Tale of two warriors forced to co-exist. Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune comprise the entire cast of this World War II drama, directed with an uncertain hand by John Boorman.
Story [by Reuben Bercovitch] takes off with the discovery by Mifune that he no longer is alone on a desolate Pacific island. Pair stalk each other, then attempt to outwit each other, finally collaborate on survival in the form of a raft.
Mifune’s unrestrained grunting and running about create an outdated caricature of an Oriental. Marvin has sardonic lines which resemble wisecracks, intended for on-lookers. The subtle humor which was meant to exist becomes overpowering.
Lalo Schifrin could not have served worse the purposes of the film. Phony suspense bits – snapping twigs, etc. – are punched to death through maladroit composing. Net effect of this is the impression that there have got to be 50 musicians lurking just off-camera.
Marvin’s arresting screen presence requires appreciative surrounding characters, none of which are present, or meant to be.
Mifune gets few chances to project three-dimensional characterization.