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In early 1945, 10000 Japanese Marines, fearing execution if they surrendered, took refuge within Manila's Intramuros ("walled city"), a fortress erected by the Spanish in the late 16th century, with 20 foot thickness all about, and during an eight day siege and artillery bombardment by American Army and Philippine freedom fighters, all 10000 of the Japanese Naval troops perished, along with 90000 others, civilians in the main whose home was the narrow passaged fort. This film, generally marketed in the U.S. as THE WALLS OF HELL, features sturdy Jock Mahoney as an American lieutenant in charge of a task force composed primarily of Philippine soldiers ensconced within the outskirts of Intramuros, who do battle continuously with the besieged, the incessant action interspersed with extraneous sub-plots and weakened by less than fine direction, production values and camerawork.
As the Japanese retreated in the Philippines some ten thousand Japanese
soldiers feared execution if they were to surrender, so they barricaded
them selves in Manila's Intramuros, or walled city, vowing to fight
until the last man(something they did do). The city was a fort built by
the Spanish and had twenty foot thick stone walls and was practically
impregnable from the ground. Unable to bomb the city from the air
because of an open city agreement about Manila, the Intramuros would
have to be taken using brute force.
The plot of the movie concerns an attempt by American lead Filipino soldiers to get into the city and rescue a group of hostages before the final attack. I'm not too sure as to how historically accurate the film is, but its a decent war film with pretty constant action. Indeed much of the final third of the film is one prolonged battle to rescue the hostages and once it starts it never lets up. I especially liked that the tunnels in and around the Intramuros added something to the battle scenes and made it something unique
The Americans are fronted by Jock Mahoney as a tough as nails soldier who has had to live with himself after attacking a Japanese convoy that was transporting his pregnant wife to the hospital. Frankly its a bland performance and it falls to the rest of the cast to carry the weight of the film. This is a good thing since they are all able actors and create a nice bunch of soldiers to root for (even if they are a tad clichéd).
I liked this movie a great deal. Its not perfect but it does what it does with out any real attempts to be anything more than a big war story. Certainly there are occasional drifts into clichéd territory, but the uniqueness of the story's setting makes it okay. If you're in the mood for a World War Two style film that you haven't seen before (literally since notes on the DVD say this film was largely unavailable for the better part of the last 30 years) I would certainly give this a try. As a friend of mine is fond of saying- definitely worth a box of popcorn.
In the early '60s, Filipino producers decided to tap the American
appetite for war stories with a series of lurid, low budget
black-and-white battle flicks that depicted various events from the
Second World War. THE WALLS OF HELL (original title: INTRAMUROS)
tackles a true-life tale in which 10,000 fanatical Japanese troops,
walled up within Manila, refuse to give up in the face of overwhelming
Despite the exciting premise, THE WALLS OF HELL turns out to be a disappointing movie and that's down to the indifferent direction and the lack of a real storyline. The film offers plenty of action, including a final third which is an all-out and incessant assault on the enemy, but too much of it is repetitive and undistinguished. The lack of real characters hurts it too; the imported American star is one-time Tarzan Jock Mahoney and Filipino film regular Fernando Poe Jr. shows up, but they're given little to do other than appear for face value alone.
I can't help but feel that directors Gerardo de Leon and Eddie Romero worked better when they went for all-out exploitation fare instead, such as the BLOOD ISLAND films. The results might have been equally shoddy, but at least they were more memorable than this bland and generic piece of filmmaking.
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