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Return to Paradise (1998)

6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 10,700 users   Metascore: 54/100
Reviews: 126 user | 64 critic | 22 from Metacritic.com

Two friends must choose whether to help a third friend who was arrested in Malaysia for drug possession.

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Writers:

(motion picture Force Majeure), (motion picture Force Majeure), 2 more credits »
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Title: Return to Paradise (1998)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
Kerrie
...
Ravitch
...
Ming Lee ...
Mr. Chandran
...
Mr. Doramin
...
Prosecutor
...
Famous Divorce Lawyer (as James Michael McCauley)
...
Young Woman in Limo (as Brettanya Friese)
...
Woman in Bar
...
Construction Foreman
Amy Wong ...
Ticket Agent (as Amy Wong)
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Storyline

Three friends share an exciting vacation in Malaysia, full of fun, drinks, women and hash. When the vacation is over, each have dreams of continuing their lives, and they all go their separate ways. One of them (Phoenix) remains on the tropical paradise to fulfill a dream of working with apes for research. Two years later, a lawyer (Heche) comes to New York and hunts down the other two friends to give some sad news. A few days after they left the island, police raided their camp and found amazingly large quantities of hash left about. Phoenix was still residing there, so he had to take the blame. He is set to be put to death in 8 days, and the only way the charges can be decreased is if the two friends come back to paradise and take their share of the responsibilty. If they do, they both will spend three years in prison. If only one does, he will spend six years behind bars... Written by R.P. Falvey

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Give up three years of their lives or give up the life of their friend. They have eight days to decide.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, drug content, some sexuality and a scene of violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 August 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Long Way to Paradise  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£126,537 (UK) (16 April 1999)

Gross:

£126,537 (UK) (16 April 1999)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cuba Gooding Jr. turned down the role of Tony the architect. See more »

Goofs

Long opening series of street scenes, local "color", was obviously filmed in Buddhist Thailand, complete with saffron-robed monks and red-green-gold Thai temples - Malaysia (population has 30 % non-Muslim minorities) doesn't have go-go bars or obvious brothels unlike Thailand). See more »

Quotes

Sheriff: Should I beware of lawyers bearing gifts?
See more »

Crazy Credits

In memory of DANNY ARNOLD See more »

Connections

Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Reese Witherspoon/Alicia Keys (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Sonata In F Minor
Written by Domenico Scarletti
See more »

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User Reviews

One of the most underrated movies of the past decade
7 February 2003 | by (Kidderminster,England) – See all my reviews

Return To Paradise is one of the best films you've never heard of. It was buried in the summer of 1998 to mostly positive reviews and was later unsuccessfully reinvented 9 months later here in the UK on the back of Psycho which also starred Vaughn and Heche. Its been unfairly treated by the now defunct Polygram as it is a quite incredible little drama with some superb performances and some moments of great power.

The premise is relatively simple. Three friends on holiday in Malaysia. Two leave. The police arrive and find hash where they were staying. The third is put in jail. Two years later a lawyer finds the two remaining men in New York and tells them that their friend was found guilty of trafficking. They must go back to share the punishment or he will die in 7 days.

Its a frightening dilemma and you can't help but ask yourself the same question. Would you go back? If one goes back they go to prison for 6 years. If both go they will have 3 years each. All of the arguments are put forward, making the answer not seem as clear as originally imagined.

The timeframe is made even tenser with titles reminding us of how many days are remaining. Vince Vaughn plays our hero who doesn't always act in the morally correct way we expect him to do. He doesn't immediately decide to go back, making us question if we would either. Vaughn gives the finest performance of his career as the not completely likeable 'Sheriff'. Anne Heche plays the increasingly desperate lawyer who will do anything to save her client from execution. And her desperation is made completely believable by Heche's multi-faceted performance.

And then Joaquin Phoenix plays the imprisoned Lewis who has little screen time but whenever he's on he totally captivates. His video message to his two friends is heartbreaking. There are numerous twists which serve to further the emotional capital which is placed in the conclusion.

And by the time the suspenseful court scene arrives, you will find yourself nervously hoping for a happy ending. Needless to say the film ends with a succession of unspeakably powerful scenes. Its hard to remember a film which I found as moving as this. It serves as a very poignant anti-drugs message. Its impact will stay with you for days, making it really quite unforgettable. Hunt this down. You will be richly rewarded.


73 of 77 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Vince can clearly act very well, so why does he make so many crap movies benettfreeman
I'm a Malaysian and this is so funny... nalan_dewa19
What if it was you? film_connoisseur84
best performance? AmericanHistoryEX
Cry your eyes out? FoolOntheHill42
Is this a remake/similar to another movie plot pamelajoon
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