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'Sorcerer' is an absolute gem from cinema's past

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Sorcerer

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As long as there have been films to be made, there are films to get remade and the results are usually ranging from sketchy to downright brilliant. On the brilliant end of that spectrum, the long unseen but never forgotten "Sorcerer" is now available on Blu-Ray for the very first time as we get an intense look into the heart of desperation and four unfortunate men who will do whatever it takes to shake it.

Set on the edge of a South American jungle, "Sorcerer" is the desperate tale of a four man team (featuring Roy Scheider and Bruno Cremer) working beyond the middle of nowhere are tasked to carry a cargo of nitroglycerin over 200 miles of treacherous terrain in order to stop a potentially catastrophic oil fire. Hiding from the world, these men will do anything for money, even risk their own lives in order to stay hidden from those who are looking for them and they know that on this trip, they won't all make it back.

Coming off of "The Exorcist", director William Friedkin was quite simply at the height of his powers as "Sorcerer" is a spectacle of tension, desperation and thrills as we ride into a genuine heart of darkness with these men.

Working from the book "The Wages of Fear" by Georges Arnaud and the movie of the same name by Henri-Georges Cluzot, this script from Walon Green captures the genuine nail biting tension that makes this story so genuinely compelling to watch. Friedkin is allowed to full reign to unfurl this pot-boiler at such a deliberate pace to the point that it will feel like you are inching towards the edge of your couch one pain staking millimeter at a time.

In many ways this feels like Friedkin's "Apocalypse Now", through the elements, the stress, the muck and the mire we are following these men on what is either their salvation or the absolute doom. These men know it and Friedkin reminds us of it every step of the way. From beginning to end is an engrossing tale of the less desirable aspects of human nature. We might be able to deny it, but thanks to some wonderful performances we can never truly look away.

Coming in the middle of a key stretch in his career, Roy Scheider was great as the shifty Jackie Scanlon aka 'Juan Dominguez'. He was a small time crook in the wrong place at the wrong time when a robbery went bad. Now, existing in this place that time has seemingly forgotten, he is desperate to redeem himself and find a way out. In one variation or another the rest of these men, Bruno Cremer, Amidou and Francisco Rabal are all in the same boat as they find themselves joined at the hip looking for their own way out on a mission that is just as suicidal as it is admirable.

You'd never think that a film about four men going into the heart of the unforgiving jungle in order to find themselves a new life could be as nail biting and truly enjoyable as "Sorcerer" is, but it truly manages to be a fantastic piece of storytelling because as much as we root for these men on their journey, we know damn well what got them there and why they'll never get out.

5 out of 5 stars.

Sadly, there are no special features on this Blu-Ray release but the freshly restored picture and sound are more than enough to demand a place on any self respecting film aficionados shelf.

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