A Community that Fights

August 18, 2005

My wife and I went to the movie “The Big Raid”, and decided that it was the best war movie we had ever seen. That is not to say we have gone to all that many. Neither of us is all that hawkish, and we certainly don’t appreciate seeing people die in the line of duty, especially since our son was in Iraq. But we have seen a few. This one didn’t have the raw realism of “Saving Private Ryan” or “Black Hawk Down” (I don’t get into raw realism anyway, so I didn’t miss it). It didn’t have the big name actors of “We Were Soldiers” or the “Dirty Dozen”… or the special effects of “The Deer Hunter” or “Apocalypse Now”.

Here’s what it did have: A great story about noble people doing what no one else has ever done.

(There are no spoilers in my review btw…but for two other reviews of this film with a few spoilers…but a review that nonetheless captured the same thing I saw, go to here and here.)

It is about an Army Ranger unit in WW2 in the Philippines that is given the assignment to get 520 Prisoners of War out of a POW camp before the Japanese killed all of them (which did happen at other camps in the Philippines…the Japanese believed that their Slash and Burn policies demoralized the advancing enemy). This unit’s Colonel describes the Rangers as the “Best trained, least utilized company in the entire Army”.

It is a story about a Lithuanian nurse that works with the Philippino Underground to smuggle in thousands of doses of Quinine for the men in the camp who suffered horribly from Malaria. (btw…I had malaria in West Africa in 1978…the malaria scenes are unbelievably realistic. Take it from one who sweated and shook it out with my brothers in this movie).

It is the story of a Colonel and a Captain who trust each other even though both look like stubborn idiots several times throughout the operation. They both prove to be geniuses.

It is the story of a Philippino commando unit that knows they will probably be killed, but volunteers to take the hardest assignment to help pay back the debt they owe to an entire village that was massacred to save their lives.

And, it is about a plan that worked so well, it still stands as the greatest of its kind in American military history.

Here’s what I took home from it. People who learn to live in community and trust one another’s strengths will live with victory and achievement…as opposed to those who trust only themselves and live outside of real community. I learned that sometimes you have to pay back those who have sacrificed for you by giving the same sacrifices for someone else. I learned that real leaders go first and stay last. And, I learned that we all die…but rarely do many people die well.

Many reviewers in the MSM did not like this film. Their reasons amounted to this: a) It is not as exciting as other war movies; b) It made the raid more important than the character development of the people involved.



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