Sorcerer - Trucks of Doom

Somewhere in the jungles of South America, in a squalid tropical slum for migrants who risk their lives working on a dangerous nearby oil rig owned by an American corporation, is where criminal fugitives of the world gather to escape the law.

Highly underrated, Sorcerer (1977) is evocative of such action adventure classics as Apocalypse Now (1979) and Fitzcarraldo (1982). It’s a gripping, relentless and fatalistic film about hard men struggling for survival against machine, nature and each other.

Visually, it’s steeped in grungy sweat dripping, mud encrusted imagery that immerses the viewer in a rough predatory world of desperate outlaws in hiding. Filmed in actual Jungle locations, the raw gritty visual details look completely authentic.

The local watering hole canteen is where some unlikely and unsavory characters cross paths; a hit man from Vera Cuz, a terrorist from Jerusalem, a corrupt business tycoon from Paris, and a mobster from New Jersey. They all have their secret reasons for being there, which are outlined in the first half of the film. They are men from all walks of life who end up in one of the poorest and remote regions on earth.

Now beautifully restored, this harrowing suspenseful adventure set in real locations around the world is a remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s classic French film The Wages of Fear (1953), which was a big hit in Europe in its own time and was based on the novel ‘Le Salaire de la Peur’ by Georges Arnaud. 

This remake by William Friedkin, who also directed The Exorcist (1973), The French Connection (1971) and Killer Joe (2011) is every bit as engaging and has lost none of its nail biting suspense, even improving on the original in many ways. 

The excitement really starts rolling when the call goes out from the oil company for skilled drivers to transport a deadly load of nitroglycerin in modified scrap trucks through 200 miles of treacherous jungle terrain. If they can make it to a blazing oil well fire without blowing themselves up in the process, they will be well rewarded. 

There’s an eerie synthesized soundtrack by Tangerine Dream throughout the action sequences that gives the movie that same cold fatalistic edgy feeling that Blade Runner (1982) had. For me it brought to mind the aesthetic soundscape of movies like Taxi Driver (1976), typical of the era it was made in.

The odds are heavily against the drivers as the volatile payload is contained in 6 deteriorating boxes that are so unstable that the slightest impact could blow a crater the size of a small town. The cobbled together trucks take on a personality of their own as they slog through the dense tropical forest like predatory metal beasts.

One of the last great films to come out of the new independent Hollywood that emerged after the old studio system collapsed, Sorcerer was the victim of bad timing when it first arrived in theaters and was sadly overlooked during the unexpected Sci-fi juggernaut that was the Star Wars (1977) phenomenon, which had opened in theatres just a month before and was still playing to packed houses for years afterward.

This newly digitally re-mastered classic, which will be available on Blu-ray and DVD April 22, 2014, may finally give this unnoticed film the attention it deserves. Don’t miss it.



Welli said...

Interesting description and quite vivid use of words there. It definately makes me look forward to watching the work. All the best.

Lenie Hokansson said...

This is not my type of movie but your review of it was amazing - I read the whole thing through and it was easy to visualize events. I'll be looking forward to reading more of your reviews.

the Frozen Canuck said...

I would watch the Sorcerer - Trucks of Doom - I like action/adventure type movies. I will certainly put this on my list to watch.

Even though the main characters seem like all bad guys, it sounds like that they could all have some redeeming qualities :)

Anna Khan said...

I normally do not watch such action movies but as you have described and talked about Apocalypse Now (1979. I feel it something worth watching.
I have read your post and the way you have described and with my vast experience of movies I was actually visualizing what will it be.
As you have done review of an Indian movie few weeks before that I liked a lot so I feel this is worth watching too.

Kire Sdyor said...

How did I miss this? Oh, that's right, I went and saw Star Wars every week for 2 years. Adding this one to my watch list. Thanks!

Balln Chainz said...

This is Jay

This is a great write up and description of the story. Your write up makes me want to go see this film. I will keep an eye out for this one.

Crystal said...

Great article and my husband would be into this movie. Was Blade Runner scary? Was Killer Joe scary to? I have heard of both of those movie but have never seen either of them.Power-win descriptive words. =)

Kumar Gauraw said...

I love action movies and as you have described using vivid words, I am inspired to look forward to watching this.
Thank you for sharing and all the best!