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DVD Review: THE GREAT RAID Director's Cut

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PHOTOGRAPHY

THE GREAT RAID (Unrated Widescreen Director's cut)

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 131 minutes, two disc Collector's Series DVD, feature audio commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes, documentary, interactive timeline and The Mix Board with special audio options

STUDIO: Miramax

RELEASE DATE: 12-20-2005

THE GREAT RAID is the true story of the most successful rescue missions in USA military history. It is near the end of World War II and The 6th Ranger Battalion (lead by Lt. Colonel Mucci (Benjamin Bratt) and Captain Prince (James Franco) are given a mission to rescue the remaining 500 American POWs who survived the Bataan Death March. The military brass fear that the Japanese will kill the POWS before the forces in the Philippines reach the POW camp near Cabanatuan. THE GREAT RAID is also based on two novels: The Great Raid On Cabanatuan by William B. Breuer and Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides.

THE GREAT RAID follows three stories: the Rangers sent to rescue the POWs, the POWs in the camp, and a nurse (Connie Nielsen) who is the head of a resistance movement in Manila that smuggles medical supplies into the Cabanatuan POW camp. The first 90 minutes are the build-up to the rescue mission which takes place over 20 minutes of THE GREAT RAID.  The film does go on a little too long after the mission is over, but THE GREAT RAID is a film that should be seen by War film fans and those who want to learn a little bit about a rescue mission that is rarely talked about in movies. The detail seen in THE GREAT RAID is impressive. It is another film to add to little seen World War II film classics alongside THE THIN RED LINE.

The Director's Cut does differ from the theatrical version.  It is two minutes shorter than what was shown in theaters.

VIDEO: 2.40:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

The image detail is great. The film has a desaturated look which adds to the reality of THE GREAT RAID.

AUDIO: English 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Dialogue is sharp. The sound mix packs a punch during the rescue mission sequence on the POW camp.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

DISC 1- The two big extras on the first disc are 23 minutes of deleted scenes (16 scenes with optional commentary) and a great audio commentary for THE GREAT RAID with Director John Dahl, Producer Mary Katz, Technical Advisor Captain Dale Dye, Editor Scott Chestnut, and Author Hampton Sides. The deleted scenes have a few scenes I wish they left in. The audio commentary is filled with info about the making of TEH GREAT RAID and historical info about the events in Bataan and the rescue mission. THE PRICE OF FREEDOM: THE MAKING OF THE GREAT RAID if your typical promo piece from Miramax featuring tons of clips from the film and interviews.

DISC 2- The big highlights of the disc are the 57 minute documentary (THE GHOSTS OF BATAAN), the Interactive Pacific War Timeline, and the MIXING THE GREAT RAID featurette (plus the multi-channel mixing board for a 3 minute sequence where you can hear one of six tracks or the final audio mix). The low point of the disc are the Boot Camp Outtakes where CAPTAIN DALE DYE'S BOOT CAMP (focusing on Dale Dye's role as military tech consultant and the boot camp he put the actors through) is only a little bit better. HISTORY LESSON WITH AUTHOR HAMPTON SIDES is a shorter version of what is also covered in the GHOSTS OF BATAAN documentary. The DEDICATION TO THE SOLDIERS OF BATAAN is basically a list of people who survived Bataan and the Rangers who rescued them from the Cabanatuan POW camp. THE VETARNS REMEMBER is a short featurette with the men who were there in Bataan (whether they were POW or Ranger).

THE GHOSTS OF BATAAN is a documentary focusing on the fight in Bataan (in the Philippines) to the Death March of American POWS to their brutal treatment in the POW camps to the POWS lost at sea on the way to slave labor in Japan, and the Cabanatuan POW rescue mission (and how some didn't deal with life not that well after coming home to the USA). Features interviews with survivors of Bataan and others. The Interactive Timeline tells you what important events before and during the war in the Pacific. A few segments in the timeline give you an option to hear audio commentary by author Hampton Sides.

FINAL ANALYSIS: THE GREAT RAID Director's Cut is one of the best DVDs in Miramax's Collector's Series. The main problem with the CE is that it is a little more expensive than the single disc Full Frame theatrical version (shudder). They should have just released the wonderful two disc CE as the only release of the movie at the price of the one disc version. The extras are actually worth it and the film looks at a part of World War II that is barely mentioned.

this DVD Review is (c)12-24-2005 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com