Lt. Col. Iceal "Ham" Hambleton is a weapons countermeasures expert and when his aircraft is shot over enemy territory the Air Force very much wants to get him back. Hambleton knows the area he's in is going to be carpet-bombed but a temporary shortage of helicopters causes a delay. Working with an Air Force reconnaissance pilot, Capt. Bartholomew Clark, he maps out an escape route based on golf courses he has played. Along the way however, he has to face enemy forces and the death of some of his fellow soldiers.Written by
When Gene Hackman is approaching the villager's hut, he startles a chicken. A string was tied to the chicken's leg & Gene Hackman "trips" the string which pulls the chicken out of the doorway. He then acts startled. See more »
The "Jolly Green Giant" helicopter is actually a Siskorsky S-61, a type built for the U.S. Navy. The Siskorsky HH3-F was used by the U.S. Air Force and featured a ramp at the rear of the fuselage. The S-61 did not have a ramp. See more »
Capt. Bartholomew Clark:
Let's get the basic relationship down... I'm the lifeguard, you're the drowning man. If you relax, I can bring you to shore. If you fight me, then I'll have to slap you around.
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.... this was supposed to be a "true" story, so why not tell it as it really happened? Of course, there are always budget restraints and other considerations that come into play. But I can never quite work out why Hollywood changes crucial facts of a real story when making "true-life" movies of this type. Don't get me wrong - I saw this movie for the first time just last week, a full 13 years after it first appeared, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It didn't glorify war at all, and some of the scenes were quite shocking and moving. However, having read the TRUE story of BAT 21 some years ago, I couldn't help thinking "hang on a minute - it didn't happen like that!!!" In reality, the actual 1972 mission to rescue Lt. Col. Hambleton was a very complex affair that lasted for 12 days, the downed airman finally being rescued by a two-man team consisting of a US Navy SEAL lieutenant (who won the Medal Of Honour in the process) and a South Vietnamese Army Ranger. Why not include this in the movie if you're out to tell anything like the true story? Also, several US aircraft and choppers were shot down in the process, with 10 American airmen killed and two more captured. But apart from the superbly done abortive helicopter rescue attempt and the shooting of the captured crewmen, the movie led us to believe that the rescue mission merely consisted of Hambleton (Hackman) escaping & evading on the ground with Clark (Danny Glover) circling above and talking to him on the radio. In reality, Clark was himself shot down early in the mission and had to be rescued, and his role in the actual Hambleton rescue was therefore nothing like that depicted in the film.
But, that said, why let the truth get in the way of a good story? And despite its shortcomings on the historical accuracy front, this was a thoroughly enjoyable film that didn't gloss over or sanitize the horrors of war. Despite my nit-picking, I'd definitely recommend it.
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