Film / The Great Raid

A 2005 film, directed by John Dahl and starring Benjamin Bratt, James Franco, Connie Nielsen, and Joseph Fiennes, about the real life rescue of World War II POWs by American Rangers from the notorious Japanese prison camp of Cabanatuan. Despite the inherent drama, the film did not do well at the box office.

Contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Max Martini as an Army Ranger.
  • Based on a True Story:
  • Buzzing the Deck: Used as a way of distracting the guards while Allied forces got into position.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: A starving American prisoner is tied to a post, savagely beaten, and left to die in the tropical heat in the first ten minutes. Just a small taste of Truth in Television. In real life, the Imperial Japanese Army was much worse.
    • Margaret Utinsky's ordeal at the hands of the Kempeitei is heavily condensed and toned down. The real Utinsky was held for 32 days, beaten and gang-raped daily. On one day, five Filipino civilians were beheaded right in front of her. On another, an American POW was tied to the bars of her cell and beaten to death so violently that pieces of his flesh were lodged in her hair.
  • Determinator: The Japanese commanding officer of the POW camp goes to ridiculous lengths to inflict more casualties after his men are massacred.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Army Rangers and Army Alamo Scouts are the main US troops in charge with freeing the POWs.
  • Filipinos with Firearms: Filipino resistance fighters, led by Captain Juan Pajota and Captain Eduardo Josonnote , aid the Rangers. In fact, the largest pitched battle in the movie, as in real life, is Pajota's force holding the bridge against a massed assault by Japanese tanks and infantry.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: None of the Rangers, Alamo Scouts, or Guerillas are seen wearing helmets, only caps, or no hats at all. Justified, since wearing them would most probably give away their position to Japanese patrols.
  • Honor Before Reason: Again the Japanese POW camp commanding officer. he completely disregards personal safety after most his troops are killed to try to inflict casualties to the Rangers and prisoners.
  • Kick the Dog: Numerous. All of them are Truth in Television, as the Japanese in WWII weren't exactly known for sticking to the Geneva Convention.
  • La Résistance: The Filipino guerillas.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: When the raid kicks off, the Japanese soldier at the main gate is hit by so many rifles simultaneously that his entire upper body disintegrates. Some may roll their eyes, but it really did happen that way.
  • Noble Bigot: While he is undoubtedly a hero, Lt. Col. Mucci is still a man of his time and displays a vehement dislike against atheists at the end of his speech informing the men of their mission. Some of his comments toward Capt. Pajota and his Filipino guerrillas were also patronizing.
  • Oh, Crap!: When the Kempeitai military secret police move into the camp.
  • PoW Camp: Yet another example of a Japanese camp where you don't want to be a camper.
  • Race Lift: The Catholic Monsignor in Manila who helped the Filipino resistance and sheltered Margaret Utinsky was actually German. He was strongly antifascist and vehemently opposed the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese. The screenwriters felt that the exposition of his background would be distracting, so they just made him Irish in the movie.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: It's implied that the Japanese Kempeitei sexually abused Margaret Utinsky while she was locked up. In real life, Utinsky was gang-raped dozens of times by interrogators and guards for over a month.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The huge disparity in casualties led some critics to lambast the film as unrealistic, even though the very few American and Filipino casualties was exactly what happened in the real raid.
    • Some reviewers also criticized the Japanese atrocities for being too "over-the-top" in brutality, even racist, even though the the atrocities shown were much more toned down than what the Imperial Japanese military did in real life.
  • Terrifying Rescuer: Many prisoners don't realize the rangers are friendly because after being brutalized for so long, they're afraid it's another Japanese trick to get them "disciplined."
    • The US Army had changed its combat uniforms and much of its field gear by 1945. The Bataan survivors in the camp had never seen the current uniform, and thus didn't recognize the Rangers as Americans.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Averted. The actual raid goes pretty much as planned.
  • Weapons Understudies: In order to provide cover for the Rangers as they make the final approach to the camp, an airplane is sent to overfly the area to distract the Japanese, allowing them to get into position without being spotted. This occurred during the historical raid, in which a P-61 Black Widow night fighter was sent under orders to alter his power settings to make it sound from the ground as if he were experiencing an engine failure. However there are no remaining airworthy P-61s, so instead the film utilized a Lockheed PV Ventura light bomber for this scene.
  • We Need a Distraction: An airplane is sent to overfly the camp to distract the guards, see Weapons Understudies.
  • Zerg Rush: After the bridge is partially damaged, the Japanese reinforcement try to rush through it to reach the POW camp and get massacred by the Filipino guerrila fighters.