A Navy navigator is shot down over enemy territory and is ruthlessly pursued by a secret police enforcer and the opposing troops. Meanwhile his commanding officer goes against orders in an attempt to rescue him.
During World War II when the Americans needed to find a secure method of communicating they devised a code using the Navajo language. So Navajos were recruited to become what they call code talkers. They would be assigned to a unit and would communicate with other units using the code so that even though the enemy could listen they couldn't understand what they were saying. And to insure that the code is protected men are assigned to protect it at all costs. One of these men is Joe Enders, a man who sustained an injury that can make him unfit for duty but he manages to avoid it and is told of his duty and that the man he is suppose to protect is Ben Yahzee. Initially there is tension but the two men learn to get along. Written by
Prior to filming, most of the principal cast joined a core group of 62 extras for boot camp, where they endured a week of rigorous military training as WWII Marines. The production received assistance from the Department of Defense, which made Kaneohe Marine Corps Base available for the actor's basic training. Under the tutelage of Sgt. Maj. James D. Dever (a retired 25-year veteran of the Marine Corps) and his active-duty Marine instructors, the cast learned how to walk, talk and think like Marines. See more »
Throughout the battle of Saipan, no Commissioned Officer is seen. The highest ranking character is the "Gunny" (a military term for gunnery sergeant). A Captain or a Major would be leading such an advance as is shown. See more »
I just watched the director's cut on DVD after having seen the theatrical cut some time ago.
Plot summary: In WWII, a code based on the Navajo language was used to securely communicate between US troops in the Asian Pacific, without the Japanese eavesdropping. We follow two Navajo code talkers and their US Marine "bodyguards" as they go into combat on a Japanese island.
A lot has been written about this somewhat flawed John Woo movie. After having seen both versions, my main disappointment is still that the two code talkers seem like background characters. A movie with a lower budget, without big Hollywood stars put in the foreground would probably have been more satisfying. Maybe that movie should have been done by another director too, I don't know.
Enough good "general" war movies have been made. The code talker part of the story should have been made much more pivotal as was done here.
I'm a fan of Woo's Hong Kong and Hollywood work. The director's cut of Windtalkers doesn't turn a mediocre Woo film into a masterpiece, but it is certainly an improvement.
Main advantages of the DC are more fleshed out characters. You get more background on all main characters, including the two Navajo code talkers. I felt more involved. As a result, the code talker part of the story is served better, but still not enough to my taste. The DC also has more uncut battlefield scenes. Woo really shows his talent here, with raw yet beautifully shot war action. You get the sense that you are in the middle of the action.
I was particularly interested if a scene was put back in where a US soldier takes a golden tooth from a Japanese corpse. This scene was described in several documentaries about censorship by the US Army. Not completely surprisingly, this scene was also absent from the DC.
If you are a Woo fan or already appreciated the theatrical cut, it may be worth checking out the director's cut.
My ratings: 6/10 for the original cut. 8/10 for the director's cut.
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