IMDb > Return from the River Kwai (1989) > Reviews & Ratings - IMDb
Return from the River Kwai
Quicklinks
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
Overview
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guidemessage board
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
Promotional
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

Reviews & Ratings for
Return from the River Kwai More at IMDbPro »

Filter: Hide Spoilers:
Page 1 of 2:[1] [2] [Next]
Index 15 reviews in total 

10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Decent Entertainment for War Film Fans

6/10
Author: gus81 from Sydney Australia
26 February 2005

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.

Was the above review useful to you?

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Mediocre follow-up from immortal film realized with low budget

5/10
Author: ma-cortes
19 October 2008

By summer 1943on the Asian mainland, Japanese troops had overrun much of the southeast Asia. They had conquered what is now Malasya and Burma. The British defenders and their allied had retreated north and west into India. The bridge of the River Kwai was placed on the so-called ¨Burma road¨stretched north from the Burmese , Rangoon, into southern China, It combined a railroad with a winding track through the high mountains near the Chinese border . There had many valuable natural resources, including large large oil fields, and Japan's victory in 1942 cut off the only land route into China from outside. The mountain and jungle of Burma were some of the most demanding environments for fighting in the whole war. Burma and Thailand was strategically valuable, however , it guarded the supply routes to China where were a million Japanese troops, but in such a huge country even that number could not win a decisive victory over the Allied. In Thailand working for building a bridge over the River Kwai were a group of war prisoners, mostly Australian and Brits, Maj. Benford(Edward Fox),Cmdr Hunt(Nick Tate),Seaman Miller(Timothy Bottoms) among others, under rigid orders of camp of concentration's commandant Tanaka(George Takei). Cruel conditions in the concentration camp make life very difficult and the climate also had a significant impact on the prisoners. Meantime the bridge is bombing by American aircraft piloted by lieutenant Crawford(Chris Penn, recently deceased), but he's gunned down ,being picked up by the Meo,an indigenous tribe. The Meo have created a resistance group commanded by British colonel Grayson(Demholm Elliott).Then the convicts find many dangerous as they are transported by rail and later shipped by sea to serve as slave workers. As they pass throughout several places and cities,Nonh Penh, Saigon until embark into a freighter, but an Allied submarine sight the ship..

The film is following from classic'Bridge on the river Kwai¨and starts where the original terminated with the explosion of the bridge. It's an inferior version and made in a television style. The motion picture is based on true events written by Clay and Joan Blair. The picture is middling directed by Andrew V. McLagen, Victor McLagen's son.

Was the above review useful to you?

11 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

I wonder why it never got released in the US?

6/10
Author: Michael A. Martinez (aylmer666@juno.com) from Los Angeles, CA
16 February 2003

I just recently had the tawdry task of sitting through the Japanese version of this film, with all the English dialog subtitled in Japanese and all the Japanese dialog (and there is a lot of it) not subtitled, so admittedly I couldn't tell 100% exactly what was going on the whole time.

The film begins well, reminding me of an episode of "Black Sheep Squadron" with George Takei kicking around a band of misfit G.I.'s in Burma while they're constantly under attack by Allied planes. There's some good action sequences at this point, a staple of any of Andrew V. McLaglen's war films, but around the halfway mark the action dies down and it turns into a pretty dull movie about prisoners being escorted back to Japan. The climactic mutiny aboard the Japanese freighter and battle between a gunboat and an American submarine is just plain silly.

Chris Penn is totally useless this time around, and the subplot involving him and Denholm Elliott sneaking around behind enemy lines does nothing but distract us from the real story of all the prisoners. Edward Fox and Timothy Bottoms both come across as somewhat underused, but most of the Japanese cast, especially Tatsuya Nakadai (a Kurosawa regular), come off pretty well.

Overall this film comes across little more than an average TV war movie with minor action sequences, some better-than-average photography and special effects, but with a dull and meandering padded storyline. It's pretty dull, but the movie is decent enough to at least warrant some US distribution at some point in time.

Though RETURN FROM THE RIVER KWAI is not exactly terrible, this is a fairly unmemorable dud, and totally useless as a sequel to an undeniably great film.

Was the above review useful to you?

5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely no relation to "Bridge on the River Qwai" except to cash in 20 years down the road

3/10
Author: hippyhorn69-1 from Ellington Village, Northumberland, United Kingdom
24 May 2008

A very average little war movie with no relation to the original "Bridge on the River Kwai" other than in name and a brief bit at the start. It's just a pure latter-day cash-in on the name of the original in fact.

The cinematography is decent and the colours are very good. A few sparklies are evident in the very dark scenes but with a decent sound free from any unwanted hiss or crackle the overall quality is pretty good.

As a bonus I found a few nice pseudo-surround effects using my Yamaha digital sound projector so I can't complain about anything other than the story.

Oh it's not quite family viewing by the way, containing as it does a few "bastards" and one "piss off" (for which the orator was beheaded with a sword by the Japanese officer to whom the remark was addressed).

My aged parents with whom I watched it on one of their weekly visits were not impressed though I thought it was an absolute hoot.

I nearly forgot to mention that there is a serious anomaly about 47 minutes into the film (which I'll submit for inclusion on the database).

The POWs are travelling by a rather ancient and decrepit train along a single-track equally decrepit jungle railway to their destination, housed in horrid old wooden box-car like trucks. At this mid-point we see a view of the train with colourful contemporary main-line passenger coaches, which look rather nice and comfortable and are certainly not made of wood. The film then reverts to the wooden box cars.

Was the above review useful to you?

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

POW life 'lite'

3/10
Author: Christopher Bentley from Belper, Derbyshire, England
9 May 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was one of the late-night films on last night's TV and having seen it I was wondering if there were some pretty dodgy reviews on IMDb.com. Although there were some fairly gritty scenes I could not 'escape' the feeling that years of internment in a Japanese POW camp had left many of the prisoners in remarkably good shape, thrown into sharp relief when the viewer was confronted by a dysentery case on board the vessel taking the prisoners to Japan, who looked rather more like one would ordinarily have expected the rest to have looked.

The production and acting were workmanlike enough for an at-heart TV movie and passed the time, but little more than that. However, it was only at the very end (at risk of spoilers!) that I had one of those 'they must have run out of film or something' moments which often is a pointer of a pretty below-average movie.

That said it did raise some moral dilemmas that would have happened in reality, so it wasn't quite 'dreadful', even though it ran quite close to it.

Was the above review useful to you?

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Mickey Mouse creeps to the Kwai

3/10
Author: drystyx from United States
16 November 2012

If the old guard and war purists thought the epic Guiness-Holden-Hawkins war film was unreal, they'd reconsider that film as being totally credible when compared to this.

One wouldn't think that a film made in 1989 would be devoid of realism in war. The seventies preached "realism", though refused to deliver it, instead trying to con audiences with tawdry, depressing scenes just to be under budget, then claim it was "realism". Nope, Then the eighties came, and producers couldn't get away from the heckling of the literate public, who saw through their con jobs.

However, "Reality" in war was still preached, only now not as contrived for bullets to find only likable characters.

Which makes this Mickey Mouse adventure a puzzle, and makes it even more embarrassing. By 1989, I guarantee you that three out of four people knew the POWs in Japanese camps were beyond malnutrition, and incapable of swinging an axe, let alone taking a knife and thrusting it into guard.

Overcoming Japanese soldiers is so rampant here, that it borders on comedy. True, in "Bataan" American soldiers led by Robert Taylor made a mockery of the enemy, but old timers form the era told me that it wasn't far off the truth, because American soldiers were nourished and strong, and of the Japanese, only the leading Samurai got more than a handful of rice a day. The Japanese soldier was weak from severe hunger.

However, while the soldier was weak from hunger, and mean from hunger, he wasn't in the horrid condition the POW was in.

This movie has POWs that make the POWs in Lean's epic look like skin and bones.

That said, a movie can still be "watchable". This one is slightly "watchable", but don't expect much. In the end, it's pretty much a waste of time, but it doesn't leave you depressed. Just look at it as Bugs Bunny outwitting Elmer Fudd again, or Mickey Mouse squeaking along at the river Kwai.

Was the above review useful to you?

4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Abysmal

2/10
Author: screenman from United Kingdom
13 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was a belated attempt to cash-in on the monumental and fully deserved success of 'The Bridge On The River Kwai'. So good was the original that even an advertisement for pile-dressing that contained the words 'River Kwai' could be sure of a substantial, if uncomfortable market.

But as a piece of cinema, this 'sequel' is shamefully inept in every way; quite literally tripe on a spool. The inclusion of two or three British character stalwarts like Denholm Elliot merely emphasises its comprehensive wretchedness rather than raising its status a notch.

I have to say, in response to another commentator, that being involved in its production is - like a dose of syphilis or a conviction for indecent exposure - not something one should mention in public. Quite the contrary; one's accidental exclusion from the credits should rank as extremely fortuitous.

Cherish the original as the Oscar-winning classic that it is. Don't even bother to read the blurb on the DVD box containing this tripe. Better to watch paint dry.

Was the above review useful to you?

10 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Quite silly

3/10
Author: martin_humble from Stockholm, Sweden
14 November 2001

This World War 2 drama do not succeed in almost anything.The story is set in 1945, Americans and English are situated as prisoners at a Japanese POW camp at the river Kwai in Thailand. They are ordered to transfer to Japan. Can they escape before they reach Japan?

Edward Fox is good as usual and so are many of the supporting actors but this is no use when Christopher Penn massacre the movie with real bad acting. The manuscript is full with flaws and most of the Japanese soldiers are pictured as stereotype as usual. Some parts is amusing or exciting but not enough to help this film. I cannot recommend it at all.

Was the above review useful to you?

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Return from the River Kwai

4/10
Author: Jackson Booth-Millard from United Kingdom
27 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a quality war film from director Sir David Lean and starring the Oscar winning Sir Alec Guinness, I'm not sure you can call this follow up a sequel, but it does almost continue the story, from director Andrew V. McLaglen (Shenandoah). Basically it has been two years since the bridge over the River Kwai in Thailand was destroyed, and now, still World War II, a new one has been built by a new group of PoW (Prisoner of War) soldiers. Soon enough though it is destroyed after the arrival of an American bomber, and camp commander Lieutenant Tanaka (Star Trek's George Takei) threatens to execute the ones who helped do it, but the prisoners are saved by Major Harada (Tatsuya Nakadai) who transports them by train and boat to Japan. It is difficult journey with allied forces keeping an eye on the transportation routes, the prisoners, including Major Benford (Edward Fox) are planning escape, and the shot down American bomber Lieutenant Crawford (Chris Penn) is joining them. Led by Colonel Grayson (Denholm Elliott), the PoW soldiers have joined with the indigenous people called the Meo in a resistance against the Japanese, and they will help in all battles and their eventual escape. Also starring Timothy Bottoms as Seaman Miller, Richard Graham as Sergeant Perry, Nick Tate as Lt. Commander Hunt, Etsushi Takahashi as Captain Ozawa and Michael Dante as Commander Davidson. The cast members are reasonable choices, and there were certainly some eye-catching moments of gun play, explosions and battle sequences, but of course the original film is much better, and this effort doesn't come close, but it's an alright Second World War action adventure. Okay!

Was the above review useful to you?

2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Nothing for David Lean to have lost any sleep over

4/10
Author: TrevorAclea from London, England
23 June 2008

When it played originally in the UK, Return From the River Kwai carried a legal disclaimer that the film was in no way related to or a sequel to The Bridge On the River Kwai, to which the only response is "No s***, Sherlock." Where Lean had Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins and Sessue Hayakawa, Andrew V. McLaglen has to make do with Edward Fox, Christopher Penn, Denholm Elliott and George Takei, which should tip you off what to expect. It has a good enough true story to tell – no bridge building this time, but the eventful journey of Allied P.O.W.s being sent to Japan as forced labor as the war neared its end – but while bridges and ships are blown up, planes crash and there are hundreds of extras, it all has a perfunctory feel to it and a lack of vision. Sargon Tamimi and Paul Mayersberg's script tends to be surprisingly repetitive too. It's the kind of film where a character says "We're coming into Phnom Penh," followed by a shot of a train passing a sign reading 'Phnom Penh, followed by another character saying "We can't stay long in Phnom Penh," just in case anyone missed the fact that they're in Phnom Pen… While Fawxx reigns in his self-parodic tendencies for once without ever being particularly good, Elliot is especially disastrously miscast as a commando leading local guerrilla forces. Blinking wildly every time he fires a gun, it's like someone hired the local vicar to play Rambo in the village fete. The Japanese characters naturally come off worse. Tatsuta Nakadai's alcoholic commander fares well enough in his few Japanese scenes but his inability to speak English results in him awkwardly delivering many of his lines in clumsy phonetic Ing-leesh, though he's easily outdone by Takei's abysmal pantomime villain performance as his sadistic second in command that's straight out of a bad WW2 propaganda film (as is Lalo Schifrin's heavy-handed score). While it all plays rather better on the small screen than it did on the big one, it's one of those films you really don't need to see. Shot with one eye firmly on the late 80s video market boom and never released in the US in any form, it's no surprise to see this being given away as another UK newspaper freebie.

Was the above review useful to you?


Page 1 of 2:[1] [2] [Next]

Add another review


Related Links

Plot summary Ratings External reviews
Parents Guide Plot keywords Main details
Your user reviews Your vote history