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Return from the River Kwai (1989)

PG-13  |   |  War, Drama  |  14 April 1989 (UK)
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Ratings: 4.9/10 from 715 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 3 critic

A group of war prisoners from the Kwai bridge building camp undertake a harsh journey to Japan.



(book), (book), 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Seaman Miller
Lt. Commander Hunt
Lieutenant Tanaka
Paul Holm ...
Benford's Patient
Lieutenant Crawford (as Christopher Penn)
Ronnie Lazaro ...
Richard Graham ...
Sergeant Perry
Colonel Grayson
Anna Maria Tirol ...
Meo Girl
Andres Tepongco ...
Masato Nagamori ...
Lieutenant Yamashita
Pierre Valderon ...
Frenchman in Saigon
Patricia Edmondson ...
Lady in Saigon


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 its 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 (

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


War | Drama


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

14 April 1989 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

El regreso del río Kwai  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(as Dolby Stereo in selected theatres)


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Did You Know?


When this film was released in the United Kingdom, the movie carried a legal warning and disclaimer that it was not in no way related to or a sequel to the film The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). See more »


Follows The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) See more »


Rule Britannia
Music by Thomas Augustine Arne
Arranged by Lalo Schifrin
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User Reviews

Decent Entertainment for War Film Fans
26 February 2005 | by (Sydney Australia) – See all my reviews

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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