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The Great Raid (Widescreen Director's Cut)
The Great Raid
Widescreen Director's Cut
Actors: Benjamin Bratt, Joseph Fiennes, James Franco, Robert Mammone, Max Martini
Director: John Dahl
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Military & War
R     2005     2hr 12min

Nearly three years after it was filmed, The Great Raid finally appeared as a welcome reminder that good old-fashioned World War II movies never go out of style. While lacking the scale, prestige, and pulse-pounding momentu...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Benjamin Bratt, Joseph Fiennes, James Franco, Robert Mammone, Max Martini
Director: John Dahl
Creators: Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Jonathan Gordon, Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, Hampton Sides, William B. Breuer
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Military & War
Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 12/20/2005
Original Release Date: 08/12/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 08/12/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 2hr 12min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
Edition: Director's Cut
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, Japanese, Tagalog
Subtitles: Spanish
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Movie Reviews

The Japanese were cruel monsters during WWII
David Thomson | Houston, TX USA | 08/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Great Raid is a fantastic World War II film. The fast paced action is based on the real life rescue of the American POWs at Capanatuan in the Philippines. Director John Dahl pulls no punches. He correctly depicts the allied forces as the good guys and the Japanese as generally nothing less than war criminals. This is indeed historically accurate and Dahl refuses to shy away from the truth merely to satisfy the politically correct leftist crowd. Lt. Colonel Mucci (Benjamin Bratt) and Captain Prince (James Franco) were ordered to devise a plan that could quickly free as many of the sickly and malnourished prisoners like Major Gibson (Joseph Fiennes) as possible. Time is short. The war is almost over and Emperor Hirohito's followers of Bushido prefer death to surrender. If they are going to die, so too will the POWs. The pitiless Japanese particularly enjoy burning prisoners alive. They were, during that time period, racists to the core and perceived non-Japanese as inferior and unworthy of humane consideration.

Lt. Colonel Mucci partners with the fearless Philippine guerillas. They in turn rely on Margaret Utinsky (Connie Nielsen) and other members of the resistance to supply them with support and intelligence. The violence is brutal and not for the squeamish. There will be moments when you might even be inclined to turn your eyes away from the screen. Are the Japanese today as evil as their predecessors of some sixty years ago? Of course not, and we must not forget that all races, ethnic groups, and nationalities are comprised of moral and immoral individuals. There are few remaining WWII veterans. They fought to save our freedoms and constitutional rights. The least we can do, is to make an effort to more fully understand their struggles and heroism. The Great Raid is one of the best pictures of this year. Anyone who is a teenager or older should see it."
One of the best war movies of recent years
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 05/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Great Raid is one of the best war movies I've seen in several years, and it makes me downright mad to learn of this film's long-neglected, still overlooked history. It was filmed in 2002, then delayed for three full years thanks to a bunch of bureaucratic jabberwocky. When it finally saw the light of day in 2005, I didn't hear the first thing about it, which says a lot about the marketing behind it. Then, a number of professional critics cast aspersions upon it - all the usual suspects who prefer their own make-believe world where the worst sadists are merely misunderstood victims of a bad childhood and real history is just something to be distorted in pursuit of your own political agenda. The Great Raid is just far too true for these elitists, and - even worse - it shows that war, as horrible as it is, is sometimes a necessity in the face of outright evil. These guys can blanch and puff up all they like, but anyone who knows anything about World War II knows that the Japanese were some of the most merciless, brutal, downright sadistic soldiers the world has ever seen. That very concept is incorporated into this movie because it's true. The Great Raid adds a few unnecessary romantic elements to the story, but that story itself is an honorably realistic presentation of the most audacious, successful rescue mission in American military history. It's a story every American should know - but more than likely doesn't.

There was a good reason why General MacArthur vowed to return after FDR ordered him to withdraw from the Philippines - he was leaving a lot of good men behind, brave soldiers who suffered and died horribly after their Commander in Chief abandoned them. As FDR concentrated on the European theater, thousands of GI's died on the unspeakable Bataan Death March, while those who did survive the 60-mile trek were subjected to brutal, inhumane treatment in Japanese POW camps for three years. In January 1945, the military tide had turned, MacArthur had indeed returned to the Philippines, and the Japanese knew the end was in sight. War criminals to the end, they chose to slaughter all of their prisoners before they could be liberated. That set the stage for The Great Raid. The Allies knew the 500+ prisoners of war at Cabanatuan would be killed as their forces closed in on the camp. The only hope of saving these brave, long-suffering Americans was to execute a surprise rescue mission and take the Japanese completely by surprise.

This movie shows us pretty much what actually happened, and it is that commitment to historical reality that makes it such an important film. We watch Lt. Col. Henry Mucci (Benjamin Bratt) and Capt. Bob Prince (James Franco) draw up the plans, lead their soldiers forward, adapt and react to unexpected Japanese troop movements, and basically refuse to let anything stop them from leaving any American POW behind. These particular troops, from the 6th Army Ranger Battalion, had yet to see any real action for the most part, but they managed to cross 30 miles of enemy territory and sneak up on the camp across open fields in broad daylight without being detected. Meanwhile, brave Filipino soldiers provided invaluable assistance by preventing Japanese reinforcements from reaching the camp in time to disrupt the mission. The big firefight, when it does come, is quite intense and realistic, leading up to an emotionally stirring ending.

Alongside the viewpoint of the Rangers and their Filipino brethren in arms, the film also takes us inside the Japanese POW camp and acquaints us with the Filipino underground sneaking much-needed medicines into the camp. All of these heroes of different stripes aren't enough to satisfy the critics, though. They say the movie drags on too long, yet they complain that the POW camp conditions aren't covered in enough detail. They decry the scenes of Japanese barbarity, preferring their own little world of politically correct grey to the black and white reality of history. Folks, it doesn't get much more black and white than this: risking your life -against great odds - to rescue your brother soldiers is good; burning POWs alive rather than allowing them to be liberated is evil. Some things really are black and white. If you insist on pretending that everyone on earth really just wants to chase butterflies in the sun all day, you may not like this movie. If, on the other hand, you like a good war movie, especially one that is based on fact and presented in a realistic fashion, The Great Raid more than deserves a place in your personal DVD collection."
Left Behind, But Never Forgotten
Jeffrey T. Munson | Dixon, IL | 01/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Following in the tradition of such great World War II films as "Saving Private Ryan" and "Patton", "The Great Raid" tells the true story of an American rescue mission that took place over five days in January, 1945. Cabanatuan prison was located some thirty miles behind Japanese lines. Inside its walls were over 500 American prisoners. Many were survivors of the Bataan death march. These men had been improsoned for over three years. Many began to feel that their country had left them behind.

By late 1944, the Americans had returned to the Philippines. After learning about the existance of Cabanatuan, the Americans devised a plan to send an elite group of Army Rangers in to resue the POWs. Lt. Col. Henry Mucci (Benjamin Bratt), commander of the 6th Ranger Batallion, was given the assignment of developing the mission. Captain Robert Prince (James Franco) was placed in charge of planning and actually carrying out the raid. The Rangers would have to travel thirty miles into enemy-held territory, much of the time in broad daylight with very little cover. Fortunately, they received a great deal of help from the Filipino resistance.

Once at the camp, the Rangers burst through the front gate, suppressing the Japanese with heavy rifle fire, knocking out strongpoints and vehicles, and going through each building until every prisoner was accounted for. Many could not walk on their own, so the Rangers carried them to saftey. Once safely outside of the camp, Filipios using carabou carts helped transport the prisoners to American lines and freedom. In the end, 511 prisoners were rescued at the cost of only two Rangers who were killed in action. Major Daniel Gibson (Joseph Fiennes) was the ranking American officer in the camp. It is through his eyes that the viewer experiences the horrors of camp life. Included are the numerous beatings, attempted escapes, and other atrocities which the Japanese placed upon the Americans. Gibson died soon after being liberated.

Mucci and Prince were both awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for valor. Although this mission had very little strategic value to the actual fighting of the war, the rescue of these prisoners remains one of the bright parts of the war. These men felt deserted by their country, but in the end, it was American soldiers, risking their own lives, who saved them.

I've been a fan of true stories for a long time, and this movie ranks as one of the best true stories I've seen. Bratt and Franco give excellent performances as the colorful Mucci and the tough-as-nails Prince. Connie Nielsen is very good as Margaret Utinsky, a nurse who stayed behind in Manila after its fall to the Japanese. She smuggled much-needed medical supplies to the prisoners, risking her own life in the process. The extras included on the DVD are excellent as well. The documentary "The Ghosts of Bataan" gives an up-close look at the death march itself, while author Hampton Sides, who wrote the fine book "Ghost Soldiers", provides a history lesson about the raid.

I give this movie my highest recommendation. This is one of the best war films ever made. It is historically accurate, and the acting is excellent from start to finish. Watch and see how a group of 120 determined American soldiers marched thirty miles behind enemy lines to free a group of POWs who felt abandoned by their country."
History hits the screen
Maria M. | Southern California | 08/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As a history student, Filipina, and someone who has spent a lot of time studying this subject I was very pleased to see a film that took the effort to stay true to a true and little known story. What the Philippines went through during World War II is one of the most tragic and interesting chapters of the history of the war, but has been, even during the recent rising interest in WWII, largely overlooked. This film begins to look at it, and what better way to learn history than through a film?

This film has excellent performances from a diverse (and great looking ;-)) cast including many Filipino actors. As a Pinay myself I found the attention paid to the men and women of the Philippines in this film a fitting and overdue homage to my countrymen -- "kababayan". My favorites in this film would be James Franco, Connie Nielsen, and Cesar Montano. And Benjamin Bratt looks hot in a uniform.

I don't really like war films that much but saw this with my grandmother, and I was never bored during this film, it moved quickly and seamlessly and keeps your attention. My only complaint is that it wasn't graphic enough. There was no mention of the rape, the decapitations, or the full nature of or amount of torture and destruction inflicted on the Filipino people or the POWS.

I saw this film with my grandmother who went through the war and has often told stories of seeing bodies of bayoneted babies, friends who were killed, decapitated bodies, war torn landscapes. Family friends had a brother who died in the death march. After seeing this film she called up many of her friends and told them to see it, and then we got into another discussion, and she very emotionally told a story I had never heard before. I only bring this up to let viewers know that this is a subject that is very real, very painful, and something that we need to talk about and ask about and LEARN about. And for that I am thankful that these filmmakers made this film.

To anyone interested in learning more about this subject I recommend BEGINNING with "We Band of Angels", "Ghost Soldiers", and the gruesome/heartbreaking "Battle for Manila", one of the worst battles of the entire war. The latter is a very graphic book so be forewarned. History isn't pretty."