Hell in the Pacific Reviews
If you see this on DVD, buy it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
During the late stages of the war, two soldiers find themselves stranded on an island in the Pacific, albeit two soldiers fighting for opposite sides. One is a Japanese solider who has been on the island for quite some time, and the other is an American soldier who finds himself marooned on the island after a plane crash.
At first the two hunt one another, trying to outwit each other to capture the other or steal supplies. After much fighting, squabbling, and whatnot, the two discover that in order to get off the island, they have no choice but to work together to build a raft.
The story is fairly simple to follow, but despite its simplicity, it has a great deal to say about the nature of war, finding common ground even if opposed to one another, and misunderstandings. It's an intriguing mix of themes that becomes especially potent during the last 15 or so minutes of the film during the harrowing finale. But even before that point, it was interesting to see how two enemies are forced to work together and see that perhaps they are not so different, and not such bad people as their sides have made them out to be.
The acting is excellent. Then again, considering the actors that were cast in this film, they'd better damn well do a good job. While my exposure to Lee Marvin has been limited, he was excellent as well in Point Blank, and here, he gives another great performance as the American soldier. Toshiro Mifune, whom I have enjoyed in many great Japanese films doesn't disappoint, either. While it's not his best film or performance, it is no less a fantastic performance. Their performances combined were believable, compelling, and also filled with interesting chemistry, especially as neither actor could speak the other's language, making the film feel more believable in depicting the two enemies not understanding or agreeing with one another at first.
As a war drama, it is quite engaging, especially how it is not one-sided in its depictions of both sides. It's not here to be pro-America, not is it meant to be sympathetic towards the Japanese. Its main purpose is to show the nature of war and the misunderstandings that can come with it, and how something can bring even enemies together to work together for a common goal. There's even an actual bond between the two which was a rather interesting dynamic. However, the film does suffer from some issues, like the "My Log!" scene which ended up being hilarious. Sometimes its tone and messages can become a tad muddled. But, thankfully, this rarely ever happens.
Hell In The Pacific is a fantastic, underrated war drama. On top of this, it remains a very relevant and topical film worthy of discussion. It's an engaging, well-acted, and thought-provoking film from beginning to end. If you ever come across it, it is something to watch.