I did not read the novel "The Lords of Discipline" by Pat Conroy so I cannot comment on how successful the movie is in terms of the original material, as some of the other comments are able to do.
But judging the movie on its own merits, its half a triumph, half disappointment. I saw it when it was first released, because I liked David Keith and, well, I saw everything.
This review openly discusses several plot points.
Keith plays Will, everyone's favorite. As he is returning to the Academy for senior year, he is welcomed by staff and classmates alike. This year is going to be slightly different, he finds out early, because a black student (Pierce, played by Mark Breland) has entered the school (its 1964 and we are in the South). He is asked by Bear (Robert Prosky) to keep an eye on this particular student. Will wants nothing more than to coast through his senior year, but Bear calls in old favors so Will is obligated.
On Hell Night, naturally all the white trash goes straight for Pierce. They also go for an overweight student called Poteete. Both boys are humiliated and tortured by the suffering does not end for Poteete, as he is kidnapped (sort of) by 'The Ten', a secret society of the ten best seniors. Their threats make a Hell Night hazing seem like a day at the beach. Poteete has to be talked down from a ledge, because he is so frightened by 'The Ten' and that he won't be able to survive the entire year. The next time he's on the ledge he successfully commits suicide. In the meantime, Pierce is also being singled out, but Will tells him to communicate what is going on, so at least he can report the cruelty that he is enduring.
Eventually Will decides 'The Ten' must be held responsible for their continuous torture. He recruits his roommates to help him. As they find out more and more, they are then singled out. Dante Pignetti (Rick Rossovich) is eventually expelled for something very trumped up and silly, but Will is still determined to get to the bottom of it.
The movie takes some questionable turns in the later innings. The characters played by Judge Reinhold, Bill Paxton and Michael Biehn are one-sided bigoted bullies and nothing else. They may as well all sleep under a rock, and most likely do not even deserve more than that, but its too easy to just show a future Grand Wizard of the KKK as being only that. Since Biehn reveals himself to be one of 'The Ten', its also extremely convenient that he is in a position to give demerits to the Will and his roommates, but it would have been more effective if he had been seen in that position BEFORE all the drama took place. Its also pretty lousy that the character of Poteete is only mentioned once after his suicide. There is no investigation from outside authorities, or even any motivation to 'get to the bottom of it' on his behalf. Its almost as if he's in the movie just so 'The Ten' can be introduced to the audience through his experience with them, and once he does that, he serves no purpose. But the character of Pierce dealt with them, also, so they would have been introduced through their cowardly treatment of him.
David Keith was very popular in the late 70's/early 80's. I saw most of his movies and am sorry he never had a lengthy career, but it seems as though Kurt Russell, Patrick Swayze, Dennis Quaid and Kevin Costner got all the parts David could have played. This was one of his only starring roles, and he's very good without overdoing it. He's always pretty believable, even when the movie isn't. 6/10.
The Lords of Discipline
The Lords of Discipline
Will arrives for his last year at The Carolina Military Institute, in the Deep South USA, in the 1960s. A black student, Pearce, has been accepted, for the first time and Will is asked to keep an eye out for the inevitable racism. The racists come in the form of The Ten, a secret group of the elite students. They want Pearce to leave on his own free will, but are prepared to torture him to make it 'his free will'. Will is forced to help Pearce and he is prepared to risk his own career to do so. —Matthew Stanfield
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
September 19, 2021 at 11:08 PM