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Blu-Ray : Recommended
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Release Date: June 27th, 2017 Movie Release Year: 1968

Hell in the Pacific

Overview -

From the director of Excalibur and Deliverance comes this "gripping" (Leonard Maltin) adventure about two wartime enemies trapped alone on a desert island. Academy Award winner Lee Marvin (The Dirty Dozen) and Toshiro Mifune (The Seven Samurai) deliver "striking and well-etched performances" (LA Herald-Examiner) in this searing psychological drama that packs "plenty of action and excitement" (Motion Picture Herald)!

From the instant they meet, a marooned American soldier (Marvin) and his Japanese counterpart (Mifune) have the same objective: killing each other. But it soon becomes apparent that the only way they will survive is by forging an uneasy truce and cooperating with each other. Can they rise above the hatred that divides them long enough to stay alive?

Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/AVC MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English SDH
Special Features:
Reversible Blu-ray Art
Release Date:
June 27th, 2017

Storyline: 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.

Video Review


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.

Audio Review


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. 

Special Features


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.

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.