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Deadly Voyage (1996)

TV Movie  -   -  Drama | Thriller  -  15 June 1996 (USA)
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When stowaways are found on board a Russian cargo ship, some of the officers and crew decide to dispose of them at sea. The last time they had a stowaway on board, the ship was fined ... See full summary »



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Title: Deadly Voyage (TV Movie 1996)

Deadly Voyage (TV Movie 1996) on IMDb 6.9/10

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When stowaways are found on board a Russian cargo ship, some of the officers and crew decide to dispose of them at sea. The last time they had a stowaway on board, the ship was fined heavily and black marks entered into their records, when he made it off the ship into a foreign port. Written by Brian W Martz <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

ship | sea | france | ghana | west africa | See more »


You can hide... but you can't run.


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for graphic violence, strong language and some sexuality | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

15 June 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Deadly Voyage - Treibgut des Todes  »

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User Reviews

Bleeding-heart claptrap
1 April 2008 | by (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

I watched "Deadly Voyage" because David Suchet was in it, after enjoying him in the "Poirot" series. And Joss Ackland is always worth watching, so I went into the film with an expectation of it being a potentially worthwhile film. Alas, it was not to be.

I won't bother critiquing the performances, the pacing, the cinematography or any other structural aspect of the film; others here have already given their opinions on those elements. The only thing I want to address is the film's message, since it proclaims in the intro that it's based upon a true story, and therein hangs the film's supposed importance.

"Deadly Voyage" primarily focuses upon an impoverished black African man named Kingsley who wants to move to the US, because he believes that he can make money there. Nothing more, nothing less -- his motivation is utterly selfish. (Of course some people will prevaricate by saying that he was doing it for his family, but in fact he decided to have children on the income he could make in Ghana, so he really just created his own problem.) To that end, Kingsley decides to stow-away aboard a Russian freighter bound for New York. In the process of doing this, he faces harsh conditions, racist crew members and other challenges.

But this is precisely where the film leaves me unsympathetic. Why should the audience be expected to care about Kingsley? Simply because he has a goal? Goals aren't such a rare commodity that his should be privileged above say, the goal of the ship's captain or the woman he left at home with his newborn child. Kingsley's goal is illegal in the eyes of the US Government. It is also illegal in that it steals from the Russian shipping company. If he makes it to the US, it would involve taking out of a system that he has not put into. And if he gets caught, the shipping company will be fined $45,000. I doubt very much that any of the stowaways care about what their chosen course of action is costing anyone else; they're clearly just out for their own gain. He could've spent the $1,000 he won in the lottery at the beginning of the film, for legal passage to the US, and applied for residency and a work permit. Instead, he takes the illegal (and dangerous) route.

So since Kingsley's voyage is illegal, selfish and cannot be ethically justified, why should we care about him or his ordeal? Simply because he faces challenges? Why should his challenges be privileged above the challenge of the Russian shipping company getting to New York without stowaways? Because he's black and the shipping company is white? The reason seems to be because Danny Glover (the film's executive producer) and others involved want us to root for Kingsley, as if he's a hero on some sort of noble voyage. But once you accept that illegal immigration, theft and a fool's mission aren't noble at all, you can't really care about him.

Before anyone plays the race card, I assure you that I would've felt the same no matter what ethnicity/nationality the involved parties were. Imagine if a British person decided to stow-away in a train headed for Bhutan, sneak across the border, and collect "unwanted" Buddhist antiquities, to bring back to Britain to sell. How much sympathy could the challenges he faced generate? Very little, I'd bet. So why should we feel different for Kingley? Because he's black? Because he's poor by American standards? The filmmakers are banking on us sharing their views that the ends justify the means, and that a shipping company being fined $45,000 is inconsequential compared to the remote possibility of an unskilled laborer earning slightly more in the US than he could've if he had just stayed in his own home country. I didn't buy it for a minute.

9 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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