War Didn’t End for All

Hiroo Honda spent almost 30 years fighting World War II after the Japanese surrendered. Isolated in the Philippines, he didn’t know the war ended.

Although not based on any specific truth, Camp on Blood Island invokes that same idea for a clever POW drama. Knowing the Japanese commander’s fanaticism, the British soldiers must hide the reality from their captors, because if learning of their country’s submission, the Japanese will kill all within the camp in a final, violent rage.

… clumsily executed theatrical action fills Camp on Blood Island’s final frames, but there’s still something worth rooting for

That turns the usual psychology against those captured, who rather than escape, seek anyone from getting in. A nearby plane crash is terrifying, because if the pilot survived, he’ll unwittingly bring information to the Japanese, and with no recourse to fight back. Also nearby, a second camp, that with women and children, also soon to be massacred upon any mistake.

It’s an effectual, memorable story, soaked in humidity, and stressful. The opening moments depict a prisoner digging a grave, the Japanese then shooting him into it. Their viciousness is evident immediately, and not only for exploitation and British patriotism; it’s depicting Imperialism and its effects on soldiers who see themselves as invincible, soon to rule the world. Camp on Blood Island is fearful of what happens when such beliefs penetrate a populace, and the climatic battle isn’t a thick, implausible action scene where the British win. There’s loss and mistakes, an imperfect force against their opponent.

At times, Hammer makes due with this production. Indian Marne Maitland plays a key Japanese figure, unconvincing in appearance as much as the stilted dialog delivery. It’s sparse too, if an accidental success in making the camps look so isolated. The script also pushes the focus on the men, merely glancing toward the women, using them for emotional weight, not as characters. Given the few POW thrillers focused on women, Camp on Blood Island misses an opportunity.

Yet it’s an overall success, generously paced at only 80-minutes, and constructing deep tension as needed. A sequence in which a British captive must destroy a radio is beautifully composed, and set deep in nighttime shadow. Such close calls become common; the relentlessness from the Japanese side ensures every risky action carries weight. While clumsily executed theatrical action fills Camp on Blood Island’s final frames, there’s still something worth rooting for.

Video

Crisp black & white imagery looks generally pleasing. Preserved grain structure falls to the encoding in spots, the only concern with this transfer. Even the print looks superb, the few dings fine given their limited intrusion.

All of the sweaty faces provide firm fidelity, revealing a high-resolution source, and likely a recent mastering. Wide shots show the camp’s details. Inside straw huts, the leaves and strands all show clearly. Long grass outside the gates (and the trees) look exceptional too. Even sand is resolved down to small grains.

Minor flickering aside, stability is near faultless to give Camp on Blood Island brightness within its gray scale. Shadows reach suitable density, while the sun-lit skylines press heat into the image. Glistening bodies from the sweat shimmer, keeping a persistent peak.

Audio

DTS-HD or not, the score takes a hit in terms of fidelity, age taking its toll to turn the treble harsh, or even uncomfortable at reasonable volume. Slight static runs under the dialog, but Camp on Blood Island doesn’t suffer any additional wear.

Extras

Nothing.

The Camp on Blood Island
  • Video
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  • Extras
4

Movie

A clever twist on the POW formula, Camp on Blood Island tasks prisoners with keeping people out instead of escaping.

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