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Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Hard-boiled writer/director Samuel Fuller was still working ‘under the radar’ @ Fox when he made a pair of starless low-budget Korean War pics. (THE STEEL HELMET was the mate.) This one’s a Thermopylae inspired tale (think ‘The 300') of warriors coming of age during a Rear Guard action. A small platoon of 48 men are left to hold a narrow pass so that 15,000 soldiers can stage a successful retreat. A typically fierce Korean winter is claustrophobically staged on a few woebegone studio sets with unconvincing cycloramas & special effect miniatures making do for landscapes & explosions. But as the film goes on, with gallons of over-articulated Fulleresque philosophy-of-war dialogue, the sets take on a stylized qualify reminiscent of some long lost Frank Borgaze silent film from the late ‘20s. The whole effect is odd . . . and oddly compelling.

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