It seemed like a pretty interesting movie, up to about a third of the way through. Four G.I.s in Korea are charged with loading fuel drums onto a small freighter and destroying everything else that might be of use to the advancing North Korean Army. An enemy plane flies over and strafes them, burning one alive. But the plane is hit. A parachute opens, and the remaining soldiers take the man prisoner. (We later learn his name is Kim. I have a theory that 49% of Koreans are named Kim, and 49% are named Park. The other 2% wish they were a Park or a Kim.) Aboard the ship, the Sarge (Kirk Douglas) learns over the radio that the base where they are going has been hit, including the hospital. Angry villagers have stormed the stockade and killed all the North Korean POWs. If they bring Kim back, he will be killed, too, so just shoot the little gook and be done with it. Roger that, says the Sarge.
The “kid” (there is always a kid in movies like this), Robert Walker, Jr., refuses to plug Kim when ordered to do so. Which is entirely proper, since it is an unlawful order that contravenes international law. If Sarge doesn’t kill him for insubordination, he can tell his story to higher-ups when they get back. (Where, in the real world, not the kid’s ideal one, he will not be listened to, and will probably get in one hell of a lot of trouble and maybe a prison sentence, since the order was given by a ROK major and the US Army would not want to offend them. But it is the moral thing to do, if you have the courage to do it.) (I don’t think I would.)
Then things get a little dubious for me. When Sarge shoots at Kim, the kid grabs his arm and Kim is only wounded. This sets up a long, and almost totally unbelievable battle of words between Sarge and the kid. I won’t say I was on Sarge’s side, but I certainly wasn’t in favor of the kid. I don’t think it was the kid’s place or duty to go to such lengths to save the prisoner. Let it be the Sarge’s bad karma.
But then the kid goes completely haywire. He becomes so obsessed with saving Kim (never mind that Kim has just killed his friend) that he puts him aboard a lifeboat so he can escape back to an island they are passing, known to be in North Korean hands. And I completely lost it. I would have shot the kid myself. I was really pissed at Sarge for not shooting him. This was treason, pure and simple, aiding and comforting the enemy.
Think about it. This guy was either a pilot, a bombardier, or a gunner. It doesn’t really matter. If he gets back, he could be in another plane tomorrow, shooting at and bombing American and ROK troops and civilians. And anyone he killed would have been murdered by the asshole kid. It’s as simple as that.
There was more, endlessly more, but I’m fed up with all the bullshit that was spouted in this script. This movie really sucks.