JT Film Review

Victory! (1981)

Victory! Review
Review # 162

2.5/5 stars

Director – John Huston

Cast – Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, Max von Sydwo, Pele, Maurice Roëves, Tim Pigott-Smith, Julian Curry


(Victory! is the North American title for the film also known as Escape to Victory!. Of course, being Canadian, I know it as the former.)

There is a lot of cross over between sports films and POW films. Sports films invariably feature an under dog team who are disadvantaged in some way (Remember the Titans, We Are Marshall, Bad News Bears) playing the arrogant douche-bag team. And of course, POW films inevitably pit the good ol’ Allies against “The Huns” or “The Japs”. To combine the two was either a stroke of genius or an awful idea. The problem with Victory! is that it isn’t sure which of those options got decided on. It’s luke warm, and thus will be spat out, as the saying goes.

Plot-wise, a German officer (Max von Sydow) decides to challenge the prisoners under his watch to a game of soccer, POW’s vs. guards. Once the German higher-ups hear about this they decide it will be a great propaganda move, and decide to allow Colby (Michael Caine) to round up the best soccer players held as captives in Europe, and form a team to play the German national team in Paris. Meanwhile, Hatch (Sylvester Stallone) plans an escape to occur during the halftime of the game, aided by the local Resistance.

The movie is of two minds – there is the rather carefree, fun sports movie firstly. This is the movie that Michael Caine heads. It is interesting, fun, and a touch cheeky. Stallone heads the other side – the side that deals with the Resistance, escaping POW’s, and dangerous escapes. These topics (and the associated tones) don’t necessarily clash… but somehow they found a way. To make it worse the team decides halfway through the game to not even escape, rendering half of the movie pointless. Then to top it all off we have a ridiculous ending that is vague, un-earned, and that panders embarrassingly badly to Stallone. It has to be seen to be believed. My jaw literally dropped.

Plus the DVD print was awful. (Which brings to mind the famous joke “The portions were awful, and so small.)

Now that I’ve bitched about the ending, I must admit that the beginning had me along for the ride. We see Caine training his team, and Pele showing off his bicycle kick. Max von Sydow has a great role as the kindly but firm German head-of-camp, and the interplay between he and Caine is nice. Stallone has a subplot about his awful soccer skills that mostly works, but it would have worked better if Stallone had been content to let the movie be an ensemble piece, too. Really, the whole movie would have worked better. You can practically hear him off-screen, getting himself more screen time. But come on… did he really need a romantic interest here? Did he need to save the game in slow motion?

On the other hand you have to admire him though. We never saw Schwarzenegger trying to go so far out of his comfort zone. I’ve always admires Stallone for that… he knew what he did well, but didn’t mind trying out something new once in a while. Let’s see Chuck Norris lose 40 pounds to work with a director like John Huston. No siree, bob!


Victory! is a movie that more or less fails, despite a decent first half and a surprisingly kinetic soccer game at the end. There are quite a few British actors in the background who would become standby’s of UK film; people like Tim Piggot-Smith and Maurice Roëves. Julian Curry even makes an appearance, and it’s great to see the actor known mostly for the excellent Rumpole of the Bailey series get some work.

But unfortunately the movie can’t find the right tone, miscasts Stallone horribly, and hands us a ludicrous ending. So much for that!


Victory! on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia



October 12, 2012 Posted by | 2.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - War, Year - 1980-1989 | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Upcoming Movies – Throwback-Action Double Header

Upcoming Movies – Throwback-Action Double Header
(The Last Stand Opening Date: January 18, 2013)
(Bullet to the Head Opening Date: February 1, 2013)

Studios seem to be trying to capitalize on the release of The Expendables 2 by releasing two trailers for solo efforts by both Arnie and Sly. Is this a new era in their careers, or just a false start to more decline? Only history will tell. We’ll see!


1. First up (in release order) is Arnie’s The Last Stand. Directed by Jee-woon Kim (probably best known to us for The Good, the Bad, and the Weird). This is Schwarzenegger’s first lead role after backing away from politics, and he is back to the kind of movie he loves best. He plays the sheriff of a quiet town which will soon see the arrival of fleeing Mexican drug runners. In a very Gary Copper way, he finds himself rallying the town’s people to defend themselves (or something like that.) Here’s the trailer.

Action movies always stick close to a formula, so it’s perhaps unfair to compare the plot to High Noon, but that flavour is there. Movies of this sort seem to rely on a lead with enough personality, a bit of humour here and there, and good action. Arnold certainly has a distinct personality, and the director has done well before, so I find myself being cautiosly optimistic about this one!

 Tomatometer Rating Guess: 67%


2. Next up is Stallone’s Bullet to the Head. Stallone is a lone wolf-type who is recruited by a young cop t hunt down the man who killed Stallone’s old partner. The “one last job” scenario. Chrstian Slater and Forest Whitakker make breif appearances in the trailer, while the bad guy is played by none other than Jason Momoa (of Game of Thrones and Conan fame). Here’s the trailer.

Now I am more a fan of Sly than Arnie, so I am more inclined to see Bullet in the Head, but I think Arnie’s looks better. It certainly seems to have a cleaner focus, but Bullet could surprise us with some unrevealed plot detail or character depth *cough*. It brings the humour too.

 Tomatometer Rating Guess: 45%


Thoughts? Are you for Sly or Arnie? Are you even interested? Leave your thoughts below!


August 17, 2012 Posted by | Upcoming Movies | , , , , , , | 1 Comment