Ride With The Devil (1999) - War Movie Blog

1990s Ride With the Devil (1999)

Published on March 16th, 2013 | by Chris


Ride With The Devil (1999)

Movie directed by:
Ang Lee

Reviewed by:
On March 16, 2013
Last modified:February 25, 2013


An intimate and harrowing look at life on the frontier during the Civil War, and the events leading up to (and after) the infamous Quantrill's Raid.

Ride With the Devil (1999)Ride With The Devil leads us into the infamous Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence, Kansas during the Civil War, through the eyes of a band of "independent southerners," most notably one Jake Roedel (Tobey Maguire.)  Although the movie is less about that raid, as it is about the people, their life in the late 1800's, and the choices the war forces them to make.

Jake and his best friend Jack Bull (Skeet Ulrich) are defacto "southerners" living in Missouri, although Jake's German-national father takes the side of the Union, much to everyone's dismay, and to his ultimate downfall.  They become part of a band of "Bushwhackers"....  Essentially irregular soldiers fighting on the side of the Confederacy.  Their posse also includes George (Simon Baker), his "negro" Holt (Jeffrey Wright), "Black John" (Jim Caviezel), and "Pitt" Mackeson (Jonathan Rhys Meyers).

They wreak havoc among the operating Union troops, until the core of the group (Jake, Jack, Holt, and George) become separated and holed up for the winter.  They acquaint themselves with Sue Lee (Jewel Kilcher), and soon Jack and Sue Lee are defacto "involved" shall we say.

Jack is mortally wounded in another raid, and as George leaves to find help, they are forced to attempt to amputate Jack's arm in a rather nasty scene....  He does not survive, and Jake, Sue, and Holt take refuge in her former in-laws house until spring.

When spring arrives, they rejoin the Bushwhackers, and the buildup to the raid is on.  The raid itself was a terrible affair (see the link above)....   Leaving the town in ruins and over 200 people dead or wounded, mostly civilians.  Before, during, and after the raid, the animosity between Jake and Pitt builds, culminating in a battle-within-a-battle which leaves Jake and Holt wounded, and George dead.... effectively freeing Holt.  They return to the Evans farm to find Sue Lee has had Jack's baby....

During their convalescence at the farm.  Jake finds himself forced (but not really) to marry Sue Lee, and to essentially abandon the Bushwhacker cause and make a run for California, with Holt leaving for Texas to try and find his mother....

As I said, though, the movie really isn't about the war per se.  It's more about the conditions of life in "the territories" during that time.  The choices that had to be made, both in regards to allegiances, and the every day ones that were forced upon them.  The betrayals and losses that such a war brought about, and the at-times miracles that arose from it.

Even though I have a bit of a mean streak when it comes to Skeet, I have to say he did a fine job here, as did every one else.  Although Rhys Meyers I still don't particularly like, I think this sort of character suited him quite well.  Even if that sub-story line came to a rather anticlimactic end.  I guess to indicate that "all's fair in love and war" maybe, or maybe to just show that Jake's ready to move on and get on with his life.

The combat scenes, particularly the raid sequence and the subsequent retreat, are chaotic and violent.  Civilians are shot at point blank range and the full damage of those slow moving large caliber slugs is quite evident.

However, this is one of those films where everyone speaks as though they were inside a letter.  I don't know if people really would have spoken this way, especially a bunch of southern farmer types, but they all seem to have exquisite grammar and vocabularies, and eschew the use of contractions quite a bit.  Like I said, the end result is rather like reading a piece of correspondence.  I know as a kid *I* was taught to use such language when writing... but like I said sometimes it just seems unnatural.  Perhaps to hammer home the point of the time period?  Who knows.

Ride With The Devil really is a pretty good movie, based around, but not necessarily "about" the war itself.  At times difficult, but overall leaving with that satisfied sense of conclusion, that things turned out alright.  My final score is a 4.0/5.  You should really check this one out.

Ride with the Devil (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] Ride with the Devil (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
List Price: $27.99
Sale Price: $16.99
You save: $11.00 (39%)
  Eligible for free shipping!
Availability: Usually ships in 1-2 business days


Ride with the Devil follows four people fighting for truth & justice amidst the turmoil of the American Civil War. The action takes us to no man's land on the Missouri/Kansas border where a staunch loyalist (Ulrich), an immigrant's son (Maguire), a freed slave (Wright) and a young widow (Jewel) learn how to survive in a place without rules and redefine the meaning of bravery and honor.

DVD Information

Binding: Blu-ray
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Manufacturer: Criterion
Original Release Date:
  • Tobey Maguire
  • Skeet Ulrich
  • Jewel Kilcher
  • Jeremy W. Auman
  • Scott Sener


  • Factory sealed DVD


Customer reviews
Average Customer Review

3.0 out of 5 stars meh, it's okay, December 20, 2017
Matthew Snope (Decatur, GA United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Ride With the Devil (Amazon Video)
Ang Lee achieves some nice colors with the very vibrant tree leaves and grasses, but his vision of the story begins quite differently than the source novel. I also found the leading actors' 1990s alternative band haircuts distracting. I also cannot stand Jewel for various reasons. The story itself is interesting -- jayhawkers and bushwhackers (armies in the Civil War who were not exactly on one side or the other, showing that war is not the clean, cut and dry experience many think it is), and the attempt at historical re-creation is admirable, but I didn't buy the tale as authentically Southern somehow. A nice effort from Lee, who does very high quality work usually, but he seemed to try to make The Ice Storm meets Civil War, and I wasn't that crazy about the results.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

3.0 out of 5 stars Unable to finish due to 24 hour viewing window, December 24, 2017
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Ride With the Devil (Amazon Video)
Was a good movie, but I can only say it was okay because I was unable to finish watching it. I was not aware Amazon only gave 24 hours to watch the movie. It's rather long and I was working long hours and had to go to sleep. When I came home the next evening, Amazon wouldn't let me finish watching the movie and instead asked me to pay to watch it again [which I did not]. We really need a feature that can determine if paid content was watched in full.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I always liked this movie, January 31, 2017
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Ride With the Devil (Amazon Video)
I always liked this movie, & this expanded version is certainly the one to have. The Kansas/Missouri border war from 1861-65 was a vicious little war inside a war, where mercy on either side was seld
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Share your thoughts with other customers:
 See all 314 customer reviews...
Ride With The Devil (1999) Chris

Summary: An intimate and harrowing look at life on the frontier during the Civil War, and the events leading up to the infamous Quantrill's Raid.


User Rating: 1.5 (1 votes)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

I’ve been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I’ve been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.

One Response to Ride With The Devil (1999)

  1. I really liked this one, especially the chaotic violence and the willingness to show the harsh warfare between communities. The raid on Lawrence was especially brutal. I thought that it became a bit too much of a love story towards the end, but it’s still a very good film.

Leave a Reply

Back to Top ↑
  • Archives

  • Subscribe via E-mail!

    Get notifications, exclusive contests and offers, and more!
    * = required field
  • More War Movies

  • Recent Comments

  • Facebook