Written by / 1/21/2014 / 1 Comment / , , , , , ,

SYLVESTER STALLONE & MICHAEL CAINE KICK IN 'VICTORY'

year of capture and release: 1981
Often perceived as a GREAT ESCAPE clone, and somewhat resembling THE LONGEST YARD, this John Huston directed Sylvester Stallone project winds up a WWII version of an obscure Vietnam War flick titled THE BOYS IN COMPANY C.

Within a German POW camp, Michael Caine plays Major John Colby, a once-great British soccer star heading a ragtag prison team, viewed by Max Von Sydow’s Major Steiner, who, recognizing Colby, sets up a YARD style scrimmage between the cons and the guards… But this initial plan doesn’t go far.

The Nazi propaganda machine wants a legit game to occur in occupied Paris. Here’s where the escape wheels spin by the imprisoned intellectual Brits…

Yet American Sylvester Stallone, as the new Steve McQueen style Cooler King, Captain Robert Hatch, likes this game plan most of all… only Caine’s Major Colby wants nothing to do with him. But the aggressive Hatch, who eventually winds up a better goalie than kicker, begs to join the team… they get a cozy barracks and three square meals a day… but for selfish reasons only – he desperately yearns for a solo breakout.

Pele Exploitation
An energetic practice montage aside, the best sequence has the rogue American given a tactical pre-game mission while director John Huston keeps the suspense edgy and unpredictable: as Hatch sneaks around and about the prison, the camera’s kept low and dark, as if we too were escaping.

This is followed by a brief pocket of downtime after Hatch is safe within the confine of a French Resistance group, wherein a disposable love interest is introduced (the ridiculously gorgeous, French Natalie Wood lookalike Carole Laure).

rates: ***1/2
The anticipated rivalry takes up the entire third act and, like soccer often can, the match is stretched-out, hard to follow and not as involving as, for instance, the football game in THE LONGEST YARD or even Robert Altman’s MASH… Here’s where the climactic BOYS IN COMPANY C plotline unveils: a 1978 film in which a group of American soldiers in Vietnam take part in a soccer match against the enemy, and wind up choosing possible triumph over probable freedom.

A semi-conceived halftime escape, surreptitiously tunneled out  by the Resistance through a THIRD MAN style underground sewer, seemed much too easy to begin with: Leading back to the game involving shots of real players highlighted by Brazilian star PelĂ© (an impressive back-flip goal-kick is repeated three times in slow motion), whose exploitative “special guest” appearance made more sense to audiences than was logical to the storyline. The iconic athlete's casting trumped even the A-list Stallone, who, with help from the always-capable Caine, turns in an above par performance, shining brighter than his usual action fare and yet, like other Sly flicks, you’ll suspend the same amount of testosterone-pumping disbelief backed by another radiant (if melodramatic and overdone) Bill Conti score.
One of those movie images of irony by the director: VICTORY by veteran director John Huston
She's pointless in the movie, but gorgeous: here's Carole Laure in VICTORY Carole Laure
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1 comment:

  1. Great minds...

    I just was having a conversation with two of my friends from Texas about this movie two days ago. Pele and soccer came up and I said I hated all things soccer BUT I dug Pele and I LOVED the movie VICTORY that he was in, along with Sly of course.

    Ah THE BOYS IN COMPANY C, always has been a personal favorite. Love that movie.

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