Low-key 'Cadence' delivers entertaining mix of drama and comedy

October 04, 1991|By Josh Mooney


'Republic Pictures Home Video


"Cadence," consistently enjoyable in its mix of drama and comedy, is the antithesis of blockbuster. It's a small-budget project, set primarily in an Army stockade, and care is paid to elements like character development and believable story line -- instead of battle scenes and bombing runs.

The setting is Europe, during the early days of the Vietnam War. Charlie Sheen plays a no-good American teen named Bean, who finds himself in the Army, though he seems more destined for jail. Sure enough, Bean gets in a drunken brawl and winds up in the stockade. Martin Sheen, who also directs, plays the commander, a ruthless, bigoted soldier who, we learn, is living in his own private nightmare. When Bean realizes that he's got to befriend the other prisoners in the stockade -- they're black, he's white -- he suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the commander.

Charlie Sheen has always been one of the most watchable of his generation of actors -- here, under dad's direction, he turns in a performance of subtle power, never overplaying it as so many young actors would. The film also features another in a long string of fine performances from Larry Fishburne as the intense leader of the black prisoners.

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