During the 1920s, French Foreign Legion Major William Foster's unit is protecting an archaeological dig but the discovery of an Arab sacred burial site prompts the angry Arab tribes to attack Foster's small garrison.
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Foreign Legion Major Foster (Hackman), an American haunted by his memories of the recently-ended Great War, is assigned to protect a group of archaeologists at their dig. Foster's unit includes the charming, thieving rascal Marco (Hill), who joined the Legion only to avoid prison. After long stretches portraying the boredom and hardship of day-to-day life in the Legion, Foster's command occupies a small village where the archaeologists believe they've found a burial site sacred to the Arabs. An Arab leader (Holm) uses this affront to unite the tribes in Jihad, and attacks the tiny Legion garrison at the dig. An epic battle follows, very reminiscent of the film "Zulu". Costumes, firearms, and props are all very authentic-looking, and show great attention to detail. Written by
Cameron Fairchild <email@example.com>
El Krim is based on the Moroccan revolutionary Abd el-Krim (1882-1963), the leader of a large-scale armed resistance movement in the Rif, a Berber area of north-eastern Morocco. See more »
The Legion uses French military equipment and customs. Yet in one scene, when the new recruits are awakened one morning, an American bugle call (reveille) is used. See more »
Maj. William Sherman Foster:
[Recounting bits of his past, in a somewhat rambling manner, to a prostitute who has been sent to his room]
I was in Morocco for 12 years. Do you know what a trench is? I dug trenches all over Europe. I ate in them, and I slept in them... I should have been a general in the U.S. Army. I was named after a general - - William Sherman... The Legion is my army now. Not the *vaunted* army of America - those bastards threw me out. All I did was tell them what I thought of them.
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Good Early Effort From Bruckheimer . Could Have Been Slightly Better
Immediately after the Great War 1914-18 Major Foster an American born officer in the French Foreign Legion . A disillusioned man who has seen more than enough of the horrors of war , Foster looks forward to more peaceful times only to hear of a spreading insurrection led by El Krim , a Beeber warlord who wants to liberate Morroco from French rule and Foster is sent to put down the insurrection
This is an early production from Jerry Bruckheimer who in the 1980s went on to be the most successful commercial film producer in Hollywood . His films included BEVERLEY HILLS COP , FLASHDANCE and TOP GUN . His films were rarely a hit with critics but what he was very good at was mixing aspects to gain maximum publicity for movies and fill multiplexes . Who can forget Eddie Murphy driving along LA with The Heat Is On blasting out in the foreground or or boys and girls flocking to the cinema in equal numbers to see Tom Cruise fall in love and shoot down enemy jets after which the audience would buy the official soundtrack album . Studios are only interested in profit margins and if a film makes a ton of money then who cares if it didn't win an Oscar ? You have to admit Bruckheimer was always excellent at whta he did
MARCH OR DIE shows early signs at what the producer was trying to achieve - make a film that would appeal to the action adventure market while still appealing to critics . It's interesting during this early period of his career Bruckheimer still might have wanted to win an Oscar for Best Film . THE CULPEPPER CATTLE CO. and FAREWELL MY LOVELY both directed by Dick Richards are two very impressive films from The New Hollywood period and you can see in this film a mix of character exploration and big battle action sequences
The problem is that it doesn't quite come off . You can see Gene Hackman, Major Foster as a tortured man with ghosts from the past realising the only way to lay his demons to rest is via Catherine Deneuve's Mme Picard but the film concentrate too much on Terence Hill's Marco to make this possible . Hill effectively plays the comic acrobatic character which he was best known for in the Italian Westerns alongside Bud Spencer and Marco - unlike Foster - never comes across as a real life character . Likewise the rest of the characters who join the Legion are entirely one dimensional clichés
Two things that do work is firstly El Krim the noble but superstitious leader . In 1977 the average Westerner would have little reaction to the word " Muslim " one way or another . Certainly El Krim is the villain of the story but he's written and played by Iah Holm as someone who fears progress rather than someone who just wants to slaughter Infidels . You wouldn't get a Muslim baddie like this in a movie nowadays . Secondly the long awaited battle sequence when it does come certainly doesn't disappoint
In summary MARCH OR DIE is a historical epic that that tries to appeal to everyone at the same time while never consistently appealing to anyone . That said is rather impressive in parts but you do feel slightly upset that the movies can't sustain it over the whole course of the movie and it does contain a lot of dross
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