Borneo, 1942: An American soldier escapes WWII and becomes the king of the headhunters in the jungle. Two British soldiers are parachuted into the area to find local support for the battle against the Japanese.
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An American soldier who escapes the execution of his comrades by Japanese soldiers in Borneo during WWII becomes the leader of a personal empire among the headhunters in this war story told in the style of Joseph Conrad and Rudyard Kipling. The American is reluctant to rejoin the fight against the Japanese on the urging of a British commando team but conducts a war of vengeance when the Japanese attack his adopted people.Written by
Keith Loh <email@example.com>
In February 1989, the film's writer-director John Milius said: "Orion isn't behind it. They don't think it is going to be big at the box office. You put all the sweat and blood you can into it, and the outcome is whatever happens" and "In a way - I don't know why - I guess this film is more heartfelt than anything I've done since Big Wednesday (1978) . . . the producers, Al Ruddy [Al Ruddy[ and Andre Morgan, who are friends of mine now, were lied to by Orion executives. They did a very careful divide-and-conquer and turned us against each other. They [Al Ruddy and Andre Morgan] would love to re-cut it the way I wanted . . . We'd all love to re-cut that movie and re-release it". See more »
MacArthur is wearing sunglasses when he is first shown. Suddenly, he is not wearing glasses, and they are not visible in his hands or on his desk. See more »
THE COAST OF BORNEO - April 1942 / Shortly after the fall of the Philippines the Japanese are triumphant in the Pacific
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The US version of the film is different in quite a few ways to the European version. Despite being slightly shorter, it has some additional footage: the battle montage as the Japanese retreat is much longer (the entire battle at the river is cut from the European versions), while there's also a scene of James Fox reminiscing about a girl he knew in India that is missing from the European cut. However, there is a huge and fairly important scene cut from near the end of the picture, where Fairbourne (Nigel Havers) visits the Japanese general as he has his last meal before his execution. Otherwise there is a big structural difference with the prologue from the US cut showing Learoyd deserting and watching his companions being executed being much more comfortably placed in the flashback sequence when Learoyd is telling the story of how he became king in the European version. Among other small differences in the US version: the opening quote has been dropped and replaced with title cards specifying the date and location; the first scene between James Fox and Nigel Havers is slightly longer with a line of dialogue at the end to lead into the scene where he talks about the girl he loved in India; the scene with MacArthur is shorter in the US version, with the footage of MacArthur giving Fairbourne some of his tobacco deleted; the scene where Fairbourne betrays Learoyd by telling the Colonel about the salt has an extended ending with more dialogue; the end narration is longer ("I hope he finds his valley... somewhere.") with a slightly awkward edit in the final music cue to extend it; the end title music is different - the US version begins with a replay of the main title, the European version with part of Nigel's Trip. See more »
This is a curious piece whose dramatic arc takes a while to reach its full speed, but builds to a climax of considerable horror, involving cannibalism, genocide, loyalty and revenge. It is, I think, a mistake to label it an action movie: it is a drama, and played with a theatricality to which the viewer must adjust.
Nevertheless, once it gets into its stride this film has considerable charm.
The core cast bond closely and Frank Mcrae, who plays Sgt Tenga, and Marius Weyers (Sgt. Conklin) manage to give warmth to the invaders who threaten the survival of The People of the Hills.
The central relationship, between Nolte and Havers, is a fragile one which teeters on the brink of formulaic in Nolte's rescue of the sick Englishman and their mutual debts of gratitude and obligation. However, as they plunge into the conflict against the remnants of the defeated Japanese army, they each shock one another with what they are prepared to do.
I think the climax of the horror, which I do not wish to spoil, is brilliantly done. I felt the protagonists' turmoil and understood their brutal reactions, while still being shocked by it.
This film is open to charges of hokiness, theatricality and slowness, but, given a chance, it explores themes similar to those in The Thin Red Line; the imperialistic side effects of the Pacific war and the dehumanising effect of soldiering, against the fully human power of love and community.
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