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Given Tom Selleck, Bess Armstrong, Wilford Brimley, Robert Morley, Brian Blessed, and Jack Weston, and a bunch of excellent aerial action scenes, this is a terrific film. So what if there isn't a great message, or outstanding drama. For what this is... a comedy-adventure... it's great. Tom and Bess have always been extremely watchable to me, and they continue that tradition here. A solid 9.
Today, when I bought a consumer DVD recorder, and went through a stack
of 300+ laserdiscs to dub some not-available-on-DVD-yet films for a
very long flight to London tomorrow, this was the second disc I dubbed
(Grand Prix was the first) and realized just how perfect a movie this
remains, even after 20 years. First off, the John Barry score is
first-rate; as someone else mentioned, the master took the easy way out
and simply revised it for Out of Africa a few years later (and it works
as well there as it does here).
I'm not sure what defines screen chemistry, but Selleck and Armstrong (one of my all-time favorite actresses) have it here. While there is conflict between their characters, it seems apparent to me that they are having a good time acting out this tightly scripted adventure/fantasy. The underlying sexual tension (again as someone else noted there's zero nudity here) between the two is palpable.
The aerial sequences stand up well over time; certainly better than the computer-generated crap that looks so fake (like Pearl Harbor) that passes for special effects today, will look in 2020.
While image quality of the laserdisc is certainly better than VHS, it falls short of what we've come to expect today, 10 years into the DVD era. Why this film hasn't made it into the 5-inch medium, with a cleaned up Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (to better showcase the John Barry score), is beyond me.
When one sees the utter dreck that is released today, scraping the bottom of the film vault barrel, it amazes me to wonder why this neglected gem sits in a vault somewhere. As there are no true A-list stars in this film filled with wonderful performances, why Warner Brothers, has this not been given a full bore DVD release? I wonder if it's available in some market outside of North America.
Clocking-in at a bit less than two hours, this is a movie in the mold of similar films produced in the immediate post-WWII era. I think that when I watch it on the plane Sunday, I might even watch it in black and white.
A great reason to keep you laserdisc player, watch auctions on eBay for this to pop up on LD and to buy a DVD recorder as this is a movie you can watch over and over and enjoy it each time.
Shame on you Warner Brothers for not putting it out on DVD.
Drama, funny, & veteran character actors out the kazoo. Robert Morley
(rest his soul) is great as the malicious bumbling nemesis, & Wilford
Brimley is letter-perfect as the eccentric good-guy geezer. Jack Weston
is stellar as sidekick, Brian Blessed is appropriately malevolent as
Suleman Khan, & Timothy Bateson is 1st-rate as Morley's sniveling
toady. All of this is overshadowed (but not over the top) by the
absolutely perfect chemistry between Selleck & Armstrong, though. Yeah,
sure, the conceit of the
snotty-rich-girl-drives-the-heart-of-gold-tough-guy-crazy love story
has been done to death, but never executed quite like this. These two
make an on-screen couple at the level of Bogey/Bacall, Fred/Ginger, &
Selleck's charisma normally dominates other actors' presence; Armstrong more than holds her own, which is saying a lot for any actress, much less one not on the A-list. The cinematography is exceptionally well-done. All in all, this is one seriously underrated flick, & a movie I'd buy in a heartbeat if it ever became available on DVD, which sadly I doubt it ever will. :(
While true that this movie isn't Academy Award material, it is very
enjoyable and touchingly romantic. The scenery is breathtaking at times
the film flows well. It starts in a party atmosphere and becomes a
adventure story. It is a good cross between a "Chick Flick" and an
story. I have flown open cockpit biplanes and perhaps that makes the film
even more enduring for me.
There is plenty of flying and small war skirmishes are smattered in with the search for a rich brat's father. She (Bess Armstrong as Eve Tozer) must find the father and get him to a British court before the deadline or she will lose all of her money. If the partner, Bentik, can have Bradley Tozer (Wilford Brimley) declared as dead in a British court then he gets the whole company; thus relieving Eve Tozer of the heaps of her fathers money. And it is about money that this girl lives for, or so it seems. She enlists the help of a derelict and decrepit old WW1 ace, Tom Selleck, who has the only two available airplanes to get her to her father in time. Assassins are employed by Bradley Tozers partner to keep him from being found adding more tension to the already danger filled trail.
While the romance angle is as predictable as it is in just about any film, the story does flow well and the scenery also helps to keep ones interest. Rent this one and settle down for some fun. I would rate this film as three out of four stars.
This is one of the best adventure films I've ever seen. Tom Selleck and
Armstrong are great and Jack Weston as Struts is hillarious.
It has some great scenes of the planes flying across country. And John Barry's music is excellent.
The story is simple: Rich woman (Armstrong) hires drunken pilot (Selleck) to fly her to China to find her missing father.
Meanwhile, people are trying to have her killed, and each stop they make along the way allows for a sideline adventure.
All in all, one of my favourite films, and a rare treat of a movie. They don't them like this any more. I wish it were available on DVD!
Brian G. Hutton's "High Road To China" is a classic example of good old fashioned chemistry. Lost-generation flapper hires boozy WW-I flying ace to help find her father, lost somewhere in China, to avoid losing her inheritance. You just know that they will eventually get together, and plenty of facial expressions and body language promise an ending that eventually delivers. Some great scenery and flying scenes, and burly he-manning from Brian Blessed, keep you in stitches. If this had been filmed in black and white in the 40s, it would have been up there with Casablanca, et al. Lots of low-expectation fun.
Unaccountably under-rated for years this film will eventually be appreciated for what it is -- a wry, often spectacular, often lyrical comedy-romance with great leads and brilliant character performers, accompanied by a score so ravishing Barry simply re-set it for Out Of Africa after the indifferent reception of this film. No doubt it suffered from being released in the wake of Raiders of the Lost Ark but the comparison is unfair, if not odious. High Road to China didn't compete with any others -- it had its own style, and it was gorgeous.
The best thing about "High Road to China" is that it does not try to
change the world by making a social statement. It does not try to do
anything but be an escape for moviegoers. Is it a perfect film? No. But
this is one of my favorite films because it does just that - it allows me to
escape. This much under-appreciated movie tells an excellent story: a rich
brat living in the Roaring 20's hires a flying ace to find her father in a
remote part of China. From a cinemagraphic point-of-view, it is a very
good-looking film. Bess Armstrong never looked better on screen. And
although her character of Eve Tozer is not always believable, I liked her as
the rich brat who thinks everything has its price. I was never a Tom
Selleck fan, but as Patrick O'Malley, he makes the perfect flying daredevil
- a hard drinker who has trouble showing that he has a heart. The late Jack
Weston, who was one of the better character actors of our modern times, is
perfectly cast as the sidekick mechanic Struts. And the late Robert Morley
provides good comic relief in the midst of being the heavy.
The movie simply looks good with its gorgeous locations and colors. The flying sequences - especially the dogfight between O'Malley and the German ace (complete with references to the famous Red Baron) is first-rate, and the battle scenes are shot very well. The pace of the film is not always even, but one sequence after another has our protagonists in some dire predicament. And it is fun watching them try and get out of each one. It should have done better at the box office, for the film is still a favorite of cable movie channels and people who discover it on video for the first time. I would recommend this film to anyone, because it is simply a little gem and a wonderful film for movie buffs who wish to escape.
For the purist, this movie may seem to be one in which the actors portray a "scripted" dialogue, when in fact if you read books written during the period following WWI you will find the exact same character of speech. In the 21st century men and women can learn a considerable amount when looking at the growing relationship between Armstrong and Selleck as well as the Warlord played by Brumley. The story line coupled with the filming techniques make this a remarkable movie and one you should add to your collection when it comes out on DVD. For those of us who love Selleck in all his characters his portrayal of a hard drinking, opinionated, barnstorming adventurer makes watching him interact with the spoiled, selfish and hardheaded heiress quite humorous and well worth watching again and again.
A drunk previous WWI pilot (Tom Selleck) and his underling (Jack
Weston) are contracted by a young heiress (Bess Armstrong) who must
encounter her dad before her contender (Robert Morley) takes over the
inheritance . They will face dangerous bandits (Brian Blessed) ,
numerous adventures and risks .
This exciting story gets an agreeable look and feeling to vintage adventures , exotic places , dastardly nasties and daring getaways than ever before . Packs enough action with explosion galore , especial aerial effects with impressive images of flight and dogfighting , comedy , tongue usefully in in its check , all that make it a cinematic roller coater ride . It's made like a classic's 30s-style adventure reminiscent of early serials and in the wake of ¨Raiders of the last ark¨ . Tom Selleck is a hard-drinking former air ace , he's a dashing and intrepid pilot , Bess Armstrong is perfectly cast as feisty heiress looking for his father , she's continuously irritated with the smooth talker and alcoholic adventurer . Both of whom play a special love story in a screwball-romance style . Besides , displaying spectacular images of Selleck and Armstrong gliding over extraordinary landscapes with musical background by John Barry , perhaps copied by Sidney Pollack in ¨Out of Africa¨ with the couple Redford and Meryl Streep , flying in similar plane and soundtrack . Regular cinematography by Ronnie Taylor filmed in Yugoslavia and England, the colors are worn-out, it's necessary an urgent remastering . The film was lavishly produced by Fred Weintraub and Raymond Chow , producers of ¨Operation Dragon¨ starred by Bruce Lee . This was 27th highest grossing film of 1983 at the American box-office . The picture was frequently perceived by the film-going public as being a knock-off to Raiders of the lost ark (1981) when in fact the film had been in development since the late 1970s .
The film was well handled and professionally directed by Brian G Hutton, however was a flop and failed to give cash . Hutton started his career with little and prestigious films , such as ¨Wild seed¨ and ¨The Pad¨. There after , he veered off into big budgeted and all-star movies, proving which he could handle big scale production , as ¨Where the eagles dare¨, one of the best from Alistair McLean , furthermore with ¨Kelly's heroes¨ added humor to the warlike action . His next picture was ¨High road to China¨ marked a partial return with panache to his previous form but faltered at the Box-office , in spite of being quite amusing and with occasional touch of directorial skill, for that reason is a must for adventure buffs .
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