Only the bravest of men risk their lives to save others! In this "suspenseful and engrossing actiontale" (Boxoffice) based on a true-life rescue story, Oscar(r) winner* Gene Hackman (Unforgiven) and Danny Glover (Lethal We... more »apon) portray a pair of valiant American soldiers up against impossible odds for survival and rescue within war-torn Vietnam. After his reconnaissance plane is shot down behind enemy lines in Vietnam, Lt. Colonel Hambleton (Hackman), a career soldier who's used to calling the shots from behind a desk, must now figure out a way to survive in the jungle! Luckily for him, he manages to establish radio contact with an Air Force pilot, Bird-Dog (Glover), who makes it his mission to save his stranded comrade. To plan the dangerous rescue, the two soldiers communicate by secret code. But when the enemy intercepts their messages, it's only a matter of time before the code is broken...leaving both men at risk of being caught and imprisoned.« less
Great Gene Hackman Raises This Film to Minor Classic
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 04/19/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Perhaps, like me, you've come here after watching "Behind Enemy Lines" featuring Owen Wilson and, of course, Gene Hackman, who happens to star in this underrated film. Okay, the plot is almost the same as that action filck made with the technology of the year 2001, but, let me tell you, "BAT*21" gives its stress on a different matter than "Behind," and that is the characters played by the two leads.As the film claims in the opening, the story about Lieutenant Colonel Iceal Hambleton whose airplane is shot down behind enemy lines in Vietnam is based on truth. Now becoming "BAT*21," his code name, he has to rely on a radio by which he maintains a contact with a pilot Captain Bartholomew Clerk (Danny Glover), who instructs and encourages him to overcome all the barriers waiting for him on the ground. But Lieutenant Colonel has no previous combat experience in his career, and the time for massive air raid that is certain to kill him is coming closer.Frankly, some of the scenes are too incredible (especially when Captain tries to fly the helicopter, which he has not done for a long time). And you cannot expect the high-octaine action sequences, because the film's real focus is set in other places; that is, the bond between the two leading characters, which develops gradually through the unreliable radio contact. Precisely this human part is the greatest asset of "BAT*21" of which quality is raised by the extremely superb acting by Gene Hackman. He is, as usual with any first-rate actor you name, the real energy with his depiction of toughness and frailty, and his powerhouse performance lifts this sometimes clithed film to the above-average level among many other ones about this war."
Gene Hackman on the Golf Course in Viet Nam
Lonnie E. Holder | Columbus, Indiana, United States | 10/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Gene Hackman is Lt. Colonel Iceal Hambleton. In real life Lt. Col. Hambleton was flying as a navigator on an EB-66 electronic countermeasures plane, call sign Bat-21. When a surface-to-air missile hits the plane, Col. Hambleton is the only man able to eject from the aircraft, landing in the northern portion of South Viet Nam. For the next eleven and a half days Col. Hambleton evaded capture by the North Vietnamese Army until he was rescued in one of the largest and most complex rescue missions of the Viet Nam War. These true events, for which 234 medals were awarded, inspired this movie.
In the movie Col. Hambleton is nearing possible rescue by a Jolly Green Giant rescue helicopter when Viet Cong destroy the helicopter. The Viet Cong, who are using the people of a nearby village to protect themselves from American attack since the Viet Cong know that Americans typically attempt to protect non-combatants, kill all the crew. However, this time the rage of Col. George Walker (Jerry Reed, in one of his best roles) causes the village to be destroyed by napalm bombs.
Col. Hambleton is on the run for his life, both from the North Vietnamese Army and from an impending air strike by B-52 bombers. Using the call sign Bat-21 and his URC-64 survival radio, Hambleton follows directions from forward air controller Captain Bartholomew Clark along a path based on golf courses that Col. Hambleton has played.
What I find amazing about this movie is that while there are events that illustrate the tragedy and inhumanity of the combat in Viet Nam, much of the movie focuses on the people in the movie. There is a touching moment where Col. Hambleton passes a boy on a bridge, and the two exchange gifts, forgetting for a moment the ideologically generated conflict going on around them. It is also apparent to me that Col. Hambleton had nothing against the Vietnamese people; he was just a soldier with a job to do.
Movies typically do a poor job portraying any war or combat, with few exceptions. Similarly, this movie misses much with respect to the true story. This movie also invents things that never happened, or misrepresents other events, likely all for the sake of pace and action. However, this movie does catch the spirit of one man surviving incredible odds in war to not only do his job, which was to fight an enemy, but to get himself rescued in the process. From that viewpoint this movie is a winner. "
Robert A. Boyd | Puyallup, WA. | 12/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film encompases the realism a Vietnam Veteran wants in a film centered on/in that war. the films actors dedication to self portrayals of those who were there while fighting against all odds for those in need and under fire is accurate. Danny Glover portrays the honest truth of character that most men had within themselves while there. I remembered my own dedication to my country and its best beliefs while watching the film. Thank you Danny for a wonderful portrayal."
John A Lee III | San Antonio, TX | 08/29/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Gene Hackman plays a career Air Force intelligence officer with a passion for golf. He looks for the day when he can retire and try to join the pro tour. In the meantime, however, he is still a serving officer in Vietnam.
Retirement is fairly close when he gets shot out of the sky while riding on a B-52 mission. He is the only survivor and he is someone that the Viet Cong would very much like to capture. He has to run for his life. In his running, he is aided by a forward air controller played by Danny Glover.
Hackman knows that the area he is in is due to be carpet bombed in a few days and he has to get out of there. The problem is that the VC are listening in on the radio and that makes planning problematical until golf proves to be a useful escape tool. Hackman knows the layouts of the world's military golf courses like the back of his hand and comes up with a code using golf terms and the layout of well known military courses to let the rescuers know how to keep up with him. Its still tough going, though, and the VC don't give up easily.
This is a rather good movie and one could almost be fooled into thinking that Danny Glover really does love his country...almost. "
Very good movie
Robert A. Boyd | 09/13/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have seen this movie several times and have always liked it very much. The movie rates with me as indicated because I have just recently had the HONOR of meeting Col. Hambleton in person. Of course when you meet the person that inspired this movie it makes it much more interesting.I have ordered 3 of these VHS tapes for myself and two relatives that liked this movie of which I will have Autographed by the Col."