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They had the makings of a good movie here. A group of soldiers are taken out to a jungle camp for a rigorous P.O.W. survival course, but instead of a "controlled" experiment, they begin to suspect that the camp's commander has gone "over the edge" and is turning the experiment into a deadly reality. However, the premise is muddled by adding a female soldier to the mix, a choice which seems gimmicky and which throws off-balance the rest of the plot. (Ironically, the female angle is probably what "sold" the idea to the studio.) Some viewers may enjoy the male-bondage scenes but it's sad to read that the actor who plays Ripkin and is memorably shown tied bare-chested to a X-shaped cross committed suicide in 2001. Anthony Zerbe, America's answer to Frank Thring, is unimaginatively cast as the villain. And yes, the movie seriously weakens in the last 10 minutes.
The veteran Major Logan (Tom Skerritt), Lieutenant Casey (Lisa
Eichhorn) and a group of selected Air Force pilots go to an isolated
island for training for prisoner of war. The team jumps out of the
plane using parachute and they are captured in the island and sent to a
camp under the direction of Commander Becker (Anthony Zerbe) and
Sergeant Stafford (Richard Roundtree). Each pilot is submitted to
torture and humiliation in very realistic situation, but pilot Botts
(Robert Wightman) is selected as a kind of example of humiliation to
the other prisoners. Becker unsuccessfully tries to convince the tough
Lieutenant Casey to give up the training since he is not prepared to
have a woman but she does not accept the request. When Logan learns
that Becker raped Casey during the night, he realizes that Becker is
insane and the training has become reality. Now Logan, Casey and Botts
have to fight to survive.
"Opposing Force", a.k.a. "Hellcamp", is a full of action film about a group of elite soldiers that discover that their training is for real since the commander is insane. In 1986, this storyline seemed to be impossible, but in the present days the news informs many cases of accidents in realistic military training. Who knows? My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "Força Oposta" ("Opposing Force")
Zerbe scares the sh*t out of me again! Seriously, this guy plays
menacing like few can. Not just a mindless hunter type of fear...his
villains are cunning, his gaze unsettles and his smile sends shivers
down your spine. This movie makes me cringe with his sadistic portrayal
of Becker. A man who convinces himself that his actions toward the
female prisoner are for her own good. He justifies everything he does
to her and never seems to realize that he is doing these things because
he wants to. That is frightening to watch.
Roundtree's character is disappointing. Too weak for a big man like him to play. He is, in essence, the Nazi, just following orders even though he knows they are wrong. By the time he wakes up to his cowardice, it is too late. But in the same vein as Zerbe's character, the tormentors have rationalized their actions, and as history shows us, this seems to be how these things play out. People under control, looking weak, held by people in authority who start abusing their power over them. I've seen the Iraq example given several times, or Gitmo. It is a fair comparison...so is the Nazi model.
OPPOSING FORCE, better represented by its original title, HELLCAMP, draws its inspiration from THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME/ZARKOFF'S HOUNDS, and in turn clearly served as inspiration for G.I. JANE. Major Tom Skerritt joins a band of young elite soldiers, including a female (Lisa Eichorn), who are sent to a remote island for special training. They are quickly caught by soldiers stationed on the island and subjected to all sorts of realistic POW conditions: minimal food, frequent beatings, mind games, isolation units, forced marches and even waterboarding. No one breaks, least of all Eichorn, which infuriates the base commandant (Anthony Zerbe) who by his own admission has been on the island too long. He cracks under the strain and instead of ending the "exercise," ups the torture quotient, zapping Skerritt with electricity and raping Eichhorn. Zerbe's sergeant, played by Richard Roundtree, stands by and does nothing about any of this. Zerbe then sends Skerritt off into the jungle, pursued by his evil Asian henchman, played by steely-eyed George Cheung. Skerritt quickly turns the tables on the bad guys and pretty soon, it's all-out war between Zerbe's and Skerritt's men. Skerritt is terrific as always, and Eichorn play a proud and determined soldier who shows she can hold her own against the enemy. The film is quite graphic and contains large dollops of nudity and deaths. Full of unexpected twists and turns, HELLCAMP is well worth your time.
This film was not that bad. It was a action movie but it was about a US GOVERMENT P.O.W./PSYOPS prisoner of war camp where the commandant goes crazy and the games turn real. This was a interesting premise that unfortunately had a RAMBO finish. it was a good HBO/straight to video movie. The program is to train downed pilots on escape evasion tactics and how to survive in a mocck up in a simulated SOVIET/communist POW camp. Things get nasty when the vicious commander played by ANTHONY ZERBE takes forceful liberties with a woman pilot. Then there is a escape and several gun battles. This film was inventive on it's low budget and well filmed. However, it could have gone for a more FIRST BLOODISH approach to filmmaking.
"Opposing Force " wasn't as good as "Dr. Strangelove" and it wasn't as
good as "The Bridge on the River Kwai". Heck, it wasn't even as good as
"G.I. Jane", which is pretty sad.
The film revolves around a basic ethical problem: In a simulated prisoner-of-war situation, how far can you go before you start breaking the law? What exactly IS the law in such a situation? How can you simulate the torture of someone without actually torturing someone? Can you intentionally inflict pain? How about breaking bones? Mock executions? Sexual abuse? Severe blood loss? Real guns with bullets? Death? Somewhere between these is a really fuzzy line dividing "acceptable" from "atrocious".
Now, what could you do if you found yourself in such a training program and the lines between simulation and reality begin to vanish? What could you do? This movie attempts to portray this dilemma.
I found it interesting to see the types of tactics used in "resistance training". I have a brother who went through the USAF's POW training program. According to him, it was pretty close to the mark technically.
The film has a fairly good premise, but it doesn't have a particularly good story. I wondered if it might be based on some actual event, but it became pretty apparent that it wasn't when the explosions started. They must have changed scriptwriters three quarters into the film, because it takes a real extreme turn and devolves into a somewhat pointless shoot-em-up with lots of distracting explosions.
I found it to have a rather unsatisfying ending; again, kind of pointless. I'm left wondering what the point of the whole thing was - I'm beginning to suspect there simply wasn't one. It could have been much better with just a little more story to go along with the fireworks.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
**SPOILER ALERT** Almost unknown little action movie that's some twenty
years ahead of its time in showing the public how prisoners are treated
in an enemy or allied POW camp.
In conditioning a group US servicemen and one woman to the rigors of prison life their not only tortured and humiliated by their captors but water-boarded and driven almost insane with ear-splitting sounds and music to deprive them of their sleep. These are the very same tactics we read about and see in both todays newspapers and on TV. Tactics that are being imposed on enemy combatants in both Gitmo-Guantanamo-and Abu Ghraib prison by the US military and CIA.
The group of US Military volunteers going under this inhuman and degrading treatment by Cpt. Becker, Anthony Zerbe, didn't know just what they were in for. It's that the Captain was not only an egomaniac but a psychotic as well. Brutally breaking down the helpless prisoners Becker found the only woman among them Lt. Casey, Lisa Eichhorn, a real challenge for him. In that Casey was by far the toughest of the bunch of POW he was in charge of.
After failing in everything he and his men could do to brake the plucky young womens will Capt. Becker came up with this "brilliant" idea of having Lt. Casey raped like in a real held by the enemy prisoner scenario with him of course doing the raping! When this got out to those fellow POW's who were imprisoned with Lt. Casey it lead to a prison uprising that sent Capt. Backer and his tin pot dictatorship, or Becker's World as he liked to call it, blowing up in his, and his fellow goons, face!
The passive prisoners lead by Major Logan, Tom Skerritt, took control of the prison, or Camp Becker, as Becker's men were out in the jungle looking for Major Logan. It was Major Logan who escaped and killed one of Becker's goons, Tuang played by George Chenug, earlier in the film.
Lt. Casey who despite all she went through by being raped beaten and humiliated by Becker and his men refused to break under the pressure. Left for days standing up in a "tiger cage" Lt. Casey, reused by Logan, still refused preferential treatment and went out in the unfriendly jungle to take on Becker and his men. Casey did this literally, she almost lost her right arm from a blast from a M-16, singlehandedly!
Besides the usual blood & Guts action scenes, that happened in the last fifteen minutes of the movie, it was without a doubt Lsia Eichhorn's portrayal of the gusty Lt. Casey that made the movie "Opposing Force" worth watching. Lt. Casey's courage wasn't in her, at the end of the film, Rambo-style ability to take on and defeat Capt. Becker and his men at their own game. It was her courage and determination to take everything Becker & Co. could dish out at her and refuse to break under it and still end up being he last man or in Lt. Casey's case woman standing!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Lisa Eichhorn does some quite good work here, her emotional responses to the (SPOILER AHEAD) rape. Rape is always a tough thing for a movie to tackle, as the visceral horror is just too close for comfort. This scene, like most others I've seen, are a little hard to watch. However, I just never found her all that believable as an Air Force officer. Tom Skerritt was his usual journeyman, quality, believable work without flashiness. This one has a number of obvious plot holes, but then I guess there wouldn't be much to have a movie about otherwise. I found it somewhat timely now that we seem to regularly have women captured in wartime. I think we need to have a national dialogue on whether this is acceptable, rather than sweeping under the rug the fact that we ask young women to run the risk of sexual torture. I accept a fair amount of the original feminist agenda, but I think this goes too far. In my opinion, (oink, oink) women are just too important to waste in war. As to the movie, Grade: C-
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The basic story line has been reviewed by nearly all the others, so I'll more or less skip that. But it is an interesting concept. It deals with the training of military personnel to deal with becoming a prisoner of war. Escape and evasion, refusing to answer questions even under the threat of torture and basic survival under primitive circumstances are all covered in this syllabus. When the film was made, the US had no women working anywhere near a combat area, but of course, that has now changed. With women now in combat situations, and having already had a couple of them become POW's, the question becomes how the heck to train them for possible capture? I'm not suggesting that POW training include rape or even stripping of the POW, but males going through the course are routinely stripped of every stitch of clothing. Should women be treated any differently? No....and yes. If the military gives the green light to clothing deprivation for female POW's, I believe that the captors would spend their time ogling naked women who were, (they'd think) put there for their enjoyment. It's a very sticky question, and one that is bound to arise. So far, the real captors of US women haven't sexually molested them, but it's only a matter of time. Recently, Americans have been accused of sexual torment of Iraqi POW's, not including rape. But had there been some female POW's who knows what might have happened. This film brings that question into specific relief and begs to be answered. Time will tell. It IS ironic that this film, so topical now, was made a while back!
A group of soldiers, including one woman, go on a training exercise on an island where they are hunted down and captured by sadistic Anthony Zerbe and his troops. Things get out of control and Zerbe subjects his prisoners to abuse and torture. What starts out as a decent idea for a military action-thriller turns into an exploitation flick that isn't much fun. Tom Skerritt is the only one of the good guys with any kind of personality, though he does little with it. Lisa Eichhorn is dull as dishwater. Richard Roundtree is wasted. Anthony Zerbe's performance is the whole show. If this had been made by Cannon, perhaps it would have been a little more fun. Still, it's watchable throughout. I was never bored. Ending sucks, though.
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