Rescue Dawn DVD Review
by Kam Williams
Vietnam War POW Bio-Pic Released on DVD
Dieter Dengler (1938-2001) grew up in Germany during World War II which is where he whetted his lifelong desire to become a pilot. However, by the time he was 18, he realized had no prospects of pursuing that dream in his native Deutschland.
So, he emigrated to America and enlisted in the Navy. And right after graduating from flight school in 1966, he was assigned to duty aboard an aircraft carrier headed for Vietnam. Soon, Lieutenant Dengler's Skyraider was hit by anti-aircraft fire while flying on a bombing mission, and theplane crash-landed in Laos where he was eventually apprehended and marched to a POW camp.
While imprisoned, he was subjected to unimaginable forms of torture, until he executed a well-planned escape. Near death after scavenging in the forest for a couple of months, Dengler was finally spotted and rescued by a squadron of helicopters.
A decade ago, this awe-inspiring tale of survival was the subject of a compelling documentary directed by Werner Herzog entitled Little Dieter Needs to Fly. Now, Herzog has turned the same story into an equally-riveting bio-pic with the help of the latest nonpareil performance by Christian Bale as Dengler. Shot on location in a lush region of a remote Thai jungle, the visually-engaging production benefits immeasurably from the unrelenting tension enabled by relying on authentic Southeast Asian settings.
Credit Bale with stamping the adventure with a palpable sense of urgency by throwing himself wholeheartedly into his role by shedding plenty of pounds to get that gaunt POW look. Plus, he did all his own stunt work with a gung ho enthusiasm which ostensibly inspired co-stars Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies to deliver their personal best performances as Dengler's fellow captives.
Further proof that Christian Bale might be the best actor around never nominated for an Oscar.
Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for war violence and graphically-depicted torture.
Running time: 126 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Alternate and deleted scenes, audio commentary with the director, MGM previews, still photo gallery, and "The Making of" featurette.
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