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A WWII film set on a Pacific island. Japanese and allied forces occupy different parts of the island. When a group of British soldiers are sent on a mission behind enemy lines, things don't go exactly to plan. This film differs in that some of the 'heros' are very reluctant, but they come good when they are pursued by the Japanese who are determined to prevent them returning to base.Written by
Too Late the Hero is a cynical war adventure with a set of rather unsavoury, antagonistic characters caught in an unforgiving, hot environment where they risk being embushed at any time by Japanese soldiers. It manages to stay interesting for two hours until building up into a fabulous, exciting finale. Not a big soldiers action film like The Dirty Dozen or Platoon, Too Late the Hero is nevertheless my favourite of the genre, although it took a couple of watchings to appreciate the simple, yet original, intelligent plot development, the realistic, yet interesting and even at times amusing dialogue and characters (for instance, Caine telling Robertson in his cockney accent: "now what's got you jumping about like a frog with a bullet up his ass..") and the suspenseful and well-made action sequences. It is not always easy for this kind of film to retain a kind of unsentimental realism and be entertaining at the same time. Yet, Too Late the Hero does it. While they are not particularly sympathetic characters (there are none in the film, except maybe for the Japanese major), Cliff Robertson and Michael Caine manage to become likeable anti-heroes in their own way, each giving excellent performances; American Robertson wondering what the hell he is doing among a rough bunch of Brits fighting the Japanese on a Pacific island until he decides to find his destiny as a hero, and Caine as a brash, cynical, rude, insubordinate and altogether hilarious cockney, mainly concerned about saving his skin. Too Late the Hero does not dwell into making an elaborate anti-war statement. It takes for granted that war is hell and any sane man would just worry about surviving like Caine, Robertson or most of the other soldiers on an increasingly suicidal mission - not as the leader of the group, brilliantly played by Denholm Elliott, who appears suspect and foolish for trying to maintain traditional combat values and discipline. The interactions between Robertson and his unfriendly British companions add to the interest and credibility of the film, while the unusual chase through the jungle and its exciting conclusion contribute to its originality. Not the best war film ever, but a unique one.
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