The independently produced Chocolate War marked actor Keith Gordon's directorial debut. Adapted from the popular novel by Robert Cormier (I Am the Cheese), it functions as a political allegory set in a curricular context, in the same vein as Rene Daalder's Massacre at Central High (1976). In War, Ilan Mitchell-Smith plays Jerry, a new enrollee at the exclusive Catholic prep school St. Trinity. He attempts to fit in by joining the football team, but immediately runs head-first into Brother Leon (John Glover), a ruthless academician striving for a promotion to headmaster, and The Vigils, a underground student gang that wields a massive amount of power within the school. The abusive Leon attempts to goad as many students as possible into selling chocolates for the school fundraiser, but Vigil leader Archie (Wally Ward) has Jerry publicly refuse to sell any for ten days, as one of the annual 'hazing' rituals that the Vigils dole out to freshman enrollees. Jerry agrees, which turns him into a rebel hero among his fellow students, but he then extends his refusal beyond the week-and-a-half limit imposed by Archie, which puts him head-to-head with both Leon and the Vigils. However, instead of turning into an underdog story at that point, The Chocolate War remains realistic and cynical.
~ Nathan Southern, Rovi