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Rescue Dawn

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Rescue Dawn + Little Dieter Needs to Fly
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Real-life story of a US fighter pilot Dengler, shot down and captured during the Vietnam War. Christian Bale as Dengler, plans a death-defying escape.


In the tradition of The Great Escape and The Deer Hunter, Rescue Dawn is Werner Herzog's take on the pulse-pounding POW genre. Unlike most such efforts, however, his isn't just based on a true story, it's a remake of his 1997 documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly. German-born Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale, who first made his mark in Steven Spielberg’s prison camp drama Empire of the Sun) has longed to pilot a plane since he was a boy. When he joins the Navy during the Vietnam War, he gets his wish. Then he's shot down over Laos. Though he survives, Dengler is captured by the Pathet Lao. Through his internment, he meets Duane Martin (Steve Zahn in his finest performance), with whom he becomes fast friends. While Dengler is arrogant and resourceful, Martin is patient and humble. With Dengler's assistance, the prisoners escape, but the untamed wilderness turns out to be just as dangerous (cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger ably captures its cruel beauty). Those who've seen Little Dieter know how this tale ends. Suffice to say, Herzog's reenactment makes for rousing entertainment. If the film has a flaw, it's that the rah-rah finale plays like something from out of a mainstream sports movie. That quibble aside, the actors, including Jeremy Davies as a delusional campmate and Toby Huss as a fellow flyer, are aces. And Herzog, who's been concentrating on nonfiction, like Grizzly Man, proves he can direct a Hollywood-style action epic with the best of 'em. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Beyond Rescue Dawn

Little Dieter Needs to Fly

Christian Bale Films

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Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, Jeremy Davies
  • Directors: Werner Herzog
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Surround), French (Dolby Surround), Spanish (Dolby Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: MGM Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 20, 2007
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (850 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000WMA6R8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,278 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Rescue Dawn" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

There are times this movie embarrassed me it was so bad.
Keith Langkan
This was a great film based and the fact that it was based on a true story made it even more intriguing.
I love true stories and this one portrays a good picture of what life was like for Vietnam era POWs.
G. W. Hanson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 23, 2007
Format: DVD
So speaks Dieter Dengler when asked for comment at the end of his journey of jungle captivity in Laos. RESCUE DAWN is as much about the courage and fortitude of a captured soldier during wartime as it is about a true incident. From the inherent optimism of pilot Dieter Dengler (played with commitment and finesse by Christian Bale) the story transcends biopic and offers lessons for life in general; the human spirit can be indefatigable.

Writer/director Werner Herzog has expanded his 1997 documentary about Dieter Dengler and in doing so he has provided us entry into the psyches of soldiers captured by the enemy and the extraordinarily trying conditions in which they survive. The optimistic and eager Dengler is sent on a classified mission to bomb certain targets in Laos in 1965 with his fellow pilots including his best friend Spook (Toby Huss). Denlger is shot down and captured, interrogated, tortured, and placed in a prison with fellow inmates Duane (Steve Zahn in a career changing superb performance), Gene (the emaciated and excellent Jeremy Davies), Phisit (Abhijati 'Meuk' Jusakul), and Procet (Lek Chaiyan Chunsuttiwat). The living conditions are deplorable: the men are starved, chained together making even the possibility of caring for bodily functions negligible, and the moral is low. Dengler changes that using his ingenuity and immediately plans for escape. Duane aids Dengler but Gene fears the consequences of an aborted escape attempt. Yet with Dengler's expertise and cunning the escape into the jungle is planned and is essentially successful - until the other enemy (the jungle) reduces the forces to one. As Dengler is rescued he is left with the ghosts of his fellow inmates, a factor that will haunt him and alter his life after rescue.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Mark #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 17, 2007
Format: Blu-ray
Rescue Dawn is unique among war films. It's not the fast paced action thriller of so many fictionalized war movies, yet it offers the story of a real man told tastefully through suspense and drama. For those looking for graphic battle gore, this isn't the movie for you. If you can take the time to study and appreciate how a horrendous situation can impact a man's thoughts and identity, you will find a lot to learn from here.

Christian Bale plays Dieter Dengler, a pilot shot down at the onset of the Vietnam War in neighboring Laos. He miraculously survives the crash and has to contend with his capture and reeducation by his communist captors. He is eventually taken to a camp where there are other Americans. The rest of the plot, while long, is best experienced without an outline.

Bale's acting is great. The supporting cast is equally as impressive, especially Steve Zahn as Duane and Jeremy Davies as Gene. The lush rain-forest is also a character in this movie, and the cinematography beautifully captures one of the world's most awe-inspiring and dangerous places.

The story was previously told in Werner Herzog's documentary, "Little Dieter Needs to Fly." Little Dieter Needs to Fly The script is nicely written, but much of it still comes across as a documentary. The director uses suspense and time to convey the anxiety of the situation. That's part of the reason wider film audiences are turned off or left wanting more.

I suspect that this movie would have had more visual impact in theatres. Unfortunately, it never reached wide theatrical release in the USA.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Asa Fisk on November 25, 2007
Format: Blu-ray
I decided to pick up Rescue Dawn on Blu-ray as a blind buy after reading so many positive reviews of the film. Overall, I was not disappointed!

First off, trailers for the DVD on television will make the movie appear to be packed with action. It's not. It's a character driven drama more than anything else, so if that's not what you're looking for go snatch up Die Hard 4 (another great movie). What I found truly compelling is that you could see the characters' actual physical and mental changes throughout the story - especially Christian Bale's - and thus feel more emotionally attached to the characters and their fates. Aside from the story itself, the movie looks beautiful in high definition (lots of lush green jungle scenes) and is very tastefully shot. The sound is quite nice, too, although I don't have an audio rig capable of playing the DTS-HD soundtrack.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend this to fans of drama or war movies.
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43 of 53 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Williams on November 29, 2007
Format: DVD
A very good movie.
unlike any war, vietnam, or prisoner of war story i can remember watching or reading.
it is the story of Dieter Dengler, the only US Navy pilot to escape from the Pathet Lao.

The story is a contrast of opposing ways of looking at both the world and yourself.
Dengler's vs. two other prisoners in the camp, one of resignation, the other one an outward optimism (rescue will come before the rainy season starts), but really another form of resignation and pessimism (because it isn't joined to action but to waiting).

What i find extraordinary is not the survival of people in such awful conditions, but how a single person, sustaining what really is an absurd optimism can uplift and motivate the whole group.

I think this is the message that the director wishes people to take home, optimism maybe misplaced, but without it hope flees. It is better to be an out of place foolish optimist then to resign yourself to your surroundings and give up.

It is an extraordinary message and it is provided to us in the movie with forcefulness and with a subdued passion for life that really ought to rub off on each viewer as she/he looks at their lives and says "things really aren't that bad", "i just need to get moving in the right direction", "with the right attitude-like Dengler's".

Where do people like this come from?
How do they sustain their optimism in situations that destroy other people?
If i can't be that person, how do i get to meet one and learn from watching them?

It is a worthwhile to own movie, i can only imagine what Dengler was like in person from watching the movie, i've never personally met anyone quite like him.
so i'm glad i "met" him in the movie.
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