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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Hell in the Pacific [Blu-ray]


(John Boorman, 1968)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Selmur Productions

Video: Kino Lorber



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:41:47.101 with alternate ending: 1:43:10.225

Disc Size: 38,135,521,172 bytes

Feature Size: 21,673,580,544 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.74 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: June 27th, 2017



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTTS-HD Master Audio English 1560 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1560 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps



English, None



• Audio Commentary by Film Historians Travis Crawford and Bill Ackerman
Interview with Director John Boorman (33:16)
Alternate Ending
Interview with Art Director Anthony Pratt (10:46)

Five Trailers (none for Hell in the Pacific)





Description: From John Boorman, the director of Deliverance and Excalibur comes this gripping adventure about two wartime enemies trapped alone on a deserted island. Screen legends Lee Marvin (Prime Cut, Monte Walsh, The Dirty Dozen) and Toshiro Mifune (Yojimbo, The Challenge) deliver striking and well-etched performances in this searing psychological drama that packs plenty of action and excitement. From the instant they meet, a marooned American soldier (Marvin) and his Japanese counterpart (Mifune) have the same objective: to kill 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? Two of the film's best features are the terrific color photography by the great Conrad Hall (In Cold Blood) and original musical score by the legendary Lalo Schifrin (Bullitt).



The Film:

The entire cast of Hell in the Pacific consists of two high-powered international stars: Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune. The time is World War II. A downed American marine pilot (Marvin), is stalked on a remote Pacific island by a Japanese navy officer (Mifune). The Japanese officer captures the American, but this situation is reversed when he manages to wriggle free. The two enemies finally decide to live and let live, each moving to their own separate portion of the island. By and by the adversaries come to rely upon one another to survive; they set up living quarters in a deserted camp, get drunk together, and almost -- but not quite -- become friends. The present ending of Hell in the Pacific is greatly at odds with director John Boorman's original vision, in which the Japanese officer angrily kills two Japanese soldiers who have come across the American and decapitated him. As it now stands, viewers are left with an explosive "lady or the tiger" denouement.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

At the height of World War II an American airman (Lee Marvin) and a Japanese soldier (Toshiro Mifune) find themselves stranded on an otherwise uninhabited pacific island.

The men stalk each other and finally face off on the beach. Each imagines killing the other, but neither acts on it. They play a game of cat-and-mouse for a while, each being alternatively helped and hindered by the four elements.

Eventually, the Japanese takes the American prisoner. The American escapes and turns the tables on his former captor. Then, in spite of advice in his army manual that, in a situation like this, one should dispose of the enemy, he frees the Japanese.

Excerpt from EyeForFilm located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The dual-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of Hell in the Pacific looks soft and thick which may well be an accurate appearance. DoP Conrad L. Hall's cinematography is impressive shooting in the Micronesian Palau Islands. Thee are strong colors and improved detail in the close-ups. There is no gloss, depth and little tightness.  The source is clean, and I noticed only modest blotchy noise - but I was expecting the image to be a bit sharper. The 'alternate ending' version is seamlessly-branched and is of the same quality. For what it's worth - it looks like film thickness as opposed to digitization, although the grain does not seem prominent. This Blu-ray looks solid in-motion, better than the static captures below.




















Audio :

Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1560 kbps (16-bit) in the original English language. I believe the film had a 4-Track Stereo system and this may have been a missed opportunity to include some form of surround option. There are effects in the film - with beach/ocean sounds plus other more aggressive sounds. The score is by Argentinean Lalo Schifrin (famous as the guy behind the Mission: Impossible theme as well as The Osterman Weekend, Day of the Animals, Hit!, Man on a Swing, Tango and many other films.) His score for Hell in the Pacific has a couple of wild, jazzy saxophone riffs and works well, if surprising considering their usage. The whole score is excellent in the lossless. The, infrequent, dialogue was clear and there are optional English subtitles offered (for both English and Japanese) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

The first thing we get is to see the, complete, film with an alternate ending (it runs about 1.5 minutes longer). There is an excellent audio commentary by film historians Travis Crawford and Bill Ackerman who bring up many interesting stories about the production, relevant data on John Boorman, Lee Marvin, Toshirô Mifune, composer Lalo Schifrin and others. I thought it was extremely well-researched and highly interesting. There is a 1/2 hour interview with director John Boorman who discusses Hell in the Pacific - with stories about looking for an island without coconut palms, the alternate script difficulties, working with Mifune (some stories are also recounted in the commentary), his unhappiness with the ending etc. It's very informative. Also included is a 10-minute interview with Art Director Anthony Pratt about his experiences with Hell in the Pacific. Lastly there are 5 trailers (none for Hell in the Pacific.)



Hell in the Pacific is a fascinating film - even more so knowing the back-story of the production. It was a bold effort and it works wonderfully well. The performances are brilliant. The Kino Lorber
Blu-ray has such valuable extras. This is a pretty easy recomednation. I was deeply impressed with the film and supplements of the package.  NOTE: At the writing of this review it is 42% OFF at Amazon.

Gary Tooze

June 21st, 2017


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze





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