TL;DR – A look at the side of WW2 that does not get shown often, which is full of moments that overwhelm you but also full of awkwardness.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene
If there is one conflict that has been extensively explored on screen, it is World War Two. Indeed in 2017, we got three different films that explored Dunkirk. Even with all of this coverage, there are still aspects of WWII that have not received the same attention. One of those aspects is the Chinese front which is where our film is set. It started years before the main war and went on to the very end, but we don’t explore it nearly enough. Well, today we look at a film that is trying to change this, and a film backed by the juggernauts of Tencent and Alibaba.
So to set the scene, we open with the collapse of the front lines of the National Revolutionary Army during The Battle of Shanghai. With the Imperial Japanese Army taking the outskirt town of Dachang the city has been lost. However, there is still hope in the retreat. The Revolutionary Army decides to leave a small contingent of troops behind at Sihang Warehouse led by Colonel Xie Jinyuan (Du Chun). They aim to stall the Imperial Army long enough to allow for the retreat of the rest of the army. The second aim is to be an example to the Western powers that have not yet picked a side. This is because the Warehouse is situated right next to the International Settlement in Shanghai, so for one brief moment, the whole world is focused on them. Now because this is a film based on a real event, we will be discussing parts of the plot in a little more depth than we usually would, so please be careful as there may be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
TL;DR – A powerful and deeply compelling film that explores a key moment in Australia’s military history and the cost it took.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is a credit sequence and a mid-credit scene
Australia has a long history of making truly excellent war films. From works
such as the pivotal Gallipoli to Beneath Hill 60 to The Rats of Tobruk and many more. So walking in I knew that there
was a level of quality that was going to be there no matter what. However, for
me, I can either be drawn in fully to war film or I can bounce off it like Andy
Dwyer off an ambulance, so there was still a little hesitation. But I should
not have been concerned because this is some of the best of Australian cinema
at the moment.
So to set the scene, it is 1966 and it is the height of the Vietnam War, a Cold
War proxy conflict between the USA and the Soviet Union played out in the
context of a civil war between North and South Vietnam. The 1st
Australian Task Force headed by Brigadier David Jackson (Richard Roxburgh) is
set up in Nui Dat where they send patrols out into the local countryside. One
night the camp is attacked by mortars and while the Royal Regiment of New
Zealand Artillery were able to target them, the 1st Field Regiment, need to
follow up the next day to find the source. Alpha Company didn’t find much, so
part in punishment Harry Smith’s (Travis Fimmel) Delta Company was sent out to
chase them down while a musical performance was happening back at camp. All was
going well until at the rubber plantation at Long Tan the 11th
Platoon of D Company came under heavy fire and it is soon discovered that this
is not just a raiding party but a full battalion of the North Vietnamese Army
heading their way, 100 men against and advance of 2000 and a monsoon is just
about to hit.