I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fan of soccer. I can appreciate the athleticism involved, and don’t have anything against the sport, but I just don’t keep up with it nor am I particularly fond of it. However, I do enjoy war films, and Victory brings war and sports together quite nicely, so, thanks to Warner Bros. Archives, I am getting to review 1981’s Victory on Blu-ray.
Starring Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, and Pele (yes, that Pele) as POW’s in a German camp during World War II, Victory tells the story of a friendly wager between an Allied POW and his German captor – a friendly game of soccer between two fans of the sport. However, the German propaganda machine took this idea and ran with it, creating a giant spectacle pitting the best of Germany’s players against a group of captured soldiers.
Stallone plays Capt. Hatch, an escape-bent Yank (American) who convinces the higher ranked prisoners to let him attempt an escape from the showers. However, when news of the upcoming soccer match, it is determined that he should get out and plot a grand escape of the entire POW soccer team right out from under the German’s noses.
While Hatch does get free of the camp, and rendezvous with the resistance, it is short lived freedom, as he is needed to return to convey the plan to the rest of the team. Furthermore, it would appear that there is more to escaping at line here, and the team must be all in together in their next move.
Victory is exactly what I want from Warner Bros. Archives – an interesting backlog title brought to HD for a new generation of viewers. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and like I said, soccer isn’t all that exciting to me. But seeing Caine and Stallone playing off each other while putting Hitler’s Germany to shame was just a lot of fun.
It is always difficult to rate or criticize older films on visual and audio quality. Given the technology these days you can count the individual hairs on peoples faces and hear a pin drop a floor above you during a firefight. However, there is something to be said about the care given to these older titles. Victory looks fantastic in 1080p, with a really crisp picture with an appropriate amount of grain and a great amount of detail.
Similarly, the audio track doesn’t suffer from it’s age either, especially given that it is “just” a 2 channel Master Audio track. While this war film doesn’t have the excitement of battles and gunfights, it does have a particularly exciting soccer match that provides a great audio experience with the crowds cheering and the players giving it their all.
And I know that I harp a lot about the age of the film, even though this is just from the early 80s. But 40 years of improvements to audio and visual create quite a gap. If you look up screenshots of this movie even on DVD the difference is astounding. I have a high praise of people who restore older movies, and they don’t get enough credit for making these look as good as new.
This Blu-ray release comes in a standard blue case with a Blu-ray disc. Sadly, the only other special feature is the trailer for the film.
Our Recommendation for Victory:
Don’t let your views on soccer disuade you from this fantastic (and semi-true) WWII POW flick. Seeing younger Caine and Stallone play a game of tug of war at cooperation is satisfying and entertaining to say the least. The only downside with this release is that there isn’t more content, but even so, I recommend giving it a shot.