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Return to Paradise (1998)

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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 »
2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ming Lee ...
Mr. Chandran
Mr. Doramin
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)


$8,288,513 (USA) (25 September 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Film debut of Vera Farmiga. See more »


Beth has an additional ring once they leave New York. See more »


Lewis McBride: [crying] I asked myself... would I come back for you? And the only answer is a Godless, empty, evil... no. I'm sorry I wouldn't have come back. I'm sorry.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In memory of DANNY ARNOLD See more »


References Midnight Express (1978) See more »


Beautiful Lady
See more »

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User Reviews

What Brokedown Palace should have been
5 June 2002 | by (australia) – See all my reviews

Return to Paradise is what Brokedown Palace should have been. Joaquin Phoenix, David Conrad and Vince Vaughn are 3 friends on a 5 week holiday in Penang. Joaquin stays behind and the others come home. Forward 2 years later a young lawyer tracks down the other 2 and they find out that Joaquin's character has been in prison for the past 2 years and they have 8 years to decide whether to take their share of the blame.

Joaquin Phoenix is the heart and soul of this movie. His performance is so poignant and real, he has truly come a long way since the 80s.

Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche are brilliant in their roles especially Anne Heche, she really took her character to another level and it was sometimes heartbreaking as her performance was so real.

This is one movie to check out if you haven't seen it. I did not know about this movie until 2 years ago when I saw it on cable and after just watching Brokedown Palace I was skeptical as it was really bad and I was so surprised when I watched Return to Paradise as it wasn't toned down or glossed over and all the principle actors were fantastic.

If you haven't seen it you certainly don't know what you're missing.

26 of 36 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
Loved it, but the romance was kind of odd PinellasBeachPro
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