I shall return
Steven Hellerstedt | 06/30/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"RAIDERS OF LEYTE GULF (1963) is a low-low-budget movie from Filipino director Eddie Romero. After Gen. Douglas MacArthur's stirring, theatrically stirring, promise to return to and liberate the Philippines in World War II there arose a guerilla indigenous resistance movement there, as well as some pointed attention prior to an Allied attack.
RAIDERS OF LEYTE GULF is the story of an American soldier, Maj. Wilson, who is captured and subsequently tortured by his Japanese captors. Maj. Wilson was investigating coastal defenses prior to an American invasion of liberation and the Japanese go to great lengths to interrogate him, including the centerpiece sequence of this film, a water torture that's briefly and deftly handled. The Americans parachute a Lt. Grimm into the interior, where he links up with a resistance group, to liberate Maj. Wilson.
As a fan of war movies I was intrigued by a movie shot in the Philippines, by a Filipino, about Filipinos in World War II. If I hadn't had that built in interest this movie may have been impossible to sit through. There are action scenes that contain pursuit sequences that last too long, that are sloppily edited, and do little or nothing to build tension or push the plot forward. The lead actors - Jennings Sturgeon as the captive major and Michael Parsons as the liberating lieutenant - are wooden and just this side of awful, although the script doesn't help them at all. Efren Reyes plays the Japanese commandant in a variation of the Sessue Hayakawa, I-don't-like-being-this-cruel-but-I'm-a-soldier mold. There's also a pointless love sub-plot between Parsons and an actress you've never heard of.
So my three stars are a purely personal response to the movie. War movies, especially those told from another culture's point of view, are inherently interesting to me. This one was just that, and no more. If you're not into the subject this might be dreadful.