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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) »


He was trained to follow orders. He became a hero by defying them. 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
See  »

Did You Know?


The script was considered as part of the Die Hard (1988) series. See more »


In the scenes following the discovery of the smoke bomb by the rebels, the first scene shows a line of men moving across the field, all of them holding their weapons in a left-handed position. The next scene, a closer one from behind the men, shows them all holding their weapons in a right-handed position. It is likely that the film of first scene was flipped so that both scenes show the men moving in the same direction - to the left of screen. 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...
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Referenced in Family Guy: I Dream of Jesus (2008) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A very powerful and authentic film with a strong moral theme
22 July 2005 | by (France/Switzerland) – See all my reviews

This film was simply incredible. I didn't see it at the cinema, which upon seeing it later on DVD release, regretting missing first time round.

It made some incredibly powerful statements and was very difficult to watch. I rarely admit to this, but I actually found parts of it so moving, that I cried! And I never cry.

The choice of Bruce Willis was a good one and he plays a deeply conflicted character, he plays him with depth. I have seen Monica Belucci in films before. She is an incredibly gifted actress and she really believed in this project. Her character comes across as having strong religious and moral convictions, prepared to die to help and protect others. This comes across in the decisions she takes and the willingness to stand strong under pressure.

Having seen the Documentary on the special features section of the DVD afterwards, I could see the incredible lengths that everyone attached to the filming went to. Each of the actors playing Seal Team members, went through some very authentic training in preparation and stayed in character outside of filming during the day. Given the commitment of all those attached to the film, I can see why the film is what it is.

The director, Antoine Fuqua, from the films I have seen in which he directed, brings a strong moral theme to his characters and the story. The whole visual manner of filming, camera angles, close ups etc adds to the intensity here.

The choice of filter during filming, that gives a subdued and darker feeling visually, was perfect. The use of Africans as extras was an interesting and a suitable choice, given their backgrounds. Many of these extras were showing genuine emotions which was captured on camera, as they relived traumatic moments in their lives when certain scenes were filmed.

On that note, one scene in particular made for very difficult viewing, but totally in context and I would expect it would provoke a strong reaction from viewers, for good reason. The actual combat scenes are kept selectively short and in context to the overall film. They are also very realistic.

The soundtrack was well suited and complimented the whole overall feel to the film. I would not say that this film was entertaining, it is very hard to watch but it is an example of good film that will challenge everyone who watches it and who has a conscience.

After seeing this film, as with Hotel Rwanda and Tears of the Sun, I am constantly reminded of our individual and collective moral responsibilities in the 'civilised Western World' when atrocities are committed. And it sits badly with my conscience that 'we' in the West do so little and so late in trying to stop such genocide from happening. I for one think that every adult should see it.

113 of 147 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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