Friday, May 13, 2016

The Great Raid

Year 8, Day 134 - 5/13/16 - Movie #2,334

BEFORE: I've got my last dental appointment today, at least for a while, and I've also taken steps to get my passport renewed - filled out the form, got my photo taken and wrote the check, now I just need to mail the form in with my old passport (So, I guess I can't leave the country for a few weeks?  What a weird system...)  Now my "to do" list just consists of getting my eyes checked and getting a poster framed.  I'd love to get out of the city for a day or two, just because everywhere I go, I see people who piss me off by loud cell-phone talking, slow sidewalk walking, wearing parkas on a sunny day, or just being generally annoying, like by saying "literally" too often.  I just want to punch people in the face - not hard, just enough for them to realize that they're doing something wrong.  But then I'D be the bad guy, right? 

Max Martini carries over from "Fifty Shades of Grey".

THE PLOT: 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.

AFTER: Point of order, try to find someone, anyone, under the age of 30 who knows what the "Bataan Death March" was.  Kids, you can look it up on Wikipedia.  While I'm not part of the "greatest generation", thanks to movies I can at least be aware of the sacrifices made by U.S. soldiers.  Hey, Memorial Day is coming up, but I've got another film planned for that.  While I prefer to have war movies land on war-based holidays, I can't always control that - and this year I've already also covered "A Bridge Too Far" and "Fury".  

Though I've never heard specifically of the Raid on Cabanatuan, a POW camp in the Philippines that held the survivors of the Bataan Death March, it marks an important point in history - remember when Gen. MacArthur left the Philippines and famously stated, "I will return!"?  Well, this is what happened after he returned.  The Japanese army had adopted a policy of not only marching their POWs, but also beating and torturing them, and then killing them en masse before they could be rescued - so the "Great Raid" was an attempt to save any soldiers that had been held captive for three years, before the Japanese could kill them.  

While it's not a perfect film - there are too many characters, for one thing, and the entire raid takes place at night, making it very hard to see what's going on in some places, that shouldn't take precedence over the importance of this particular military action.  Two Army rangers and 21 Filipino guerillas were killed during the raid, but 511 POW's were rescued.  

The film, however, was not as much of a success - filming was completed in 2002, and then the film was planned for theatrical release in 2003 and then 2004, meanwhile Miramax and Disney were parting ways, and the film languished in the vaults.  Finally, after the split, it seemed like it would finally see the light of day in 2005, which just happened to then be the 60th Anniversary of the Cabanatuan Raid of 1945.  So seven months before its August release, there was a special screening at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, for a limited audience of embassy employees, people involved in the film's production, and the author of the book on which it was based.  Hey, at least someone was able to make a good event happen, even if the release hadn't occurred when originally planned.   

I just learned that the Philippines was once a U.S. commonwealth, which is the same status that Puerto Rico has now, beginning in 1935.  However, this was done to provide the territory with an interim government, while they worked toward becoming an independent nation, and not with the goal of eventual U.S. statehood, or anything like that.  Of course, then World War II came along, and Japan re-invaded in 1942, sending the commonwealth government into exile.  I either forgot all this, or else I never knew it.  But this certainly goes a long way toward explaining why Filipino troops would join forces with the American soldiers to free POWs, and eventually take back the territory.

Also starring Benjamin Bratt (last heard in "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2"), James Franco (last seen in "The Holiday"), Joseph Fiennes (last seen in "The Merchant of Venice"), Marton Csokas (last seen in "XXX"), Connie Nielsen (last seen in "Mission to Mars"), Natalie Mendoza, Mark Consuelos (last seen in "Cop Out"), Robert Mammone, James Carpinello (last seen in "Gangster Squad"), Laird Macintosh, Logan Marshall-Green (last seen in "Prometheus"), Cesar Montano, Clayne Crawford, Sam Worthington (last seen in "Wrath of the Titans"), Craig McLachlan, Kenny Doughty, Paolo Montalban, Motoki Kobayashi, Gotaro Tsunashima, Masa Yamaguchi, Paul Nakauchi, Jeremy Callaghan, Royston Innes, Dale Dye (last heard in "Planes: Fire & Rescue"), Brett Tucker, Luke Pegler, Eugenia Yuan.

RATING: 4 out of 10 quinine pills

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