During the Vietnam War, Colonel Hambleton's aircraft is shot down over enemy territory and a frantic rescue operation ensues.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Captain Bartholomew Clark
...
Colonel George Walker
...
Ross Carver
...
Sgt. Harley Rumbaugh
...
Major Jake Scott
Joe Dorsey ...
Colonel Douglass
Michael Ng ...
Vietnamese Man (as Rev. Michael Ng)
Theodore Chan Woei-Shyong ...
Boy on Bridge
...
Helicopter Crew
Scott Howell ...
Helicopter Crew
Michael Raden ...
Helicopter Crew
Timothy Fitzgerald ...
EB-66 Officer
Stuart B. Hagen ...
EB-66 Officer (as Stuart Hagen)
Jeffrey Baxter ...
Helicopter Gunner (as Jeff Baxter)
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Storyline

Lt. Col. Iceal "Ham" Hambleton is a weapons countermeasures expert and when his aircraft is shot over enemy territory the Air Force very much wants to get him back. Hambleton knows the area he's in is going to be carpet-bombed but a temporary shortage of helicopters causes a delay. Working with an Air Force reconnaissance pilot, Capt. Bartholomew Clark, he maps out an escape route based on golf courses he has played. Along the way however, he has to face enemy forces and the death of some of his fellow soldiers. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Trapped behind enemy lines. A whole army after him... And only one man can save him.

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 October 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bat 21  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Gross:

$3,966,256 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, "Gene" Hambleton commanded the 57first Missile Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base from 1965 to 1971. He is better known as by his tactical radio call-sign, "Bat 21", he used in Vietnam when he was shot down in 1972 while jamming enemy radar, and parachuted behind enemy lines. When on the ground Col Hambleton found himself in the midst of an invasion force of over 30,000 North Vietnamese troops. While evading capture for eleven days he used his survival radio to call in air strikes against the invasion force. Rescue crews gave him coded instructions for where to go to be rescued based on golf course that he had played at different air force bases. Hambleton's harrowing ordeal was recounted in the book Bat 21 (1980), which was made into a movie of the same name in 1988. He died from cancer on September 19 2004 at age 85. See more »

Goofs

During the scene when they are bombing the village where the Jolly Green crashes, the shadow of the UH-1N flying overhead is obviously the shadow of a Bell Jet Ranger camera platform. See more »

Quotes

Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton: Bird Dog, I killed a man today. He wasn't even a soldier; he just kept coming. I couldn't stop him. I didn't want to do it. I never had to do anything like that before in my life.
Capt. Bartholomew Clark: Listen here, Bat 21. I never met you, but you don't sound like a killer to me. I'm sure you couldn't stop it from happening.
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User Reviews

A well-made Vietnam movie but ...
15 February 2002 | by (UK & Germany) – See all my reviews

.... this was supposed to be a "true" story, so why not tell it as it really happened? Of course, there are always budget restraints and other considerations that come into play. But I can never quite work out why Hollywood changes crucial facts of a real story when making "true-life" movies of this type. Don't get me wrong - I saw this movie for the first time just last week, a full 13 years after it first appeared, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It didn't glorify war at all, and some of the scenes were quite shocking and moving. However, having read the TRUE story of BAT 21 some years ago, I couldn't help thinking "hang on a minute - it didn't happen like that!!!" In reality, the actual 1972 mission to rescue Lt. Col. Hambleton was a very complex affair that lasted for 12 days, the downed airman finally being rescued by a two-man team consisting of a US Navy SEAL lieutenant (who won the Medal Of Honour in the process) and a South Vietnamese Army Ranger. Why not include this in the movie if you're out to tell anything like the true story? Also, several US aircraft and choppers were shot down in the process, with 10 American airmen killed and two more captured. But apart from the superbly done abortive helicopter rescue attempt and the shooting of the captured crewmen, the movie led us to believe that the rescue mission merely consisted of Hambleton (Hackman) escaping & evading on the ground with Clark (Danny Glover) circling above and talking to him on the radio. In reality, Clark was himself shot down early in the mission and had to be rescued, and his role in the actual Hambleton rescue was therefore nothing like that depicted in the film.

But, that said, why let the truth get in the way of a good story? And despite its shortcomings on the historical accuracy front, this was a thoroughly enjoyable film that didn't gloss over or sanitize the horrors of war. Despite my nit-picking, I'd definitely recommend it.


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