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A group of war prisoners has spilt blood, sweat and tears to construct a bridge over the river Kwai in Thailand. Just when the bridge is ready, an American bomber arrives and destroys it. Camp commander Tanaka wants to set an example and orders that some of the prisoners must be executed. Just in time major Harada arrives with orders that the healthiest prisoners must be transported to Japan by train and boat. A treacherous journey since the allied forces keep a close eye on railroads and practically own the seas. The prisoners are thinking of plans to escape. Meanwhile the American bomber has been shot down and it's pilot, Leyland Crawford, is being rescued by the indigenous people, the Meo. The Meo have formed a resistance group against the Japanese, led by the British colonel Grayson. Written by
Arnoud Tiele (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Though a far cry from the David Lean classic, I thought this film offered reasonable entertainment for anyone with a passing interest in war films. Admittedly, there is not a great deal to say critically in the film's favour, but I think the current voter average is a little too harsh.
The film does suffer from a large dollop of poor acting, a sometimes inane and amateurish script, and often allows itself to become bogged down in clichés. The stilted and often unimaginative direction makes the film seem like a television show. However, at times the director allows the film to shine with some snappy and economical moments. The music is by the great Lalo Schifrin, and though not one of his best works (a little too simplistic and drenched in military cliché) it is quite catchy. But the special effects are too lacklustre to make the action sequences truly exciting.
However, Return from the River Kwai does have at least an interesting premise, and a decent screenplay which helps carry the story well. The on location shooting makes the settings look authentic, and the costumes are fairly decent. The film offers more than enough thrills and spills to keep you amused on a rainy afternoon. And of course it is great to see the always dependable George Takei and Edward Fox, as well as the lovable, late-great, Denholm Elliot on screen.
By no stretch a great movie, but one I am content to pass the time with. I do wish that television stations would program a movie like this for a daytime matinée instead of that made-for-television rubbish about some murderer in Mid-West America. Return from the River Kwai is a much better effort than those kind of movies, and it offers good, simple, lunchtime fare. At least a 5/10.
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