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Old 10-14-2006, 07:06 PM
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Default The Great Raid - A Chaos Review

The Great Raid tells the story of one of the most triumphant rescue missions in U.S. military history. The mission at hand involves the necessary rescue of about 500 P.O.W.ís held at Canatuan. The U.S. is obviously worried about this group of P.O.W.ís since a previous 150 P.O.W.ís had been burned alive. Enter the talented, highly untrained and untested 6th Ranger Battalion, chosen to lead this mission. As they travel 30 miles behind enemy lines in hopes of saving these soldiers, the story of these men, and the other connected stories, really become interesting.

The book ĎThe Great Raid on Canatuaní by William J. Breuer serves as the novel the film was based upon. A man named Lt. Col. Mucci (portrayed here by Benjamin Bratt) had the huge task of not only getting these men ready to go, but also of preparing these men in a mere five days. We learn that the Japanese forces plan to kill these 500 P.O.W.ís in five days. Sounds like a lot of fun no? Well, the fun doesnít stop for Lt. Col. Mucci, as he also has to train Captain Prince (portrayed by James Franco) to assist him in leading these men into battle.

With the above main storyline, the film also has a few others stories that are all play off each. The second story follows the P.O.W.ís at Canatuan focusing on a man named Major Gibson (portrayed amazingly by Joseph Fiennes) and his partner Captain Redding. This sequence, out of all the three sequences, is the most important as it shows the true, gruesome horrors of what the prisoners endured at this camp. The third story involves a woman named Margaret Utinsky whose husband died. Since then she has been working in a Manila hospital. While this doesnít sound that amazing, Margaret has also been secretly smuggling in medicines to the P.O.W.ís. This story shows how some will go to incredible lengths to do what they believe in.

What makes The Great Raid better than the typical war film is not only the acting (Joseph Fiennes delivers another great performance), but also some of the war sequences, which were shocking, horrific, terrifying and astounding. The sequences are so graphic that we canít help but be moved but what is transpiring on the screen in front of us.

The only small negative to The Great Raid, is that the film does feel a bit flat and low Ė mostly due to some characters not being fully developed. Still, when The Great Raid succeeds, it succeeds on a high level making the film worth a watch for history or drama fans looking for a solid film.


The Great Raid is presented in a 1080p High Definition 2:40:1 widescreen aspect ratio. The absolute best thing about this transfer, and this is probably due to the nature of the film at hand, is immaculate and intense detail that Miramax has put into this picture.

Colors range from being excellent at times (forest scenery) to somewhat unimpressive in the brighter sequences (sky sequences). Luckily for us, whenever we get these types of lackluster images, we are then treated to such an amazing picture that is extremely rich in detail. Parts of the forest, like the leaves and branches, are almost brought to life. This transfer also contained a good amount of detail in the facial features Ė as the mud, dirt and debris show the horror of war and the pain the fighting men, women, the civilians go through. I must comment that I donít think Iíve seen such rich detail in the facial department, since I saw the film Ray on the competing HD-DVD.

The recent wave of Blu-Ray titles have really shown what the format is capable of in regards to solid video. The Great Raid continues this tradition as the level of detail, as mentioned above, is excellent. With this being Miramaxís first offering on Blu-ray, Iím eager to see what else they have to offer.


Presented in an English 5.1 uncompressed (48 kHz/16-bit) audio track, The Great Raid, as most war-type films, sounds really great when the correct moments arrive.

The obvious scenes where this track truly shines are the battle sequences. Here the bass is the most powerful and responsive creating that ĎIím thereí type feeling. During these sequences, unfortunately, the surrounds donít get much of an overall response, which was a disappointment. Even though the bass was strong and responsive, the feeling of zooming and zipping bullets ringing throughout the room and your ears would have been nice.

Comparing the two provided audio tracks in the Uncompressed and the English 5.1 Dolby Digital, was quite the experience. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 was very impressive with a solid overall sound definition. However, the English 5.1 uncompressed track sounded better, creating more of an overall definition and quality particularly in the battle sequences.

Even if you do not have the setup to enjoy the uncompressed track, you will almost enjoy the DD 5.1 track as much. And that is simple a great, overall experience.

Special Features

Audio Commentary with Director John Dahl, Producer Mary Katz, Technical Advisor Captain Dale Dye, Editor Scott Chestnut, and Author Hampton Sides: WOW. I was completely blown away by this commentary track as I figured with five different participants, that each of there comments would become uneven and out of place. What I got instead was a solid, informative and fun listen. Itís extremely obvious that each of these participants spent quite a lot of their time involved in this film giving it all they had. For those of you who like your commentaries to be informative, this is your commentary.

Final Thoughts

When The Great Raid succeeds, which is does more often than not, it succeeds on a high level. Although this disc looks and sounds great, the lack of extras and a high pricepoint of $34.99 make this one hard to recommend for purchase. If only there had been a few more features, this one would have made an easy recommendation, that being said, this one gets a very strong rental recommendation.
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