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Return to Paradise (1998)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance, Thriller  |  14 August 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 11,202 users   Metascore: 54/100
Reviews: 128 user | 67 critic | 22 from

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



(motion picture Force Majeure), (motion picture Force Majeure) (as O. Schatzky) , 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ming Lee ...
Mr. Chandran
Mr. Doramin
James McCauley ...
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)


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


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:





Release Date:

14 August 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Long Way to Paradise  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$2,465,129 (USA) (14 August 1998)


£126,537 (UK) (16 April 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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


[Around 55:00] Beth comes to John's home. She gives him a "ZABARS" bag of food. The door is wide open (we clearly see the outside is red and the inside is green) behind Beth. As John takes the bag, the door is suddenly closed, however no one has closed it. See more »


Sherrif: I know her. Like know her.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In memory of DANNY ARNOLD See more »


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


Sonata In F Minor
Written by Domenico Scarletti
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User Reviews

A superbly-splendid, well-crafted and unimaginably touching story of choice, life and sacrifice.A rare gem.
28 June 2011 | by (India) – See all my reviews

This review ,as the summary suggests,might seem like just another review from a Hollywood buff who just fell in love with a movie,every minute of which he is cherishing.. but I hope this review convinces you to see this movie as soon as your done reading it because,trust me,you will rate it as one of your finest.

Joseph Ruben has delivered an Oscar-worthy film which is brilliantly made making you empathize with the characters portrayed in the film.

The story revolves around 3 men lewis(jaoquim phoenix),tony(David conrad) and sheriff(vince vaughn) holidaying in Panang,Malaysia where it's all fun with drinks,drugs and women after which lewis stays back to fight for animal rights when tony and sheriff call it a day and head back to their lives in new york.Two years later beth eastern(anne heche) shows up at their doors telling them that lewis has been imprisoned for possession of hash and is awaiting death by the noose but can be saved from being hanged if both of them share the responsibility of the crime with him and spend 3 yrs each together or 6 years if only one of them chooses to go back..

The rest of the story revolves around how beth tries to convince the two to "return to paradise" to serve their time fighting their own personal barriers,tony:convincing his lovely fiancé played by vira farmiga to let him go and sheriff:the reluctance to loose 3 years of his life in a third-world prison,while trying to fend off a story-hungry reporter played by jada pinkett.

The movie is not as simple as the plot suggests and has a lot of twists making it a gripping story.All the main cast members portrayed their roles with elegance,vaughn and heche in particular,and brought a certain empathy to the screen which is the key ingredient in such a film.

This movie is certainly one of the best films I have seen and definitely one of the greatest.

I would,without doubt,go with a 10/10.Bravo!

6 of 9 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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