Blu-ray
Recommended
4 stars
Amazon
$18.88
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»
Overall Grade
4 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4 Stars
HD Video Quality
3.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
2.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Recommended

Hell in the Pacific

Street Date:
June 27th, 2017
Reviewed by:
Internet Brands
Review Date: 1
July 6th, 2017
Movie Release Year:
1968
Studio:
Kino
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

"Out of Violence, compassion.

Out of Suspicion, Trust.

Out of Hell, hope"

By 1968, the golden age of war movies was pretty much over. Director John Boorman (ExcaliburDeliverance) takes the helm of Hell in the Pacific, which brings together two war movie veterans to face off head to head in a completely stripped down character study. What happens if you drop two enemies into a desperate situation with limited resources? Can they get past they're basic ideological differences and language barrier to survive? Or will they kill each other? 

Hell in the Pacific is an early and relatively forgotten "war-is-hell" movie which saw no commercial success upon release. Lee Marvin (Dirty Dozen) a U.S. pilot, and Toshiro Mufune (Seven Samurai), a Japanese Captain, find themselves stranded on the same tiny desert island in the middle of the South Pacific. The two men play out WW2 on an island unto themselves, fighting over a puddle of water. Filmed on an actual remote Pacific island, the cinematography is breathtaking. The beauty of the location acts as a stark backdrop against the violence the two men perpetrate on one another.

I hate to go too much into plot as there really isn't much to say without telling the whole thing. Hell in the Pacific is almost a silent movie, Mufune and Marvin never share dialog beyond yelling at each other. The two are both masters of their craft, and very effectively move the movie along together. It should be noted the alternate ending on the disc is actually director John Boorman's original preferred ending and is much more in keeping with the overall tone. Boorman's strong visual style is well-suited to a movie with such limited plot and dialog. Music is used sparingly in small dramatic cues here and there, together with the visuals creating a truly unique and compelling experience. 

Hell in the Pacific subtly carries a message that modern audiences could stand to hear -- that people are just people trying to survive when you strip them of emblems and national identity. 

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray

Hell in the Pacific arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Classics.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Hell in the Pacific arrives on Blu-ray with a largely gorgeous transfer in its original 2.35:1 ratio. The good news is I could detect no obvious use of DNR or digital mosquito noise. The transfer is hindered only by its source material. Colors are rich and accurate. 

John Boorman preferred very grainy 35mm film stock. As a result the transfer suffers from inconsistent grainy black levels throughout. A healthy layer of film grain is ever-present as well. Without a major restoration I dare say this one couldn't look much better.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The movie comes only with an English DTS-MA stereo track which I found no problems with. Dialog (what there is of it) is crisp, and dynamics are solid. Music is used in limited cues that come through loud and clean. For a small movie of this era, it sounds really good, effects sound realistic. 

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

A 30-minute interview where director John Boorman shares memories and anecdotes about the film. Particularly amusing is hearing how impossible to direct Toshiro Mufune was.

Feature-length audio commentary by film historians Travis Crawford and Bill Ackerman. The two engage in a lively discussion about the film, and a good deal of history surrounding the stars and director.

Interview with Art Director Anthony Pratt. A 10-minute interview where the art director shares details on the production.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no HD Exclusives.

Final Thoughts

Hell in the Pacific finally gets the respect it deserves in high definition. It's a highly engaging character piece starring two screen giants at the height of their abilities, I cannot recommend it enough.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.35:1

Audio Formats

  • TBA

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH

Supplements

  • Interview with Director John Boorman
  • Alternate Ending
  • Audio Commentary by Film Historian Travis Crawford
  • Interview with Art Director Anthony Pratt
  • Reversible Blu-ray Art

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.

Amazon
$18.88
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»

Related reviews