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Seven women from different backgrounds, nationality, age, class, and marital status find themselves in New Guinea, February 1942 - when the Japanese army takes over unexpectedly, and sends them into a war camp in the jungle.
Robert D. Webb
George Bernard Shaw once referred to Puccini's Tosca as that "shabby little shocker." That's an apt description for this Vietnam war film written and directed by James Clavell. Every manner of atrocity is committed in this unredeemable mess: garroting, rape, human boiling, crucifixion, pick-ax murder, and of course point blank shooting. Sure, it's a bloody war, but Clavell goes for the obvious sensational effect, without meaningful human values, much in the same way we've seen more recently in slasher pics.
Clavell manages to elicit terrible performances from his usually-commendable team of actors. Patricia Owens as a cynical nurse and Shirley Knight as a sanctimonious nun win the awards for bad acting against fierce competition. And for all the murders he commits, the usually tough Neville Brand is surprisingly innocuous, although it doesn't help that he's forced to play a Vietnamese leader. Greta Chi gives the best performance; doesn't that say it all?
There's some consolation at the end of the film when the women take arms against their captors. It's rather cathartic, I have to admit. But for sheer unpleasantness for most of its running time, this is a movie to avoid.
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