[box cover]

Salvador

Oliver Stone's 1986 film Salvador features James Woods as Richard Boyle, a burnt-out, down-on-his-luck journalist looking for money and a ticket to get back into the action, any action. In 1980, the year this film takes place, that action just happens to be El Salvador, which promises to turn into another Vietnam. Coasting on one book he wrote about his experiences in Cambodia — and desperately reminding everyone he speaks to of his past glories — Boyle is vain, hard-up and egocentric. He cons his DJ pal Dr. Rock (James Belushi) out of some cash, convinces him to go along on the trip, and what starts out for the pair as an R-rated Hardy Boys adventure filled with drugs, booze and whores becomes a harrowing, eye-opening journey for them both. Between his relationships with the beautiful Salvadoran woman (Elpedia Carrillo) and a fellow gonzo war correspondent from Newsweek (John Savage), plus his growing frustration with the U.S. military's insistence on escalating El Salvador's civil war at the expense of the country's people, Boyle rediscovers his own humanity and purpose. Despite the saturation of Stone excess (fortunately still sopping with creative energy back in '86), Salvador compels because of James Woods' brilliant, neurotic, high-energy portrayal of Boyle, for which he received an Oscar nomination. He hits every note in a rich, complex performance as a deeply flawed man who deep down knows what's right — he just has to get past his need to constantly score dope, money, jobs, ego-boosts and women to get there. Woods carries the picture, amply supported by Belushi (who's yet to see a better role than this one), John Savage, Cynthia Gibb, and Michael Murphy as a U.S. Ambassador who's doing the best he can with the misinformation being fed to him by his own government. MGM's Salvador: Special Edition offers a crisp anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. Commentary track by Oliver Stone, making-of feature "Into the Valley of Death" (60 min.), deleted scenes, still gallery, original theatrical trailer. Keep case.
—Dawn Taylor

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