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Tears of the Sun (2003)

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A Special-Ops commander leads his team into the Nigerian jungle in order to rescue a doctor who will only join them if they agree to save 70 refugees too.


2,465 ( 226)
2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ellis 'Zee' Pettigrew
Demetrius 'Silk' Owens
Colonel Idris Sadick
Awaovieyi Agie ...
Hadar Busia-Singleton ...
Ida Onyango ...


Navy SEAL Lieutenant A.K. Waters and his elite squadron of tactical specialists are forced to choose between their duty and their humanity, between following orders by ignoring the conflict that surrounds them, or finding the courage to follow their conscience and protect a group of innocent refugees. When the democratic government of Nigeria collapses and the country is taken over by a ruthless military dictator, Waters, a fiercely loyal and hardened veteran is dispatched on a routine mission to retrieve a Doctors Without Borders physician, Dr. Lena Kendricks. Dr. Kendricks, an American citizen by marriage, is tending to the victims of the ongoing civil war at a Catholic mission in a remote village. When Waters arrives, however, Dr. Kendricks refuses to leave unless he promises to help deliver the villagers to political asylum at the nearby border. If they are left behind, they will be at the mercy of the enormous rebel army. Waters is under strict orders from his commanding officer ... Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

rebel | refugee | border | doctor | jungle | See All (114) »


The lives of many rest in the courage of a few. See more »


Action | Drama | Thriller | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong war violence, some brutality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 March 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hostile Act  »

Box Office


$70,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$17,057,213 (USA) (7 March 2003)


$43,426,961 (USA) (18 April 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Nick Chunland and Cole Hauser both appeared in the Riddick trilogy. Hauser played in Pitch Black, Chunland in The Chronicles of Riddick. See more »


When the F-18 is launched at the end of the movie it has no weapons loaded on its pylons. When they are in the air they are shown to have a full weapons load. See more »


[first lines]
Female news reader: [voiceover] The tension that had been brewing for months in Nigeria exploded yesterday as exiled General Mustafa Yakubu orchestrated a swift and violent coup against the democratically elected government of President Samuel Azuka. In a land with 120 million people and over 250 ethnic groups, there'd been a long-standing history of ethnic enmity, particularly between the Fulani Moslems in the north and Christian Ibo in the south. The victorious Fulani rebels have taken to the streets...
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Crazy Credits

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke See more »


Referenced in Getaway: Golden Getaway: Getaway Goes to the Movies (2007) See more »


Cry In Silence
Written By Jim Dooley, Martin Tillman
Performed by The Hollywood Studio Symphony (as The Hollywood Studio Symphony Orchestra)
Orchestrated By Yvonne S. Moriarty (as Suzette Moriarty)
Conductor / Orchestrated By, Bruce Fowler
(p) © 2003 Revolution Studios Distribution Company, LLC.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An excellent action/thriller with something to say.
7 March 2003 | by See all my reviews

7.5 out of 10

Tears of the Sun is hardly perfect. Director Antoine Fuqua's direction can get a bit heavy-handed and most of the characters are one to two-dimensional in development (understandable, given the large cast). But it's a solidly made, often thrilling and sometimes thought-provoking film that aims for serious issues, particularly as a sober outlook of modern warfare and morals. It's not entirely successful at the latter, but to even attempt to stray from typical Hollywood is admirable, and Tears of the Sun is often more hit than miss.

Bruce Willis stars as A.K. Waters, the head of a mission to retrieve a Dr. Lena Hendricks (Monica Bellucci) from the Nigerian jungle, after Muslim rebels have just assassinated the presidential family, and are on a rampage throughout the country. Hendricks is located easily, but she will only leave so long as all able-bodied individuals on her mission can come along. Waters reluctantly agrees, but soon finds that he and his group must trek the jungles with no assistance and with 300 Nigerian soldiers hot on their trail.

Tears of the Sun works as a thoughtful film, but is more successful as a tension-builder. Director Fuqua shows an able hand at building suspense to a feverish pitch, all the way to the concluding battle sequence, a fifteen minute setpiece that rivals any recent war film in both intensity and technical superiority. The other major action setpiece is a tense shootout in a village, the aftermath of which is disturbing in its revelation of the rebels' treatment of civilians. Tears of the Sun is a violent film, but never exploitative in its approach.

The film's two best developed characters belong to Bruce Willis and Monica Bellucci. Willis has always been a fine actor, this understated approach has worked for him before and fits like a glove here. I'm not quite as familiar with Bellucci, who I've only seen in Brotherhood of the Wolf and as one of the brides in Bram Stoker's Dracula, but she's quite good here, easily the film's anchor when it comes to heart and warmth. I'm certainly not exaggerating when I say she's one of the most beautiful (and bodacious) women to ever grace the screen (and I look forward to her in the upcoming Matrix sequels).

There are flaws, such as the rather obtrusive musical score and some pretentious use of slow motion on Fuqua's behalf. The film's biggest narrative stumble comes with a plot twist 3/4's through the movie, when an extraneous plot twist is revealed. Admittedly, without the twist, the film wouldn't have been able to build up as much suspense, much less deliver that final battle. But when all is said and done, Tears of the Sun is highly recommended, a Hollywood film that has more on its mind than explosion and gunfights (which the movie still has an ample amount of).

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