Farewell To The King

Released March 3, 1989

Nick Nolte (Learoyd), Nigel Havers (Capt. Fairbourne). Frank McRae (Sgt. Tenga), Gerry Lopez (Gwai), Marilyn Tokuda (Yoo), Choy Chang Wing (Lien), Aki Aleong (Col. Mitamura), Marius Weyers (Sgt. Conklin), William Wise (Dynamite Dave), Wayne Pygram (Bren Armstrong), Rich¬ard Morgan (Stretch Lewis), Elan Oberon (Vivienne), James Fox (Col. Ferguson), Michael Nissman (Gen. Suth¬erland), John Bennett Perry (Gen. MacArthur). Once again writer-director John Milius attempts to re-cre¬ate the sort of epic romantic adventure typical of 19th-cen¬tury literature, only to fail miserably due to his basic ineptness as a writer and filmmaker. While he strives to emulate Conrad and Kipling, his work is really much closer to the daydreams of a lonely 10-year-old boy—and about as insightful. Nick Nolte stars as Sgt. Learoyd, a war-weary American soldier who deserts in Borneo at the height of WW II. Two years later, British army captain Fairboume (Nigel Havers) and his sergeant, Tenga (Frank McRae), parachute into Borneo to enlist the help of Learoyd, who has become the leader of a tribe of Dayak headhunters, in fighting the Japanese. At first Learoyd refuses, but after much talk of the inevitability of history, the "king" agrees to help, with the stipulation that he receive a document signed by Gen. Douglas MacArthur recognizing Learoyd's sovereignty and the Dayaks' right to remain autonomous after the defeat of the Japanese. After the treaty is signed, Learoyd assembles a group of war¬riors, joins a small group of crack Allied commandos, and launches a series of guerilla attacks against the Japanese. Milius' typically muddled and pernicious right-wing politics aside, FAREWELL TO THE KING simply isn't a very good movie. As was the case with CONAN THE BARBARIAN and RED DAWN, FAREWELL TO THE KING boasts a sce¬nario bursting with opportunities to showcase stunning action sequences, only to have that potential squandered by a director who doesn't know how to stage them. Even worse are his basic narrative skills; stitched together with such unwieldy cinematic devices as poorly deployed flash¬backs and awkward narration, the film lurches along like a car with a broken clutch. Luckily, the film does boast a remarkably physical performance from Nolte, who toughs it out and is fairly memorable in a role fraught with poten¬tially humiliating pitfalls. "

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