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Hell In The Pacific
cast: Lee Marvin, and Toshiro Mifune

director: John Boorman

98 minutes (PG) 1968
Film Collection DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Ian Shutter
The actors in this WWII drama, American Lee Marvin and Japanese Toshiro Mifune, both actually fought in the war - so you might expect their personal backgrounds to add a certain extra frisson to the potentially intriguing idea of having them play soldiers stranded on a tropical island together. It almost succeeds...
   These two men, unnamed and unknown soldiers both, struggle against their training and patriotic loyalties, their respective ideologies, prejudices and fears getting in the way of basic survival traits as they forage and sweat, hide and stalk, and try to psych each other out. Primitive instincts dominate, while Mifune holds the beach and Marvin lives in the trees, until they overcome the language barrier. They fight. They grunt and scowl. Control of the only freshwater supply becomes a military objective. Their weapons are fire and sticks (Marvin has some bullets, but no gun). Each in turn is a prisoner of the other, but soon discovers that a PoW must be fed. Eventually, they cooperate long enough to build to raft.
   Savage natural scenery is wonderfully photographed here (by Conrad Hall) but the Robinson Crusoe appeal is limited by a mutual animosity, so the irony of it all is too long on coming. Alternately pompous and annoying, Hell In The Pacific proves ultimately tedious. Later, there was a more interesting SF variation on the plot, Enemy Mine (1985).
   DVD extras: digitally re-mastered full-frame presentation (not in widescreen), slideshow photo gallery, plus star biographies with quotes, and production notes.

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