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Attack Force Z (UK) (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000081432
Added by: Stuart McLean
Added on: 6/4/2006 18:30
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    Review of Attack Force Z

    6 / 10


    If you`re the kind of person who`d like a movie that`s `Where Eagles Dare` meets Andy McNabb, then you`ll probably love this movie. If you`re not, you won`t.

    Set in the South Pacific during WWII, a team of Special Forces land on an island `teeming with Japs`. Led by fresh-faced Captain Kelly (played by an impossibly youthful looking Mel Gibson), their mission is to find some important survivors of an air crash who are reported missing. One amongst them is a defecting Japanese official who holds secrets which contribute to the ending of the war. Against impossible odds (think `Enter the Dragon`! or `Lord of the Rings`), they set out determined to succeed.

    Attack Force Z was shot in `79, when Gibson was just about to break through to the big time, particularly with the first of the `Mad Max` sagas.

    Another relative newcomer who was about to make it big was Sam Neill, who followed `Attack Force Z` with a breakthrough role in `The Final Conflict`, and who has gone from strength to strength ever since. In truth, its Neill`s role that is the most interesting here as he is portrayed as a thoughtful, intelligent man caught up in the horrors of war. Everyone else is just like Action Man.

    Like many wartime movies, this one is supposedly based on `…a real WWII mission carried out by the Z-Special Unit (known as Z Force), a forerunner of the SAS, made up mostly of Australian and British volunteers.` (So says the info on the DVD wrap…)

    It`s a bloody, relentless 90 minutes that cuts straight to the chase. Whilst there`s time for a brief romance, it`s pretty much action all the way, and, despite its modest 15 rating, is certainly not for the faint hearted.

    It`s a lively and competent edit, with tight direction and nice cinematography, if a little documentary like on occasion. Even the night-time scenes hold up well.

    Of course, young Mel Gibson looks great here, though has very little dialogue to tackle. Some of his compatriots look like more likely contenders for the main role (haggard, tough, mean) though it`s Gibson who takes centre stage. But that`s filmmaking for you.


    A PAL Anamorphic widescreen transfer. There are one or two signs of wear on the print though the picture is sharp and bright.


    Just original mono. With so much action, the potential for a 5.1 reworking was there, though the budget probably wasn`t.


    There`s a stills gallery (who watches these and what for?) and a theatrical trailer (2:38), which looks pretty ragged. There`s also an informative interview featurette, "The Z Men Debriefed" (26:55) featuring interviews with producer John McCallum and minor part actors Haywood and Waters.( I guess Gibson and Neill were either unavailable or didn`t want to be reassociated with it!)


    `Attack Force Z` is the perfect movie for those who played with Action Man as boys, who loved to read Commando comics, who now read Andy McNabb and who aren`t squeamish about a bit of mindless violence.

    How true to the facts the movie is will never be known. The back of the box has a quote that reads: `The events depicted in this film are an honest and unflinching account of the type of operation carried out by our unit during the war` (Johnny Gardner, President Z Special Force Association New South Wales). If that is the case I don`t know whether to applaud or commiserate.

    Whatever the case, don`t rent or buy this movie unless wall-to-wall military action appeals. Or Mel Gibson. Or preferably both because that`s what you get here.

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