Boetie Goes to the Border (1984)

Before he engaged in some Wild Maneuvres, Arnold Vosloo starred in his breakout role with this original satire military film that like its sequel, brings a bit of Stripes to mind with some serious and emotional moments added.

Boetie van Tonder comes from a rich family and he’s been using the notion of being rich to his advantage. A soon to be college graduate, Boetie spends his days wooing many women, such as his philosophy teacher, and gets into mischief. However, with all young strapping men in South Africa, Boetie is about to get a lesson in life as he’s conscripted to join the South African Army for two years. Something he’s dreaded for a long time.

Upon his arrival, he decides to once again cause loads of mischief, causing constant rifts with his commandant Davel and Corporal Botes. Eventually, Boetie comes to his senses and decides to go along with the program and in the midst of things, makes a group of friends who soon become his “brothers”. As they prepare for a mission in the Border War, tensions rise and emotions are on overload as this band of brothers, especially Boetie, are ready to do what it takes to be real soldiers.

After some small roles in his native South Africa, Arnold Vosloo was given his breakout role as a rich boy turned soldier in this at times funny satire film that brings to mind Stripes due to the certain antics he pulls off upon his entering the military. We get to see Boetie and one of his few girlfriends driving behind a military van where the soldiers cheer for the girlfriend. The fact we see the military van just gives us a preview of what to expect.

Vosloo gives us a sense of his acting range here as he goes from playing comic lead to emotional and fighting soldier. The transition of course is slow, but it does help there is great support in the forms of Frank Opperman’s De Kock and Kerneels Coertzen as Commadant Davel. Of course, the chemistry between Vosloo and Eric Nobbs’ Cpl. Botes is reminiscent of Bill Murray’s John Winger and Warren Oates’ Sgt. Hulka. However, during the final 30 minutes of the film, things do get a bit emotional with one character learning he has become a dad and the war scene also brings a sense of emotions.

A winner of a film about a man’s transformation from mischievous to determined, Boetie Goes to the Border is a funny and at-times emotional satire that brings out the best in a pre-Mummy Arnold Vosloo. It is no wonder why he is one of the biggest exports to Hollywood as this is a great film to see why he is that good of an actor.

WFG RATING: B

A Parc Productions film. Director: Regardt van den Bergh. Producer: Philo Pieterse. Writers: Johan Coetzee and Cor Nortje. Cinematography: Desmond Burmeister. Editing: Valma Muir.

Cast: Arnold Vosloo, Eric Nobbs, Frank Opperman, Kerneels Coertzen, Janie du Plessis, Pagel Kruger, Blake Toerien, Christo Loots, Neels Engelbrecht, Rudi de Jager, Graham Clarke, Gys de Villiers, Jana Cilliers.

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