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By Alastair Collinson

GENRE: Action, Horror

Inspired by true events, during WW2 a pacifist British marine is captured by a Japanese garrison that never surrenders and while evacuating a tropical island they have to cross ten miles of swamp – but hundreds of deadly saltwater crocodiles lurk in the depths. It has been called perhaps 'The Greatest Disaster Suffered (by humans) from Animals'.


On February 19th 1945, Japanese soldiers mass evacuated Ramree Island, off the coast of Burma (Myanmar), as the British with assistance from the Americans ruthlessly reclaimed it. Over a thousand Japanese men attempted to cross 16km of swamp and marshland to reach the mainland… the next morning, only twenty were alive. Many claims have been made and historians to this day argue over exactly what happened, but according to one chilling report the majority of the men were killed by hundreds of deadly saltwater crocodiles. The ‘Ramree Massacre’ has been considered to be perhaps ‘the Greatest Disaster Suffered (by humans) from Animals’.

After titles set the scene, we open on four Japanese soldiers, led by Kasuga, searching the alluring but treacherous jungle of Ramree Island for their missing sergeant. They come across a paradisiacal fresh water pool and decide to cool off. But Kasuga soon discovers the leg of their missing sergeant hidden nearby; sticking out the top of it is a crocodile tooth. One of the four is dragged below the depths of the pool and never seen again. Next we meet the British marines at the top end of the island and they are frothing at the mouth for some action, with the exception of a particularly anxious looking soldier – Bruce Stanley Greene. He races outside to vomit and his considerate but tough as nails Captainhas a little word with him to help ease his nerves. Greene shows himself to be a smart mouth genius who doesn’t want any part of the war and oddly, for a marine, has been conscripted. He doesn’t want to fight not because he’s afraid of dying; but because he’s afraid of killing. Finally we meet General Adachi, who is of Samurai lineage and believes in the honour of fighting to the death and never surrendering; pacifism is just another word for cowardice to him, but he has a good heart deep down. Adachi leads his scrappy, starving unit in to a battle they can’t win against the British marines. During a furious gun battle Greene comes face to face with Kasuga, Adachi’s second in command, but chooses to let him go. Adachi is prepared to fight to the last man but HQ surprises him by ordering all Japanese survivors to retreat and evacuate the island.

After Merton warns Greene of the dangers of treating the enemy as anything less than lethal, he is accidentally captured by Adachi’s small unit. Before he is executed he reveals he can speak perfect Japanese (arousing suspicion from the men) and that he is their best chance for leading them off the island as he knows where the various British units are hiding. Also Kasuga recognises him from the previous battle and wants to return the favour. In exchange for aiding the unit, Greene wants Adachi to shoot him in the foot and leave him to be found so he can be sent home. Instantly there is a clash of values and generational beliefs between Adachi and Greene – tension sizzles between them throughout the adventure as they argue over the best way to win a war: with words or bullets. Adachi and his unit link up with the other survivors and are ordered to cross a creek in the dead of night without boats. In a heart stopping set piece, the thousand plus men are set upon by hundreds of deadly saltwater crocodiles (renowned for their aggression) while also avoiding British marines in boats, and planes in the sky. Adachi manages to make it across with Kasuaga, Greene and the extremely loyal Seiji who has it in for Greene. The four men attempt to cross the swamp via trees. Greene and Adachi covertly plot against the other in their moral chess game. After another encounter with man-eating crocs Kasuga is bitten by a venomous snake and dies – it breaks Greene’s heart, and instead of just wanting to escape so he doesn’t have to fight, he realises a true pacifist still risks his life to save others; just without violence. Greene and Adachi develop an understanding, especially after Greene reveals his step-mum to be Japanese. After one final showdown with a monster croc, the men come together – but Adachi has one last surprise ‘move’ waiting for Greene.

Nathaniel Baker

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