Taking place towards the end of WWII, 500 American Soldiers have been entrapped in a camp for 3 years. Beginning to give up hope they will ever be rescued, a group of Rangers goes on a dangerous mission to try and save them.
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Set in the Philippines in 1945 towards the end of WWII, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Mucci and Captain Robert Prince, the 6th Ranger Battalion undertake a daring rescue mission against all odds. Traveling thirty miles behind enemy lines, they intend to liberate over 500 American Soldiers from the notorious Cabanatuan Japanese POW camp in the most audacious rescue ever. Written by
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The terrain in outdoor scenes consists of grassy areas with trees common in North America (e.g. Oak, Pine), not native tropical terrains and trees (e.g. rice fields, Banana, Mango) common to the Philippines. Needle bearing trees are not seen in the Cabanatuan region of the Philippines. See more »
While Hollywood has gone after the Nazis and the European campaign in World War II over and over again, ad nauseam, little has been produced depicting the Pacific Theatre or the thousands of Americans and others who perished there.
In fact, only a handful of motion pictures have touched on the subject over the last two decades, namely Steven Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun," Terrance Malik's "The Thin Red Line," and the Nicolas Cage bomb, "Windtalkers." The best film in this genre was probably 1957's "Bridge On The River Kwai," which won Oscars for David Lean and Alex Guinness, among others, but that was almost 50 years ago.
Now John Dahl ("Rounders," "Joyride," the TV series "Tilt") has shed some light on a little-known rescue attempt in the waning days of the conflict in the Philippine Islands. "The Great Raid" is a fine little film, smart, patriotic and fairly historically accurate.
The film begins with a crisp narration (accompanied by actual film footage) of the quick successes of the Imperial Japanese Army in the days following Pearl Harbor. Gen. Douglas MacArthur - thanks to Roosevelt's decision to devote more to the European effort through the Lend-Lease to Churchill program - is forced to evacuate the Philippines and retreat to Australia.
Meanwhile, thousands of American troops are trapped by the swift-moving Japanese forces on the islands of Bataan and Corrigidor and are compelled to surrender. While WWII German brutality is everywhere in motion picture, few have addressed the stark horrors of the Bataan Death March. Even this movie skirts the terror with a simple voice-over in filling in the background story of a group of surviving prisoners held for over three years.
Receiving word of mass killing of American POWs by the Japanese, top brass in the Pacific orders a raid on a camp still behind enemy lines, led by Army Ranger Lt. Col. Mucci (Benjamin Bratt, "Law & Order) and Capt. Prince (James Franco, "Spiderman," "Spiderman 2").
Military minutia abounds with the planning and execution of the assault, which pits a handful of rangers against over 200 battle-hardened Japanese troops, led by sadistic Maj. Nagai (Motoki Kobiyashi).
The movie also shows the strong relationship between the Americans and Filipinos which was not the greatest in the years after the Spanish-American War, but was cemented against the common Nipponese enemy. Nice composition between rangers, prison camp and the occupied capital of Manilla, where civilian nurse Margaret Utinsky (Connie Nielson, "Gladiator," "One Hour Photo")is working with the Filipino underground resistance.
This is no "Saving Private Ryan," and the acting sometimes leaves a bit to be desired, but the strength of the story, the fact it was inspired by true events, and the historical importance of the film, make this one a must-see, even for casual fans of the genre. It will not make much money, but it was very important that it was made.
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