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330 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Val Kilmer, Sam Shepard and Graham Greene star in this powerful murder mystery with all the style and suspense of Witness. Kilmer stars as Ray Levoi, a hotshot FBI agent who's thrust into a strange new world when he is sent to solve a murder on an Indian reservation. Hand-picked because of his part-Sioux ancestry, Levoi is teamed with a legendary older agent (Shepard) to capture a radical Indian protester. But once on the reservation, Levoi encounters the irreverent local sheriff (Greene), and the tribe's religious leader (Chief Ted Thin Elk), who knows secrets about Levoi's own lost heritage. And as Levoi's awareness of the native culture grows, so does his belief that the U.S. government has framed an innocent man. A crackerjack mystery and a personal triumph of the heart.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Val Kilmer, Sam Shepard, Graham Greene (II), Fred Ward, Fred Dalton Thompson
  • Producers: Robert De Niro
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 24, 2003
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (330 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0767812182
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,647 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Thunderheart" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

114 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Rocco Dormarunno on May 11, 2004
Format: DVD
Time over time, Val Kilmer has proven that he is not just a pretty face. He has continually impressed even the most severe critics that he is a formidable actor. THUNDERHEART, to me, is among his best performances.
There is some predictability in the plot: Kilmer portrays an FBI agent who is part Native-American. When he is sent to a reservation to investigate a crime, he begins to respect and embrace the heritage he had not previously acknowledged. What is not predictable, however, is how well the script avoids sentiment and focuses on Kilmer's transformation.
Loosely based on the actual events surrounding Leonard Peltier's American Indian Movement, and the murders of FBI agents on the Pine Ridge reservation (all of which is the subject of Peter Matthiessen's book "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse"), THUNDERHEART is a powerful examination of the surreal and frightening life on Native American reservations. Brutality is everywhere: whites against Indians, Indians against Indians, etc. Director Michael Apted does a remarkable job of tempering the violence with scenes of beauty and with images of a peace-loving tribe of people. This is a heartbreaking film at times, but there is a sense of justice in the long-run. THUNDEHEART is not a piece of hunk-actor mind candy. This is a powerful (and underrated) film that demands your attention. It is well-worth it.
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96 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Tolle on March 21, 2001
Format: DVD
If I remember correctly, this movie was not rated well when it was first released in theatres. I couldn't understand why since it was well made, had a decent cast and had a thought provoking plot based on true events.
The cinematography is very attactive in showing the badlands of South Dakota and featuring looks into the Indian reservations. Also, the music was well done and offered a nice perspective of Native American sounds and environments.
This movie also sends a message about a darker time in America's past when the govenrment perpetrated some devious acts against the Native Americans. Maybe it was high time that these events came out into the open so that more people would know what happened and know that what the U.S. government did was very wrong.
Val Kilmer proved to be well suited for the "by the book" FBI agent that came of age and got in touch with his Indian heritage and learned to do the right thing. Sam Shepard, a great actor as always, played the role very well of the "dark horse" FBI agent with skeletons in his closet and a secret agenda on the Sioux reservation. Graham Greene could not have done any better as the reservation police officer. Showing his pride and dignity as an Native American along with the humorous backlashings at Val Kilmer made for pleasant interactions throughout the movie.
A movie worth watching again and again.
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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Cairene on May 25, 2000
Format: DVD
A low profile but vicious war is being waged on the Oglala Sioux reservation in South Dakota, on one hand there are the "traditionalists" who are adamant on protecting their culture, on the other are the pro-governement natives led by a particulary nasty man called John Milton (Fred Ward). This war results in a murder of Leo Fast Elk, a native who was also a council member. Due to the sensitivity if the case the FBI does the PC thing and sends a one fourth Indian agent named Roy Levoi (Val Kilmer). The first hint that the this won't be another run of the mill thriller is the Roy Levoi character, he isn't your average hero, infact he is no hero at all. When we first see him he is a "by the book" FBI man, and the film more then anything else is the story of how he wrestles with and discovers his true identity. Kilmer's performance is both subtle and superb.
Good thrillers keep us guessing for the truth, great thrillers like Peter Weir's WITNESS and Jim Mcbride's THE BIG EASY are more concerned with the atmosphere and cultural quirks of the characters. Thunderheart is very nearly a great thriller, more concerned with the thematic and moral implications of the Indian tribal wars then using Indians for atmosphere. There is a real sense of discovery in watching this film, an attention to detail that gives it the credibilty to survive the rules of the thriller. There is also undercurrent supernatural element (actually spiritual would be more accurate) that is handled with subtlety and grace by the director.
Hitchcock said there is no suspense in the boom, only the anticipation of one. As a result most thrillers have to survive their endings.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By LoveHarryPotter on August 23, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
"Run, run for the Stronghold, Thunderheart.' 'The soldiers are coming." This movie is one of my favorites. I really did not care for Val Kilmer when I found out he played a key role in that idiot of a movie Top Gun but since Thunderheart, he has become one of my favorites. You can actually see the change in Val Kilmer's eyes as his character unfolds into the shaman and guardian of Indian beliefs he becomes at the end and what an ending! I saw this movie at four different theaters and every time the audience gasped at a relieved surprise when both men turn to face The Stronghold. The director lifted a story of one man's journey of a mystical discovery of himself, his heritage, a past life and an adoration of Indian land, into a poetic defiance. All the actors, including the dog, weave a clever, funny, sad and powerful tale into one explosive climax. Even James Horner's music hypnotizes the viewer from the very beginning of the movie. It is as if you can shape shift into a another form and float across the Badlands. I see this movie once a month and when I loan it to friends, they return it with a look of wonder in their eyes. I wish there could had been some kind of sequel. If you watch the ending credits, you will see the name of the individual this movie is dedicated to. On another note, the mystical quality of the movie reminds me of The Last Wave and Never Cry Wolf which are both well done. How I wish for a sequel. Michael Apted, are you listening?
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