Victory (Escape To Victory) (1981)

JOHN HUSTON

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.  USA, 1981.  Lorimar Film Entertainment, Victory Company, New Gold Entertainment.  Story by , , , Screenplay by , Yabo Yablonsky.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Sylvester Stallone and Pele in Victory

A year after this film’s release,  would win the Vietnam War single-handedly with a machine gun, but did you know that before this he settled World War II with a soccer game? That’s the strange set-up to this dull adventure by John Huston, one that lacks the thrills of The Great Escape or Soldier Of Orange but also isn’t self-consciously ridiculous enough to be the conclusion of MASH. Stallone is an American soldier imprisoned with British POWs in a German camp (because he enlisted in Canada), whose commandant () strikes up a bargain with fellow inmate and former soccer coach  to pit their best German players against his own fine athletes. Caine agrees to the match provided that his team has access to better living conditions than they have already been used to, while his fellow prisoners discover that this is the perfect opportunity to stage an escape concurrent with the game. When they get to the big match, which does have some exciting moments and great footage of its professional athlete cast members doing their finest work (including  and his marvelous bicycle kick), their opportunities for self-preservation are pitted, quite ridiculously, against their desire to be heroes for a depressed population. It would be a lot more moving if its vision of the era wasn’t somewhere on par with Hogan’s Heroes, not to mention a cast of good actors playing dull roles and the barely visible direction by Huston.

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