The Great Raid John Dahl

Pulled punches. Forced exchanges. Shameless manipulation. Must be a World War II movie! This time, the subject is the mission to rescue the survivors of the Bataan Death March, who suffered for years in a Japanese POW camp while enduring the most barbaric of conditions. At least, that's what happened to the real prisoners — the movie ones just stagger around with bad hangovers, feigning just enough suffering to keep them romantically valorous. Nevertheless, Lt. Col. Mucci (Benjamin Bratt) launches a raid, with much messing about on both sides of the wire with the Filipino resistance, black marketers and a nurse played by Connie Nielsen. But the film plays into all the reflex actions about the Good War, with scrubbed-clean soldiers and downplayed trauma ensuring you notice the pieties and not the miseries. Everybody makes such a big to-do about the miserable conditions that you can't help but notice how un-miserable things are, and you resent the movie for its unwillingness to show the realities of combat and its use of action for one more inspirational jamboree. Aside from a few minor atrocities and the mention of Rita Hayworth's tits, this is indistinguishable from every other WWII movie ever made: there is the cuddly local resistance, the broadly-drawn Japanese villains, and a mountain of maudlin sentiment that would make you commit heroism if your gorge wasn't presently buoyant. An unrated, extended edition, disc one features a commentary with director John Dahl, his collaborators, and technical advisor Dale Dye, as well as 16 deleted scenes and a standard "making of." Disc two features a 60-minute documentary and two smaller featurettes that paint a more nuanced portrait, two featurettes on Dye's boot camp, a sound mix doc and interactive demo, a timeline, and a dedication to the Bataan fallen. (Alliance Atlantis)