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Takes 'exploitation war films' to a new low
9 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
There must have been some positive sentiment evident when the film's makers conceived this project. But like so many international co- productions it was probably mostly moving money out of the participant's countries. Because it's so bad it's an insult to everybody who died in that war.

Watching it in Hebrew (and understanding nothing) would be better for English speakers than the gruesome dubbed dialogue they're served up with.

As for 'action' it is acutely restrained, if that's the right word, by a near-zero budget for ordnance - to the point where the heroes are defending their position against attacking Egyptian armor using an RPG, firing it WITHOUT the rocket propelled grenade! And exploding helicopters - well it was a nice idea on paper.

You can only imagine how Israeli veterans just returned home from the conflict must have reacted seeing it. Anyone with PTSD would not have gone for a start. And the rest would have taken it as 'light comic relief' it's so laughable.

Record from late night schlock channels because your money is better spent elsewhere
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Canopy (2013)
Intensely unrelentingly 'green' and . . boring
27 October 2016
Award wins and nominations are the critics injoke punishing any gullible viewers who happen onto this low budget panorama of the jungle - canopy to floor.

If you have ever been into the equatorial jungle once you will never, never ever forget the experience of prickly heat, rashes, bites, itches. Sweat. That's the easy part. Even the super fit quickly get so exhausted they go 'troppo' with the heat and humidity and wander away in a daze, off the track never to be seen again.

In the Solomon Islands two American servicemen went missing in the jungle in WW2. Their bodies were found a week later - not more than 500 meters from their army base - of 500,000 men.

THAT kind of jungle 'feeling' you can never experience on a cinema screen.

The small budget is severely restrictive. Watching somebody stumbling through endless 'green' (unless you're a botanist) without a commentary by David Attenborough is crushingly boring. Interacting with the 'civilisation' he finds not on a distant par with the fabulous lunacy of Klaus Kinski in 'Fitzcarraldo' or Nick Nolte's inspired state of mind in 'Farewell to the King'

Distribution is consigned to low budget TV and cable channels. Recording and fast forward is the only suggestion.
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Stupefyingly bad European botched job co-production from beginning to end
26 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Jack Palance plays a British colonel - and is dubbed as such. From then on it is downhill all the way. Weaponry of all sorts completely wrong for the story period. American APCs !! The actual target - a huge rail gun shown firing is patently absurd while the SFX used for its demolition are so crushingly amateurish to insult the intelligence.

So sad to see a cast of actors capable of achieving masterpieces when given scripts and production values to match their talents, have had to stoop to such a level to earn a living.

This European co-production is a perfect example of how a film was ruined by the necessity to finance it following the constraints of percentage co-production budgets. Jack Palance had to be cast in the lead to ensure US / international distributor interest. All the various nationality European cast then fitted in to fulfill the budget percentage requirements for talent.
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Proof some movies date so badly they are now better read as screenplays
26 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Two things weight heavily on how and why this movie disappoints all but the hardcore cinephile now: supposedly set in Italy it was filmed entirely in Calabasas, Los Angeles.

And the release date of December 1945. When hundreds of thousands, if not millions of returned servicemen would still be waking up screaming in the night pursued by the horrors of war; seeing men blown to pieces all around them, the mindless destruction and carnage impossible to rid from their minds.

Even if it were conceived then, making and releasing 'Saving Private Ryan' type war film at that time would have made audiences sick in the cinemas or run screaming into the street.

'Action' then is replaced by dialogue of realism of the interminable tense periods of 'waiting' for war in a world of dangerous unknowns.

70 years on the generations whose greatest emotional tension is sitting in traffic jams, and who HAVE seen it all before just can't relate to the stage-play pace of this kind of film making anymore. And the story would be much better appreciated if read as a screenplay.
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Of historical documentary interest as to how the Leyte region looked in 1963
9 May 2010
This B&W action film joins the handful of others shot in Phillipines during the early 60's by local producers.

Low budget, with cast of hundreds, and truckloads of blank ammunition, the shootouts are noisy, wild and as chaotic as the direction (or lack thereof) and final editing. Compared with the amateurish battle/action scenes shot in 1968 by Edward Dmytryk in 'Anzio'(with Robert Mitchum and a hugely larger budget) they aren't that bad.

What is of particular interest in this work (and the other films of the period) is the incidental and unintentional documentary value showing how the region, ancient buildings and villages looked in the 1960's. Not much changed from the 1940's.
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Suddenly (1954)
Sinatra proves he could be as bad as Lee Marvin - and as good.
11 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Agonisingly bad. Proves yet once again that rubbish ages badly.

What is supposed to be serious ends up like The Marx Brothers meet 'Turkey Shoot', 'Psycho Ward' and 'Last Man Standing'.

To think Sinatra made 'From Here to Eternity' only the year before defies the imagination. But given the nature of Hollywood at the time he was not taken seriously and still had to sing for his supper, Oscar or not.

The director had no idea of feature film action - as his CV ultimately shows. TV westerns and cop shows to the end.

The final scene is the worst.

* * * MAJOR SPOILER * * *

The final shootout scene is totally hysterical. As the Presidential train approaches the station, the sniper (and after all the buildup and moral/emotional twaddle before, it isn't even the psycho Sinatra plays who is to be the shooter!!) is electrocuted. He fires his rifle wildly all over the place - on automatic, resulting in a brief gun battle when police return fire.

Then we see two seconds later in a close up when Sinatra picks up the rifle from the dead man, despite the long magazine (to give the impression it is a self-loading rifle), it appears to be a bolt action piece, set up for a left-handed rifleman!!

Sinatra's demise shortly thereafter is totally unbelievable, pathetically amateur even. The wounded sheriff, Sterling Hayden throws an ASHTRAY!! at him while he aims the rifle. A geriatric then tries to tackle him when he turns around. And the kid shoots wide, misses and throws the revolver across the room.

Meanwhile Sinatra, still obsessed for 'regime change', picks up the rifle again and aims...Only to be shot by the lady of the house. And again, using the same revolver, by the sheriff.

Directed by Kurosawa, the wounded cop would have rushed the sniper through a hail of bullets before bulldozing him through the window, both to fall screaming to their deaths.

In short, a bad script, badly directed.

The only hope may be that someone will do a straight-to-DVD remake, still set in the 1950's, with Mickey Rourke as the psycho.

Sinatra proves here that (like rough diamond Lee Marvin) he can be totally hopeless with a bad script and director. Or as we have seen in other work (for both men) totally brilliant and riveting when under the control of a great director with vision and the script to match.
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Bitter disappointment
10 July 2004
Shot in wide screen Panavision, some made-for-TV movies look better than this pic when it's shown in the TV safe format. To see it in anything but 2.35:1 is to miss half the cinematic effect. But that really is the biggest problem - most of the battle scenes either through lack of resources or the way they were filmed and edited, are unconvincing.

They shot the film in tropical Northern Queensland, Australia in the 'dry' season and the bright sun, puffly white clouds and lush verdant landscapes suggest this was war in 'paradise'. On some Pacific islands it was. But Guadalcanal is not paradise. It's equitorial and primarily blindingly overcast when it isn't raining. The climate and terrain in the jungles is so oppressive, like Papua New Guinea, equitorial Africa, the Amazon (or Vietnam) that people go mad just by being there and wander off the trail never to be seen again.

Terence Mallick wandered off the trail here, lost the plot and he may never be seen again.
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Mel's 'Little House of Horrors' wheelchair scene deserved Oscar
22 May 2004
Forget conspiracies! There are. 30 minutes in is a hidden gem of a scene where the director pulls out all the stops when Mel gets the third degree interrogation treatment from Patrick Stewart trying to drown him while strapped to a wheelchair while doped up with a mind-bending truth serum.

Mel goes right off his head, bites his tormentor, boots him in the bollocks then rolls out into a surreal hysterically funny totally over-the-top 'house of horrors' scene with Mel screaming his head off while crashing down a staircase strapped to the wheelchair.

Now all we need is Jamie Leigh Curtis with Mel Gibson pairing up on 'Highway to Hell II' to make everybody's day.
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Slow, boring and ultimately irrelevant
6 September 2003
Have we been spoiled by expecting contemporary films (with the exception of porno) to start off with a bang? A blood-splattered wall is all you get here then the pic drifts off into dialogue from there and 15 minutes in and you're still wondering do you give a toss if a serial killer is on the loose, or not because 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' it aint.

Nice to see the colonial Victorian-style weather-board houses of tropical Queensland but sadly nobody was drinking 'XXXX' - the Australian word for beer.
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Worth watching for Quincy Jones' hip score alone
31 January 2003
This film defies the usual story line development - where the hero is introduced if not in the opening scene, then the next. Before Jack Lord gets a look in a whole cavalcade of characters has graced the screen, why and wherefore is discussed at length by all and sundry and the dialogue and characterizations is so dated to turn the clock back to the 1940's.

The music, (by Quincy Jones) however, is a hidden gem. Totally cool and laid back jazz. Hip bongos.
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Hopeless muddle of prescient action
24 November 2002
The most unexpected plus in this otherwise botched job is seeing the fabulous African railways steam train heading through the veld in the opening scene. After this, however, it's downhill all the way with a basically boring 'deja vu' scenario: megalomanic terrorist uses brainwashed hostages as human suicide bombers. Turn to CNN and it's happening daily for real. Apart from that there's plenty of military hardware mostly wasted in badly filmed action SFX where explosions look more like fireworks.

For the money they could have done much better.
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Enemy Unseen (1989)
They're out there & you're mincemeat
3 November 2002
An el cheapo cranked out in Africa in 1989 by the look of it and since then nobody behind the camera seems to have done much since. Small wonder. The trailer however is great. Blood, guts, reptiles and explosions in the jungle. Get 6 six-packs and treat yourself, your partner, and your partner's partner to a liquid lunch with the VHS on the box. The neighbors will never hear the screams.
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Chato's Land (1972)
Dated spaghetti Western tosh
2 November 2002
1870's trailer trash go walkabout in the deserts of southern Spain tracking down Charles Bronson. They talk too much, the 'breed' (as they call him) doesn't talk at all. To think that 'The Wild Bunch' was made at this time shows Michael Winner and Sam Peckinpah were universes away. Better to buy a bottle of cheap Spanish wine than pay good money to rent this nonsense.
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Zero Effect (1998)
Botched job
27 October 2002
How many more movies do we have to endure where the 'hero' is introduced as a stereotyped disorganised twit (nerd) who also happens to have near genius ability? Viewers either picked up on this movie as tops in comedy, or just plain boring and silly. My feeling is it presents elements of the latter two, but despite the mis-directed development of the subject and plot by the writer, the director has to carry the can for what ends up as a botched job. Basically this story and film could have been much better. This story hinges on a few but nonetheless interesting premises, all of which are thrown away by the writer and director. Silliness, neuroses and psychoses are too often misused, or confused with comedy - especially by American writers and directors. To such an extent that many European critics consider anyone living West of Ireland incapable of understanding (or creating) irony or the truly eccentric character. (Gore Vidal, it should be noted has lived most of his life in Rome.) If 'Zero Effect' has been re-written by an Italian and made with Giancarlo Giannini picking up where he left off in 'Sono stato io' ('He was Himself') this film would be so hysterical you'd die.
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Hysterically funny
27 October 2002
Even in Italian subtitled in French this flick is hysterically funny, thanks to a totally over-the-top fabulous Giancarlo Giannini. Italian melodramatic comedy at its best. As they say. "See Naples anddDie", well you'll get a hernia watching this oldie but goodie.
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The Odyssey (1997– )
Ageless fantasy or old soap?
13 October 2002
Very good work actually. Although sadly Armand Assante seems to be mis-cast. I say sadly because he's a great actor however perhaps it's because we've been so brainwashed by imagery from 2000-year old marble statuary onwards into thinking the 'ancients' must all 'look' heroic - like Arnie, or Sly that Armand just doesn't 'fit' in the scene.
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The Matrix (1999)
Believe The Matrix and you'll believe anything
11 October 2002
Somebody says, "What a mindjob". It is. And it would have been a lot funnier if a computer simulated reincarnation of Ed Wood had directed it with a cast of freaks. Perfect, however, for our brave new virtual reality world. Long. Boring. Heads and those searching higher planes of consciousness with 'mescalito' should keep a finger on fast forward. Reality might be too much to bare.
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Passenger 57 (1992)
Botched job
4 October 2002
Unbelievable action scenes in every sense of the words. Are cops really going to shoot a plane full of holes with passengers inside it? And that's just a start of the silliness. Truly they were so desperate to do another 'Die Hard' they didn't lose the plot. They never had it to start with.
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Film's beginning has fatal 'spoiler'
3 October 2002
Warning: Spoilers
In addition to all the other disappointments mentioned in aforesaid comments, the opening scene is a fatal spoiler suggesting a conclusion to the story we may not want to know about in advance. Especially if you become bored (as I did) an hour in, anticipate an unsatisfactory end (thanks to the unnecessary spoiler) and walk out.
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Road to Boredom
26 September 2002
A beautifully (minimally) filmed bore which Treat Williams could have made in a straight-to-video flick for $5 million in Canada and nobody would ever have noticed. Widescreen imagery and Dolby sound wasted on 'character' development and a script with so many holes in the 'disbelief' dept. it doesn't matter because everyone involved is laughing all the way to the bank. Like 'Traffic' it will look so much better in the comfort of your own living room with a can of Boddington's Director's Best Bitter, a bag of Bombay mix and Airwick.
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Unsung satirical comedy masterpiece from action flop
22 September 2002
This action flop has aged so well to the point when you leave out Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland and most of the cast, the film moves into the realms of a minor (but most certainly unintentional) masterpiece. The stars undoubtedly had a pleasant paid holiday in Switzerland while making the film. Charles Bronson preferred Europe, so this ridiculous change of scenery was probably thrown in as it suited producer, director and stars.

Paul Koslo (the actor perpetually with the worst hair in Hollywood) is as always a lackey and fallguy who gets blown away. But this film really comes into its own with such a towering performance from Rod Steiger that one has to wonder why he wasn't nominated for an Oscar. 100% brilliant comedy send up - his speech impediment is a masterstroke, masterly executed. Steiger can be watched and rewatched endlessly, he's such a scream, while the end of the film one of the best blasts you'll ever see.
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The Train (1964)
Train wrecks to die for
15 September 2002
Wonderful to see the SNCF (French Railways) the way they used to be. Sadly in black & white because the wrecks will never be made again as all those great engines gone to scrap long ago. Then of course there's the movie which will never date. Classics never do. A tragedy we haven't seen more of veteran German actor Wolfgang Preiss in English films since. Like Peter Van Eck and Kurd Jurgens, these guys defined German cinema for anglophones in the 50's & 60's
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U.S. Seals (2000 Video)
Amazing waste of production resources
1 September 2002
Sublime action rubbish. With the accent on rubbish. Unintentional 'comedy' is to be kind. To discover that such resources can be found to make film in the ex-USSR is the only consolation. Perhaps a re-edit could redeem something but you wouldn't want to hold your breath.
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Traffic (2000)
Highly intelligent but totally mis-hyped movie
31 August 2002
There's so much more to 'see' in TRAFFIC the second time around on video. I rated this '4' in the cinema. But '8' as a TV movie where its soap-like complexity and slow-pace lets all the threads and themes develop fully.

It also occurs to me that as most if not all Academy members viewing nominated films see them on the TV these days, NOT in cinemas that how wide-screen films view on the box is vital to Oscar success.
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Shameful waste of cinema resources
17 August 2002
Good money and talent squandered in badly scripted, acted and directed action. To even call this nonsense anything to do with the 'River Kwai' shames the original film and dishonors the memory of the atrocities which occured trying to build the ill-fated Burma Railway.
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