Bargain price for a great film.
Director Ang Lee follows up the critically acclaimed THE ICE STORM with this look at the bloody, intense conflict between the pro-Confederate Bushwackers and the pro-Union Jayhawkers in Missouri during the Civil War. Pitting neighbor against neighbor, the war in the frontier state tested personal loyalties and often created strange alliances. The film, based on Daniel Woodrell's book WOE TO LIVE ON, follows the conflict through the eyes of two outsiders: a German immigrant's son (Tobey Maguire) and a free black man (Jeffrey Wright), both of whom fight for the Bushwhackers even though they are looked down upon by their fellow guerrillas. The acting is strong all around, the setting realistically grim and absorbing, and Frederick Elmes's photography is, as always, top-notch. Pop singer Jewel appears onscreen for the first time, playing a plucky Southern woman. A nuanced examination of the bonds of obligation, RIDE WITH THE DEVIL anticipates Lee's high-flying CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, both in theme and in pulse-pounding action. The film contains many standout action sequences, including a historically accurate re-creation of William Quantrill's infamous raid on Lawrence, Kansas.