|Number of Discs:||1|
|Film Country:||United Kingdom|
Average review score based on 7 user reviews
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Based on the 1962 James Clavell novel "King Rat" about a WWII Japanese POW camp (Changi) in Singapore. The movie focuses on the harshness of life as a POW. Corporal King, an American prisoner, has a knack for survival, working the system and understanding the basics of human existence on the fringe in an alternate reality far from the normal social orders. Although the movie adaptation of the Clavell's novel is enjoyable to watch, I personally would recommend watching the movie first and then reading the original work, as the movie will be a disappointment if you read the novel first (as it usually is).
WWII story of Allied POW's languishing in misery and starvation. This story is set in Changi Prison, deep in Japanese held territory, where any prisoner could be shot or beaten to death at any time for any reason, or no reason at all. You see, to the Japanese, if you were a prisoner, you were no longer a man or even a human being because you didn't take your own life! So, to them, you were nothing but some animal to work, starve, and kill, when you were of no more use to them.
Changi contained around ten thousand prisoners, mostly British, Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, and a few Americans, and death lurked around every corner. If you were caught stealing food, you were shot. If you didn't answer or obey immediately, you were shot. If you tried to bribe a guard, you were shot. And, if you didn't try any of these, you probably starved to death. This is the problem practically everyone faced every day.
American Corporal King (George Segal) is one of the prisoners in Changi prison. He made a decision early on to do whatever it takes to survive this hell. Most of the other prisoners fell into one of three categories; they either despised him (as most did), admired him, or liked him. He had a circle of friends, mostly Americans, who allied themselves to him. They didn't necessarily like him, but by doing so, they ate and survived. All around the camp, men were starving or dying of dysentery, but Corporal King was in remarkably good health. King was a "wheeler-dealer". He grew up on the mean streets of some hell-hole city, and learned how to survive. It was no different here. The Japanese guards were like anybody else, greedy! A wrist watch here, a gold ring there, a cigarette lighter, or a gold cigarette case. . .They could be bribed. The trick was not getting caught, because if you did, both them and you got shot. Corporal King was an expert at bribery, and once he bribed you, he would use it to make sure that you could be bribed again and again. He was the king of the rats scurrying around in the dark trying to survive, "The King Rat". King had real eggs, coffee, canned foods, and other delicacies that the other prisoners could only dream of. He was well, well fed, and even had clean and pressed uniforms. In here, he was the KING! Even those "stiff upper-lipped" individuals who hated him, did his bidding and watched his back, no matter if you were a private or a general, you still had to eat or have medicine if you were dying.
This movie was full of death and danger, and full of all kinds of ways to beat the system and insights into the human nature, and a brutal look at life in a tropical prisoner of war camp. Even though this is a work of fiction, who really knows if this sort of scenario didn't actually play out many times.
It's impossible to deny that KING RAT is a brilliant example of filmmaking; however, it's also unpleasant and uncomfortable to watch, as it was no doubt intended to be. Most movies about POW camps, or even Nazi death camps, have something to say about the triumph of the human spirit. In other words, good people survive or at least get to die with dignity. In KING RAT, Corporal King survives by being greedy and opportunistic. He profits at the expense of others and is loyal to no one but himself. For a while, he seems to care about another man, but the relationship has a BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN vibe that will make heterosexuals uncomfortable, and will offend homosexuals as well because onscreen it never goes beyond friendship, and because King is, well, a rat. There is no love, hope, or true friendship in this grim film, which is probably a realistic picture of life in a prison camp. I do recommend this film, but I did not really "enjoy" it.
Tough film obout a little known part of WWII. Well done with interesting characters.The film is done in black and white which adds to its harsh reality.
The will to live and the will be on top are well played. Lots of good charector actors in this film.