During World War II, Japanese naval officer Captain Tsuruhiko Kuroda (Mifune) is stranded on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean. He soon discovers a loudmouthed American pilot (Marvin) who has crashed his plane. Unable to communicate verbally, the two enemies initially taunt each other and refuse to cooperate. But when they begin to face starvation, dehydration and exhaustion, they are forced to put aside their differences and rely on one another for survival.
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The film contains these tropes:
- Enemy Mine: The American and Kuroda are enemies of war. But when it comes to surviving on an island? Teamwork!
- Kill 'Em All: At the end of the movie, the American soldier and the Japanese soldier seem to be about to turn on each other - and then a bomb kills them.
- Minimalist Cast: The film only stars 2 actors. What did you expect?
- No Name Given: The American pilot's name is never stated in the movie or the ending credits.
- Rated M for Manly: As a war film, 2 men surviving on an island and fighting each other is just too manly!
- Robinsonade: The two leads are marooned on an island in World War II. Neither understand the other's language, and after a period of hostility, work together to survive and escape the island.