Too Late The Hero DVD


Set on a Pacific island in 1942, Too Late the Hero is a hard-as-nails "men on a mission" war movie: a group of British soldiers have to traverse the New Hebrides to destroy a Japanese radio transmitter, then get back to safety while being hunted all the way. Inevitably everything goes wrong, but director Robert (The Dirty Dozen) Aldrich turns the book of WWII movie clich├ęs on its head and springs some unnerving surprises. Even the token American star, Cliff Robertson--echoing William Holden's grafted-on role in The Bridge on the River Kwai--proves less than obviously... heroic, while an outstanding Michael Caine brings considerable depth to his usual cynical cockney. Henry Fonda gets heavily billed for a brief guest appearance, but there are star performances such fine British character actors as Denholm Elliot, Ian Bannen, Ronald Fraser and Lance Percival. This portrait of battle-worn men offers greater complexity than Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, while the jungle trek was more recently paralleled in Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line. Only the attitudes--more 1970 than 1942--detract from Aldrich's tellingly realistic vision, which with a thoughtfully ironic script and a succession of tense set pieces and brutal firefights, builds to a harrowing climax. On the DVD: The picture is presented at approximately 1.7:1, reformatted from the original 2.2:1 70mm theatrical presentation. Despite approximately 25 per cent of the original image being missing, this loss is only really noticeable in a few scenes. Apart from the occasional fleck, the print is in superb condition, and despite the lack of anamorphic enhancement the picture is sharp, detailed and has excellent colour. The surround sound (not mono as listed on the packaging) is highly effective, with the tension being increased by a considerable amount of the music coming from the rear speakers. The special features are simply a few static pages of biographical and production notes. --Gary S. Dalkin [show more]

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08 April 2002
Prism Leisure Corporation 
129 minutes 
PAL, Widescreen 
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November, 1942. A US Navy task force in the South Pacific faces imminent destruction unless the Japanese radio base on a nearby island can be silenced. The Navy's solution is to order the hard-nosed Lieutenant Lawson (Cliff Robertson) to join a bunch of British misfits - including the mouthy Tosh Hearne (Michael Caine) and the crazy Private Thornton (Ian Bannen) - in a suicidal attempt to destroy the Japanese base. The mission is dangerous enough in itself, but with all the destructive tensions in the group, it becomes almost impossible. Directed by Robert Aldrich ('Kiss Me Deadly', 'The Dirty Dozen').

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