#263/ 365 – ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ (1957) – 161 mins
IMDb Challenge #154 / 250 – Ranked #80 – DVD Collection
A squad of British soldiers arrive at a Japanese POW camp in the Burmese jungle, and after some conflict between their respective leaders, they are co-opted into building a railway bridge across the River Kwai. Meanwhile, the Allies plan a mission to blow-up the bridge before it can be used.
David Lean English film director , producer, screenwriter, and editor and above all one the ‘kings’ of epic filmmaking of yesteryear. The Bridge on the River Kwai was the first of Leans epic phase where he later prodigiously outputted – ‘Lawrence of Arabia, ‘Doctor Zhivago’, ‘Ryans Daughter’ and ‘A Passage to India’.
What is most intriguing about this WWII film is that it’s not about war, well not in the traditional sense. The pivotal point of the film which is the most memorable and where the movie really excels, sees Alec Guinness who is magnetic as the defiantly stubborn Colonel Nicholson who has great honour and integrity with a traditional British stiff upper lip, offering a fantastic and classic battle of wills with his Japanese counterpart Col. Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) over the refusal that his officers take part in manual labour. Where the film doesn’t excel though is through its sub-plot of the actual blowing up of the bridge, lead by the American hero-prisoner Major Shears (William Holden).
Overall The Bridge on the River Kwai as fantastic pacing along its indefatigable 161 minutes, and the acting throughout the cast is outstanding as much as the flawless character drama on offer. There are oodles of spectacle and grand cinematography on display in what you would come to expect from any of Lean’s visual epics. On top there’s the instantly recognisable and iconic Colonel Bogey March whistle, which you can’t help but put your lips together whilst watching.
The Bridge on the River Kwai went onto win seven Academy Awards including Best Director and Actor for Lean and Guinness – It was destined to become a classic upon its release, it did become a classic, and it still remains a classic.
#264/ 365 – ‘Real Steel’- 127 mins
Cinema Challenge #107 / 115
In the year 2020, boxing as we know it is over. Men have been replaced by 2,000 pound, eight foot tall steel robots who take part in corporate, big-money fights. But away from the expensive arenas and lucrative sponsorship deals, there’s a thriving underground scene. It’s here that we meet Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman). He’s a washed-up former boxer who ekes out a living bolting together bits and bobs of scrap metal to create low-end fighting ‘bots. But when even this precarious existence is threatened, Charlie reluctantly teams up with his estranged son Max (Dakota Goyo) in the hope of building and training a real championship contender…
Real Steel is to the world of robot boxing, as what Rocky is to the world of human boxing mainly because both strike a brilliant and inspirational relationship story. In Real Steel case its the touching father-son story between Max and Charlie which is given much more prominence than its robotic action plot.
Dakota Goyo is watchable as the young and wise Max. Hugh Jackman delivers a typically solid performance with charisma as Charlie. Evangeline Lilly comes off as slightly one-dimensional as Charlie’s long-suffering friend and potential love interest Bailey.
Real Steel doesn’t disappoint in its nicely choreographed fight scenes between Atom the underdog and Zeus, the imposing, undefeated techno champion, using some state-of-the-art performance capture technology.
Real Steal is a testament to the power of clichés done right and this is where the film works so well much of it thanks to John Gatins (‘Coach Carter’) screenplay which gives the film a gratifying, warmhearted story and is a hugely enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.