a terrible, wholly unappropriate title. Watching this film, it is not only easy to see why the film was both a huge financial and commercial disaster, it is downright obvious. This is the most un-american/ hollywood/ commercial film backed by a major studio I have ever seen. It is a tough, gruelling 126 minutes that goes nowhere fast, yet holds you firm in its tight grip and beats you senseless throughout. I was exhausted when the film finally arrived at it's rather downbeat ending. The multi-national cast is faultless. Scheider is magnificent. This is an exceptionally demanding, difficult role and he hits it head on, creating an anti-hero who is very, very real: desperate, frightened and desructable. Taking this role, at the height of his fame, was either very brave or very stupid. I'm going with brave. His performance here is a million miles away from his work on Jaws and Jaws 2, yet equally compelling. The photography is in a league of it's own (I only wish the DVD came with an original 2:35:1 print, assuming there is one, as the current disc is presented in a 4:3 full frame), and the music from Tangerine Dream complements the vision perfectly. This is a brilliant piece of film making from the most daring decade of cinema, made by one of cinema's true unpredictable's. Tense, dazzling, dark and fresh, this is an underated film that deserves to be re-evaluated.
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An Underrated Classic
bluesman-2029 August 2009
The Story goes that when Sorcerer was released it was at a theatre where Star Wars was having an incredible Run selling out every night. When this movie was released there was lines around the block to see it and then in it's second week NOTHING! The movie died a horrible death at the box office and was alway relocated to the Heaven's Gate Orphanage for lost movies. Such a shame. Sorcerer is a mind blowing ride into desperation and horror. The Story is this four men who committed large crimes ranging from Fraud to armed robbery and outright terrorist attacks to cold blooded murder flee to a small south America country once there they struggle to survive. When an oil well explodes and the fire runs out of control the only option is dynamite to cap the well. But the dynamite is old and the nitro is leaking out making transport hard but not impossible. No one wants the job so they recruit 4 men our heroes in an manner of speaking take the job for a incredible amount of money They are given two trucks to repair and overhaul the trucks become main characters as well according to the movie novel they were abandoned army trucks left after WW2 and superstitious natives named them SORCERER and LAZLO . When the trucks are ready the journey itself proves to be the road to hell. one of the most famous scenes is where the Sorcerer truck is trying to cross the swing rope bridge during a harsh storm and the sorcerer almost does not make it that scene in it's entire sequence is a incredible feat of film making. Right to the end the suspense and the fear are kept up and Friedkin a master of this knows how to do this. The Story is excellent so is the acting all of whom should be more then proud to put this film on their resumes. Outstanding work by all.
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Friedkin's Swan Song before Sinking into Mediocrity
mylundon14 August 2004
A remake of Henri-George Cluzot's 1953 film The Wages of Fear (also on DVD in a lovely Criterion Disc), this William Friedkin film stars Roy Scheider (at his weary, doomed finest) as one of four men exiled to an unnamed South American country by their mistakes and crimes. Trapped in squalor (and it's damn convincing looking squalor, too, far beyond the sunbaked black-and-white compositions of Wages of Fear; this film looks like it's leaving mud on your shoes), unable to return to the lives they abandoned, they're driven by circumstance to accept a normally unthinkable job. They have to drive old, unstable dynamite from its storage site hundreds of miles over mountain terrain and washed-out roads to the location of an oil well fire so the blaze can be snuffed out. The pay is exorbitant -- but it's commiserate to the danger. The risks are colossal ... and they ultimately have no choice.

Sorcerer is tense, suspenseful film-making at its finest; you become physically uncomfortably during this film thanks to the incredible sense that at any minute our heroes would literally be blown to hell. (I mean, we all walk around with the philosophical knowledge we could die at any moment, but talk about your concrete metaphors ... ) Friedkin creates a palpable sense of place, and Scheider is immensely powerful as a man whose every move suggests that he knows he's doomed. Taut with suspense, completely convincing and breathtakingly human, Sorcerer is an unfairly maligned film that delivers in every way.

And the Score is unique and nightmarish. A new DVD would be welcome to many happy fans.
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The Essence of Film Storytelling
rrebenstorf8 December 2003
After _The French Connection_ and _The Exorcist_, William Friedkin made it three masterpieces in a row with this remake of the French classic _Wages of Fear_. As an exercise in pure cinematic storytelling, _Sorcerer_ may be the best film of the three Friedkin greats.

Structurally similar to the other two of his films, and working from a tough, bare-bones Walon Green script, Friedkin gives us all the back story we need in the first reel. Once the characters are brought together in the South American jungle, the film grabs you and doesn't let go until the final frame. The viewing experience is supremely visceral. You literally feel the tension as the four major characters and their two trucks loaded with nitro encounter and attempt to overcome the elements and some very rough terrain. Each scene is its own brilliant set piece. The film would work well as a silent movie, but the sound design and Tangerine Dream's musical score in themselves are among the film's towering achievements right along with the direction, cinematography and production design.

I'm perhaps the only one not put off by the film's allegedly inappropriate title. On the contrary, I think the title adds an element of mystery to the story -- as if trouble is being concocted by an unseen force acting upon the film's morally dubious main characters. It gives a demonic personality to the confluence of fate and dumb luck. The title also serves to give the film some added distance from the very fine Clouzot original.

The performances are all first-rate, if economic, and Roy Scheider stands out with some real tough-guy charisma. He also gets to wear the coolest hat this side of Gene Hackman's porkpie derby in _The French Connection_.
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pierrely050728 February 2004
Being a huge fan of Friedkin,i wanted to see "sorcerer" for a long time;after several months of researches,at last,i could on an old videotape and ,immediately,it emerged as one of the best movies i've ever seen.I must be one of the rare who don't consider it's title so inapropriate,even it's been chosen for obvious commercial reasons (the exorcist/the sorcerer).The sorcerer,it's this fate which gathers 4 men of 4 different countries together;they have nothing in common but will be obliged to collaborate for the same reason;it's too an evil nature which,a little bit like in "deliverance",seems to make everything it cans to make the mission fail.There's a subtext ,"man vs nature",which, from Friedkin's words,was wanted from the beginning,and that,to my mind, considerably enhances the film. The systematic comparisons between the 52's version and this one don't appear to me valuables;i prefer seeing it more as a second adaptation of Arnaud's novel than as a remake.In fact,it's much more close to "the treasure of the sierra madre": the painful irony of the ending and Scheider with his hat looks exactly like Bogart.According to me,even it's a good flick,the original version is very-too much?-faithful to the novel and so,quite easy to foresee (for instance,before the mission, one of the truck is sabotaged so we're sure it's gonna explode at a moment or another). One said,including Friedkin,it bombed the box-office because was no star like Steve mc Queen to attract the audience,but nothing is less sure;first of all,it's unfair for Roy Scheider who previously starred in "the french connection" and "jaws" and was quite famous and,then,it's above all a question of concept:the audience of 77 didn't want to see that kind of movie anymore,-pessimistic,ironic,with an all-male cast and unhappy ending,-and was rather ready to enjoy Lucas and Spielberg's movies. I could speak highly of its qualities for hours: cast and crew,the work on the sound,the Tangerine dream's score,the sequence of the bridge,the surreal atmosphere of the last scenes,but it's already been described in other comments;let's say it's a very special,precious and unforgettable film to me.Hoping now there will have in next months a beautiful dvd edition like those of "to live and die in L.A.",and a serious rehearsal.It deserves it.
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4 desperate men and two trucks called Sorcerer and Lazaro carrying a cargo of tempestuous explosives.
Spikeopath10 August 2012
Sorcerer is directed by William Friedkin and adapted to the screen by Waldo Green from Georges Arnaud's novel Le Salaire de la peur (The Wages of Fear). It stars Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Raba and Amidou. Music is scored by Tangerine Dream and cinematography by John M. Stephens and Dick Bush.

It bombed famously at the cinema, was a location shoot nightmare with rows aplenty between cast and director, and even recently a court case erupted over the film as Friedkin sued Paramount and Universal over ownership of the picture. A film with such a mystical sounding title, could it be cursed? All the shenanigans surrounding Sorcerer have sort of had it hovering around the "forgotten" bin, where were it not for the Friedkin purists and 1970s movie aficionados it would have dropped in and had the lid put on it. However, if ever a movie from 1977 deserved to be revisited and treated better on home formats, then Sorcerer is the one. Where in its complete two hour form plays out as a lesson in skilled story formation, letting us know how these guys came to be in the situation they find themselves in, which in turn gives way to utter suspense as desperate men fight nature's jungle whilst perched on the precipice of explosive doom.

There are a number of factors put forward on why Sorcerer failed at the box office. The title itself is a classic case of misdirection, the name given to one of the trucks in the story, it conjured up images of mystical and magical dalliances, it's safe to say that the film is a million miles away from that sort of genre. It also went up against the box office monster that was Star Wars, in comparison, and Friedkin readily admits this, it's dwarfed in production scope and cross demographic appeal. Then there is the matter of the "cut" version that did the rounds, where almost thirty minutes were chopped to allow more showings in theatres, without Friedkin's permission, the resulting film was a travesty of Friedkin's vision. Lead man Scheider, who is terrific, didn't want to promote the film, such was his anger at Friedkin cutting a subplot involving his character being shown in a sympathetic light. Have to say the director was right in keeping it grim.

Also there's the Clouzot's factor and his version of the Arnaud novel released in 1953. Much beloved by many a critic as some sort of sacred cow of French cinema, Clouzot's The Wages of Fear is a very good film, but hardly a masterpiece. Looking back at some of the reviews upon Sorcerer's release, it seems that some big critics of the day wanted to appear cool by lauding from the roof tops about a foreign movie and how it shouldn't be remade. Weird really since Sorcerer isn't a remake, it's an interpretation on Arnaud's source. Inspired by Clouzot? Undoubtedly, but it's not remaking his movie. They moaned about the good hour of build up, calling it slow, but I'm sure I remember it rightly that Clouzot's movie does the same thing, and that didn't have Friedkin's fluid camera and Tangerine Dream laying hypnotic synthesisers all over it.

Though the current Region 1 DVD of the film is full frame and grainy in print, the skill of the director, photographer and actors really comes to the fore. Film is often gritty and realistic and playing better now thematically than it did back in the 1970s. The locations are real and you are easily transported into the character's world, you feel the danger as nature and human bandits enter the fray; as if it wasn't bad enough with the case sensitive explosives in the back! There are risks at almost every turn, breath holding the order of the day, and the famous bridge scene is as good a sequence as 70s cinema has to offer (a logistic nightmare for Friedkin that required take after take to finish). All this only works because we have had the hour of build up previously. True, we may hanker for deeper character interaction as they traverse the perilous terrain, but this isn't about bonding, it's about men risking their lives for freedom and redemption. It beats a black heart and never once cops out. A truly great film crying out to be rediscovered by old and new film lovers alike. 8.5/10
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That bridge scene
dave-sturm21 February 2008
Try to clear your mind of the fact that "The Wages of Fear" exists as a previous French movie. I've seen it and its a great movie on its own merits. Would it be better if Sorcerer had not been made so that Wages would have its pristine place in the film pantheon. No, it would not.

I saw Sorcerer in a movie theater when it first came out (having seen and like Friedkin's two earlier films) and was knocked for a loop. I wonder how many of the reviewers here who disparage Sorcerer have only seen it on a TV screen.

Because, I gotta tell you, some parts of this movie seen on the widescreen are mind blowing. Getting that truck (which just about has a personality of its own) across that rope bridge during what looks like a hurricane has to be one of the most intense moments in cinema history. What they pull off in that scene looks patently impossible. And without a speck of CGI.

One of the great adventure movies.

The score by Tangerine Dream ("kings of the German synthesizer") is spellbinding. (For another great TD-drenched movie, see Michael Mann's Thief.) And it has one of the late Roy Scheider's greatest performances.
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Friedkin's 3rd best film
Jeremiad2229 August 2003
An underrated film with a typically stellar Roy Scheider performance, an eerie Tangerine Dream soundtrack, and brilliant visuals. This film's reputation suffers from its inexplicable title and unfavorable comparisons to the original. But it's useless to compare since this film is an altogether different beast. Friedkin gives it his usual nihilist/fatalist/existential stamp, making it a much darker film than the French version. Very suspenseful and well-made. Made by Friedkin at the height of his powers. His third best film after Exorcist and French Connection.
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Original Is Good, This Is Better
ccthemovieman-131 October 2005
Here's one exception to the general rule or opinion that re-makes are not as good as the originals. This is even better than the 1953 "The Wages Of Fear."

"Sorcerer" (a better title might have helped in the status of this film) is divided into three segments. The first part deals with the various criminal acts committed by the four principal characters in their particular part of the world.

The second part shows the seedy life these criminals must now endure in a poor South American town after they are forced to flee their respective countries.

The third segment is the major part of the story. An oil well fire rages out of control and these men are selected to do something that can solve the problem, in exchange for enough money to get them out of that hellhole. The job: transport cans of extremely-volatile nitroglycerin in a truck in a harrowing 218-mile trek through jungle terrain to the site of the disaster.

This long segment is one of the most suspenseful and well-photographed scenes I've ever seen on film. This is good stuff, particularly for the first-time viewer. There are some amazing scenes that just about wear you out.

Added to the no-nonsense story directed by one of the best, William Friedkin, is some unique electronic music by "Tangerine Dream." If you are thinking of the kids watching, there is no sex and very little profanity but some of the violence is very bloody.
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Sweaty, volatile and nail-biting.
Sergeant_Tibbs28 May 2014
An unfortunate circumstance slipped Sorcerer into the ether. And that circumstance was Star Wars. They were released at the same time and any film up against the Wars of the Stars was dwarfed in comparison. It's terribly unfair as Lucas' success consequently became Friedkin's downfall. Sorcerer is a very good film, a great one in fact. Based upon the same book as the classic French film The Wages of Fear, it's material worth repeating in the perpetually sweaty grit of the 70s. The problem with Wages is that it spent an unnecessary hour and a half on setup. Sorcerer is a bit better, spending an hour instead, but it's much leaner and doesn't waste time. Opening with quick engaging vignettes, I can see how a viewer who wasn't aware of their appearance would feel alienated. They're not exactly necessary but it opens up the world of Sorcerer in a way that it wouldn't do otherwise. It's thanks to its dynamic editing, super quick and super sharp all the time while holding onto the tension.

As a result, the film is like the most thrilling parts of The French Connection put into one volatile barrel. It's a shame that Friedkin doesn't like working with Roy Scheider in hindsight, considering he got him an Oscar nomination for Connection, but I'm a big fan of him. He's a great leading man in All That Jazz, for example. Here, the cast do struggle to stand out and make their mark, but that's because the material doesn't lend itself to personalities and inner struggle. They're best used metaphorically, which Sorcerer doesn't do overtly. Instead, the joy is watching the men's resourcefulness, especially in a sequence where a big trunk is in the way, or the nail-biting bridge scene. What stands out is the remarkable sound design that makes every crunch feel life-threatening. It's a shame the score by Tangerine Dream is so dated, even if it was celebrated at the time. Works at times, doesn't at others. Sorcerer is a rough around the edges movie, but a thrilling ride nevertheless.

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Tense and Suspenseful
bkoganbing7 July 2012
I've not yet seen The Wages Of Fear, but I have seed the American B picture remake The Violent Road. That was a good no frills film, but Sorcerer is really first rate and shows what can be done by a good director with the budget to use it. A lot of which was spent by hiring a truly international cast to play his four protagonists.

The phrase 'international cast' is a rather overused description for a group of players of various backgrounds. But in this film William Friedkin used four players who were top names in the cinema of their respective countries. Roy Scheider, Paco Rabal, Amidou, and Bruno Cresson insured that the various countries they represented would be plunking down their money to see Sorcerer as well as guaranteeing some great performances.

These four people who no one would say are the cream of the crop from their society all wind up in exile in a South American jungle working on an oil rig under assumed names. Roy Scheider is a gangster from America on the lam because he pulled the wrong job and shot the priest brother of a Mafioso. Paco Rabal is a contract killer from Spain, he might be there looking for Scheider. Bruno Cresson is a French war hero fleeing a banking scandal. And Amidou who is from Morocco is a terrorist the Israelis want real bad.

There's an oil fire that's threatening to burn over the jungle and the only available explosives to use to blow it out is some really unstable nitroglycerin which has to be transported 200 miles on some bad roads and other hazardous conditions. So four guys who really have nothing to lose volunteer to drive the stuff in two trucks.

William Friedkin made some great use of the location cinematography in the Dominican Republic to show what the great risks these guys are taking. You feel yourself riding shotgun with all of them on the trip.

As it happened I took a vacation in Spain in 2001 and when I got there the Spanish media was full of news of the death of Paco Rabal on a flight from Montreal to Madrid. You would have thought the head of state had passed away, he was that idolized by the people there. He and Roy Scheider played well off each other, their scenes are the best in the film.

Sorcerer is destined to be one eternal classic over the years, don't miss it if broadcast or better revived on the big screen.
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"No One Is Just Anything."
jzappa8 June 2010
Sorcerer's keynote is epitomized early on when introducing Bruno Cremer's wealthy character, living an ivory tower existence, with no reason yet to feel insecure about much. His wife reads to him a war article. He comments, "Just another soldier." She replies, "No one is just anything." Indeed, in William Friedkin's merciless adventures, heroic characters tend to be defined by any and everything contemptible, villains are unknowable, the lines between them are exceedingly vague…and arbitrary. The French Connection, man-versus-man. The Exorcist, man-versus-unexplained. With Sorcerer, man-versus-chance, an indefinable, undetected competitor. The realm of Friedkin's visualization is a perilous, brutal, ethically insolvent one where there bluntly is no God, just randomness, meaninglessness, pure survival.

Unlike Clouzot's incredible original film, Friedkin doesn't allow for easy identification with any of the central figures, and despite Roy Scheider's impressively physical central performance, it remains emotionally aloof. But that doesn't matter. Seeing each man's prior exploits tells so much, voyeuristically, about their behavior when they happen upon each other in the thirsty alien setting where they're all out of their elements. We also see how regular joes can be monsters.

Also, throughout their respective prefaces, Friedkin foretells the boiling dangers awaiting our scandalous foursome, with sardonic counterpoint. Francisco Rabal abandons the hotel in a wrought-iron elevator decorated green, as are the hotel walls. As Amidou and his co-conspirators plan their getaway, they hurriedly study a map. When he chooses "the long way," the suggestion's far more poignant than he realizes. It's also in the early New Jersey fast-sketch that Friedkin's murky jesting emerges: In a church cellar, various priests calculate thousands of dollars, wearing visors, more like bookies than Christ's followes. Armed robbers break in. At the wedding upstairs, the ceremony's priest declares, "Christ abundantly blesses this love." Back to the basement as dollars gush from canvas bags, robbers jam their pouches. Upstairs, "You've strengthened your consent before the Church." Friedkin pushes into bride and groom. The bride has a black eye.

In a Paris café comprising close-ups of enticing culinary delights, Cremer, his wife and their friend babble about substandard lobster in humid South American waters, while Cremer merely half-listens. The truck Scheider runs into has a Meridian Freight insignia. Friedkin's pessimistic joking could be doubled here: Scheider zigzags off a "meridian" in a manufacturing district, a massive water tower dwarfing everything else. He'll eventually find himself in a manufacturing gutter of the world. During his getaway, he passes big color signs promoting things he won't see, have or enjoy again.

A handful of exiles and fugitives from starkly different backgrounds, cultures, nationalities are driven by desperation to go into hiding, working in an obscure oil drilling operation in South America. When fire breaks out of control, they each seize a chance to earn enough money to escape their hellholes, earn citizenship, feel as if they might restore honor, by transporting crates of unstable dynamite through miles of perilous jungle in rusty, rickety old trucks. But this dynamite, negligently stored, literally oozes nitro. Any shock, any vibration, they detonate. Somehow, driving in pairs, these men must carry their cargo past a crumbling rope-suspension bridge, swinging ferociously in a savage storm over a flood-heaving river, a colossal tree blocking the road, and a flock of forlorn, vicious bandits.

The cash sum being rewarded to the drivers is erratic all through the film. The oil company first says they will pay 8,000 pesos to each driver. Later the demand doubles. Later one boasts that he and another one will get double shares of 20,000 each. By the end, a check reads 40,000 pesos which would be just 10,000 each. This seems like one of Friedkin's sadistic impositions of his thematic intentions. We're drawn into circumstances so desperate, so reckless, any amount sounds beautiful, any amount will do, then eventually, returning to any semblance of relatable civilization is all that matters.

Friedkin and screenwriter Walon Green strip the source story's existential themes to the core. Driven by a series of striking images, it ultimately goes one step further than Clouzot by suggesting that humankind is subject not only to the vagaries of fate and nature but to its own vengeful, venal essence. What's so enrapturing about Sorcerer is that the needs and situations that occur, one after another, are so primal, these characters are hairpin turns between murderously divided and collaborating with implicit trust. Friedkin exemplifies the seduction of voyeurism in the very close, detailed but utterly omniscient way we follow each unrelated character to this godforsaken place, where they know absolutely nothing of each other, but we've seen them all in their respective realms of normalcy, the shameful predicaments that got them here. But just as well, we're ever so subtly implicated in the vengeful, venal, not in what we see but what we find ourselves expecting. Take for example the riot that erupts in the street after the oil explosion. The townspeople are violent, frenzied, relentless, but Friedkin leaves out the authorities' retaliation. And we expect it…indeed, we begin to want it, relate to it. It's a disturbing feeling.

Friedkin loves to show mechanisms, the down and dirty way things work, as in the montage with minor-key synth music showing the rag-tag bunch preparing trucks. It makes us that much more conscious of the threadbare fragility of the utterly extraordinary ensuing action sequences, most notably the hazardous rainstorm crossing of the fragile rope-bridge. No matter how much these men exert themselves to cover every corner, suspect everyone, spot every detail, do whatever they can to ensure their survival, they never have any control over their own fates, not how they got into this mess or how or if they get out of it. They don't all speak the same language, none of them trust or even understand one another, or even use their real names. Even if they do succeed, or some, or none, they have about as much control over their deaths as they do their births.
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A Rare kind of Action movie experience
farcryfolk15 April 2010
SPOILERS This is one of those movies that demands a close second look. At first glance it seems like a unique action movie with some good performances. But upon closer inspection, this movie is almost like a minor horror movie, somewhat reminding one of The Sixth Sense, with its twisted vision of a man in hell. If one were to pay close attention to several scenes in the film, one would come away thinking that the main character played by Roy Scheider, has literally died and went to hell. From the beginning when he is involved in a car crash, what follows is a subtle, yet highly symbolic underlying theme of a man who is on a journey to the devils domain. COnsider the car crash, was Roy Scheider the only survivor, or was he indeed dead, perhaps a ghost. Consider the group that he was forced to join on their suicide mission, an assassin, a terrorist, a swindler and a gangster, all headed for the fall, and a trip to hell for their bad deeds. Consider the burning fires of the oil factory, this is where they are headed, the fires are symbolic of hell itself. Consider the crossing of the bridge in the storm. The sound of that terrifying wailing wind, the demon wind, could that have been the entrance, the gates to hell itself, there are so many slight references to the idea that this is more then what it seems. In a nutshell Sorcerer is simply brilliant, the kind of movie that they just do not make anymore.
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Trying to get my own copy of this film for AGES
patchesdf27 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I completely forgot about this film until SPEED TV played it latenight on TV and I missed nearly half of it. Ever since I've been scrounging around for it and finally specially ordered it from A&B Sound.

Sorcerer was made by the same man who made the French Connection and the Exorcist around the same time, so it definitely has that early gritty look to it which I love. The premise is brilliant. Four men on the run with lives each flushed down the hopper united in some mad and dangerous journey.

Set up.

An oil rig has blown in some forsaken hole in South America under some generic dictatorship. The rig is burning and they need to blast it out as soon as possible.

Problem The only cache of explosives big enough to do the job were kept 218 miles away and they weren't stored properly. Dynamite sticks need to be turned every so often in storage or else the nitroglycerin bleeds out the bottom and pools at the bottom of the stack. This makes it incredibly unstable and ready to blow.

Solution Drive two trucks through the most treacherous and insanely difficult terrain to get the really unstable explosives from point A to point B, 218 miles away. Offer a truckload of money and find four men desperate enough to do it. Our heroes, men on the run with nothing to lose and little to live for, who just happen to also be crack mechanics and damn good truck drivers. They're using two trucks because odds are one wont make it. They're actually carrying six times as much explosive as they need to do the job.

So after a brief road test to see who can do the job, they turn the men loose. And what you get, in my opinion, is some of the most insanely dangerous and brilliantly filmed sequences ever captured on film. This movie rocked. In this film is a moment that is on the top of my top ten list of most amazing moments captured on film. It's when the second truck, a 10 ton rig, tries to cross a rickety swaying bridge that isn't fit to hold up an anemic mule. The guide is hanging on for dear life waving the truck forward, there's a torrential downpour hammering down, there's a flooding river beneath them, and this truck just teetering on the edge of flipping over making its way across. Not one lick of computer animation in it and it totally kicks the butt of anything captured on modern film. Beautiful.

This film should be viewed by every CG-obsessed film maker to show what can be done in the real world to bring back real organic suspense.
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In Many Ways, Superior to Wages of Fear
homeopt20 March 2004
Friedkin's unacknowledged masterpiece is clearly superior in the 1st and 2nd acts as he gives superb backdrops into the individual stories of the main protagonists. When we see them in the 2nd act, amidst the grit and grime of a backwater Latin American nation, we understand the desperation that would have led them to such a place.

The seering reality of the depravity they now live in was much more effective in Friedkin's movie. You don't expect to see a gorgeous hooker in this environment, unlike the unrealistic Wages of Fear. Oddly enough, Wages of Fear is actually much more Holly-wood like in its storytelling than Sorcerer.

Mind you, I do like Wages of Fear and actually thought it was a great movie, but I have to revise my opinion after seeing a movie that actually does it right.

Congrats, Friedkin.
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24_frames27 March 2004
Firstly this is a great film, I've always thought that, even though the original Wages of Fear is my all time favourite film. Roy Scheider is at his best in Sorcerer, totally believable at all times, if ever a man deserved a gong it was Roy.

A question: 1.How many versions of this film are there? I've seen at least two: the US DVD (sadly just full frame and panned and scanned), and a perhaps longer TV version that was shown on UK TV circa 1981-82. The DVD starts with a close up of a stone statue, the TV version with a long helicopter shot over the jungle with Tangerine Dream's excellent score. The group are credited at the beginning in red titles. The TV version also has one of the oil bosses describe the area as the 'Devil's Asshole!' the endings are different as well (I won't mention what happens in either just in case you haven't seen the movie) Perhaps one day Billy Friedkin will re-release this film in a package that it deserves and Mark Kermode will have something to talk about apart from the Excorcist :)
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A victim of the Skywalkers
cheattila8 June 2013
In 1977 there was a turn in New Hollywood: George Lucas' epic space fantasy tale had been released and taught the audience to escape from the problems of the real world to a faraway Galaxy. Star Wars has become a franchise, and several great movies has been forgotten, including William Friedkin's adaption of Clouzot's thriller, Wages of Fear.

Although, it was a box-office failure and knocked the famous movie-brat of French Connection and The Exorcist off the saddle, it is a very complex and unforgettable movie. There are only anti-heroes in it. The main characters are purely human, not good Jedi knight or evil Sith lords. They are all filthy, they are only after money. But at the time of crisis they have to cooperate. Unless, they are stuck and they won't get their money.

Friedkin's movie has a great atmosphere. It builds slowly (even a little bit too slowly at the beginning), but it serves a greater good: this way it could catch our attention and pulls us to the world of the story.

Furthermore, Sorcerer was still a part of the Hollywood Renaissance movement, so it is very ambiguous movie. It criticizes the society of the 70s. It represents Americans and Europeans as filthy outcasts, who see the Third World only as the source of money and power. And Sorcerer sentences this attitude to death. Therefore, it is no wonder that the audience of the forced optimism of the late 70s did not like this perspective. They wanted to forget the traumas of the past. They wanted an other Galaxy instead of the mud of the rain forests. They wanted Star Wars instead of Sorcerer. Fortunately, real film fans could enjoy Friedkin's achievement in spite of its box office failure.
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astonishing jungle thriller...
ptb-81 October 2011
Before MAD MAX 1 and 2 and before APOCALYPSE NOW came William Friedkin's utterly terrifying remake of THE WAGES OF FEAR called SORCERER. Many similar images and human themes came up in those latter films first explored in this truly visceral truck and jungle thriller. I saw it in a cinema a few years ago with Freidkin present as host and with a terrific Q&A session afterward. The full 121 minute version not seen in 1977 in its 93 min form (Leave off reels 1 and 2). Seen on a big screen and in proper widescreen SORCERER was a gripping revelation. Thoughts of scenes and images lifted into the MAD MAXs and APOCALYPSE NOW also became noticed. However it is the utter reality of the filming location and the overwhelming nightmare concept and visuals of the truck trek through the hell of the wet jungle, climaxing in the most startling stunt work on a suspension bridge with both trucks creaking they way across rotten logs with a torrent river below that literally had grown men in the audience gasping in sheer horror. This is a monumental film and I can see why it cost $22m. Roy Schieder proves again why he was a great and reliable actor. If you can see SORCERER as a film in cinema you will appreciate it's full scope. Outrageously and insulting is the DVD which is a square screen cropping and should be binned until the blu ray comes out in full terror splendour.
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Nothing short of a masterpiece but it needs more recognition
greene5157 January 2011
A group of outcasts from different backgrounds/nationalities are forced by their respective circumstances to work in a remote oil drilling operation in an unnamed area of South America. The group led by Roy Scheider are given the opportunity to earn enough money to get out of the dirty banana republic by transporting two crates of unstable nitroglycerin through miles of jungle in trucks that have seen better days. In my opinion 'Sorcerer' is Nothing short of a masterpiece but it needs more recognition at the moment it is widely available on DVD but it is not of a high standard that one is used to seeing. The aspect ratio i believe is 1.66.1 but the format used for the DVD is atrocious it is in full as opposed to Wide-screen and to add insult to injury it is panned and scanned and is not in a great transfer, William Friedkin should re-release this film either theatrically or domestically he got away with doing it with 'The Exorcist' so why not Sorcerer?
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The Ultimate Sleeper film
cpratt2212 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
When ever I am asked what my favorite movie is, I always say that is too hard to pick. The best I can do is discuss my top 10 movies. Scorcer is one of them. It is also one of those great 70's movies that as of yet, no one other then myself has ever heard of. William Fridkin is a grand master of building tension in a film. The way he develops the back story of the characters and presents them to us at there worst, sitting in a filthy bar, in some crappy 3rd world south American town, out of money and out of luck.. This is where things get interesting. An oil fire in the jungle requires explosives to put it out, however the only explosives have been stored in a forgotten shack and has become so unstable that the slightest bump could set it all off. This is where our out of luck characters come in. They are recruited to truck the crates in different trucks, across the worst roads and conditions on earth. The sound track from Tangerine Dream is like a relentless heart beat that keeps you on the edge. As these beat-up military 4x4's attempt to cross raging rivers, and muddy washed out jungle roads. To get paid you have to be the first one there. Just a fantastic tension filled film.
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A harrowing documentary-like thriller and one of the 70's lost masterpieces ...
ElMaruecan8217 August 2011
When I learned that "The Wages of Fear" had inspired a remake, my immediate reaction was 'Why'? Remaking a popular and universally acclaimed classic such as Henri-George Clouzot's masterpiece sounded as blasphemous as the idea of remaking "Gone With the Wind" or "The Godfather". You simply can't touch movies that already achieved a certain level of cinematic greatness. But that was an immediate reaction …

My interest toward "Sorcerer" increased; I found out that the movie made Roger Ebert's Top 10 great lists of 1977, an interesting endorsement. The casting of Roy Sheider spoke also in favor of the film, not only for my deep appreciation of this actor, but also because his name is associated with some of the greatest thrillers of the 1970's : "Marathon Man", "Jaws" and of course, "The French Connection", which has another name in common with "Sorcerer" : William Friedkin.

We all are familiar with the plot of "The Wages of Fear", four men recruited for a suicide mission, to drive two trucks full of nitroglycerin over mountain roads. Any bump, and the truck explode with no warning and the four men must deal with natural and psychological obstacles with nerves of steel. The film was simply one of the most suspenseful movies ever. So, who else than the same film-maker who directed the chase sequence in "The French Connection" or the psychological thrills of "The Exorcist" could have handled the story with the same, if not better, level of intensity?

So, I finally discovered "Sorcerer" …

And all I can say is that William Friedkin proved again his masterful talent to accentuate the tension and the sense of pressure with a gripping documentary-like realism that almost surpassed the original. I almost blamed some parts for having indirectly pointed out minor flaws from the original film. Indeed, while "The Wages of Fears" had the entertainment value of a great adventure film, "Sorcerer" made me touch the dirt, smell the grease or feel the humidity in the Nicaraguan tropical jungle and on these men's boiling foreheads.

I was positively surprised by the deliberate distance taken from the original, with never betraying the core of the film. The four protagonists are all criminal, running from the law and outcasts in their respective countries, as the only reason that could justify their motivations to move on in such a hostile setting. In a long almost half-an-hour sequence, we're introduced to each one of them. The South-American Nilo (Francisco Rabal), the Arab terrorist Kassem aka Martinez (Amidou), a rich French businessman accused of fraud Victor Manzon aka Martinez (Bruno Cremer) and a mob killer Jackie Scanlon aka Juan Dominguez (Roy Sheider)

From Paris to New Jersey with a detour to Jerusalem, the movie shows the characters' backgrounds, providing an international feel to better underline the dead-end aspect of the location they will all end up. It's a very significant change from the original film as it respects our intelligence enough not to throw borderline stereotypes in our faces and make their flaws more understandable and the eventuality of their death more poignant. The movie avoids any kind of cinematic cliché, including the waitress character that's physically far from the glamorous Vera Clouzot, but her relationship with Scanlon provides a genuine oasis of tenderness in a rather harrowing film.

The movie gets even deeper by explaining how the explosive liquid was in fact dynamite badly conserved which transformed it into 'sweating nitro' , what's the purpose of such subtleties? I think this the kind of details that make the difference, never taking anything for granted just because the material worked before. Thoughtfully dedicated to Clouzot, I will never go as far as saying that the movie is better than the original version, but it does create an atmosphere that exclusively belongs to it, an atmosphere embodied by the electronic score of Tangerine dream that captures the thrilling vibes of the late 70's.

Among the uniquely memorable scenes of the film there is the cult moment when they drive the truck on the suspended rope bridge. This is film-making at its best, you must see it to believe it, and I couldn't believe a few people only experienced that in a theater. The special effects, the editing, the direction, everything is perfect and when you have this big truck that can't go back; driving on a swaying bridge, under a violent wind and a pouring rain, if ever there was a Top 10 most nightmarish situation from a movie, I would include this one.

The nightmarish feel increase as the elements and fate never cease to harass these men, descending them into a level of madness highlighted by the existential realization of their missions' innate futility, where there's more than a reward to gain, there's also honor and dignity. More than a remake, "Sorcerer" is an extraordinary work of art and I can't believe its astounding sequences didn't earn it more than a lousy Oscar nomination for Best Sound.

Now, why isn't the movie more famous, or appreciated …

I considered the answer might come from the release's year and my suspicion was confirmed. The movie opened just after a certain movie named "Star Wars" … and besides that cruel irony of fate, the movie suffered from a particularly misleading title. I'm among those who believe the title was wrong. Seriously, just ask yourself what you would expect from a movie named "Sorcerer" released by the guy who made the "Exorcist"?

You know what the title in French is: "The Convoy of Death", how cool and relevant does that sound? Or what if the title was simply "The Wages of Fear"? If one thing, it would have at least avoided a misinterpretation as there's absolutely no supernatural elements in that film!

Mystery, it's as if the movie was victim of its own sorcery …
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" If The Devil Paid our wages, . . we would own him some change "
thinker16914 November 2008
In the world of crime, there are many things a criminal could do to have someone seek revenge. If one chooses to go ahead with the crime without regards to the outcome, then it is said the devil will have his revenge in due time. The author of the book (George Arnaud), " Wages of Fear " said as much in his original work. If you read the novel, you begin to realize there are a couple of organizations in the real world who might have been created by the devil. The two are The Mob and the second is the F.B.I. With the help of Inter-Pol (International Police) anyone who makes their most wanted list will never be able to hide anywhere in the world. The second and more sinister organization is The Mafia. Commit a crime against them and its said 'you can run, but you cannot hide' from them. This basis is the foundation of the film, " Sorcerer ." Although the first choice of star for the film was the Late Steve McQueen, the second choice of Roy Scheider as Jackie Scanlon was fated to be just as good. The rest of the cast Bruno Cremer as Victor Manzon, Francisco Rabal as Nilo and Amidou as Kassem all join in to create a feature film of superb quality. Each man is someone else when an oil company reaches into the heart of the Amazon seeking desperate men for an extremely hazardous job of trucking a cargo of sensitive and unstable Nitro over rugged mountains, treacherous bridges and monsoon jungles. The men hired are hiding and on the run, but each seek redemption through wealth if they live. The hand of fate had left them in obscurity but the film alludes to what length it will go to remind them of their destiny. An excellent job by director William Friedkin as he offers this movie to anyone seeking a dramatic classic. ****
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Rare Chance To See Scheider Carry A Film
CitizenCaine5 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Following Jaws and a supporting role in Marathon Man, Roy Scheider starred in William Friedkin's remake of The Wages Of Fear: Sorcerer. The plot concerns four criminals who intersect when living in exile in Central America. The men are asked to drive cases of nitroglycerin over 200 miles of jungle infested hazards, including muddy terrain, dilapidated bridges, giant trees blocking their path, and jungle rebels. The four prologues of the men are confusing at first because viewers aren't sure of the common thread binding them together until well into the film. Once the men arrive in the remote jungle village, tension builds slowly until the men are selected to do the driving. Once they leave the village, the tension is riveting as the men face one unbelievable obstacle after another.

Director/producer Friedkin utilizes all the classic conflicts: man vs. himself, man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. machine, and man vs. fate. The film moves incredibly fast for one that clocks in at just over two hours with jaw-dropping scenes prompting viewers to wonder aloud how certain scenes were possibly filmed. The film received an Oscar nomination for best sound, losing to a film entitled Star Wars. Also, the film bombed at the box office due to its release during the Star Wars phenomenon. Walon Green wrote the screenplay based on Georges Arnaud's novel. It remains one of Friedkin's best films, and his personal favorite, due to its nail-biting tension and lack of lulls. *** of 4 stars.
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cult movie from 70'
who84427 December 2005
the movie is divided in 2 parts,a first one about the European experiences of the main characters and how all these experiences guide them to a "losers life",to the fatality,i prefer of course the second part,full of mysterious adventures atmosphere but full of the taste and smell of the blood....u know this is not Indiana Jones,there are no jokes to make the watcher feel more comfortable,u can feel the hot and hard breathe air,the violence of this life,same in urban world as in wild world,a very very realistic film,all the actors are superb,including the Spanish master actor Francisco Rabal creating a terminate and borderline character in the best way of Peckinpah films. the music fit great at some points,great work of electronic masters tangerine dream,but not a well finished soundtrack. the scenes of explosions are unique in history of cinema,i really tell u,some of the most real scenes in along time,they were real big explosions,all the scenes on the bridge are unforgettable too,u will never forget them,i can hardly think about a better cult scene in history of modern cinema than that.this could be named the most underrated master piece from seventies in my view. i give the movie 9/10 because the movie was very bad mixed and produced at last,lot of cuttings and bad versions. i really love this film.
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