Apparently landing in a WW2 Prisoner of War (POW) camp was not a good development.
In the 80s film Victory though I get the (mistaken) impression that things could turn out much worse.
The basic premise of the film is that even in war sport can be a welcome distraction, potentially allowing the two sides to temporarily shelve any thoughts of animosity and hatred to enjoy momentary release through a football – soccer – contest.
The good guys (Allies) are lead by former professional John Colby (Michael Caine), whose squad includes numerous men, with only Louis (Pele) and Hutch (Sylvester Stallone) getting any really dialogue or highlights on or off the pitch.
The Nazi forces on the other hand consist of their national team and are left faceless, the easy for the viewer to continue resenting them, with only Major Von Steiner (Max Von Sydow) conversing with Colby to discuss the terms of the exhibition match and the various dos and don’ts… mostly don’ts.
Once the German media picks up the small time morale boosting contest is rapidly escalated into a propaganda machine, with a sure fire win over the ragtag Allied forces seen as assured.
The prison team receive special dispensation in the form of better conditions, food and equipment, and constant reminders of the fact that they are and will remain prisoners of war, and that attempts to escape will be dealt with severely. Conversely though the men are also reminded by the imprisoned English brass that as POWs it is expected that they look at every chance to escape and that by playing ball with the Nazis they are somehow colluding with the enemy.
But once the game is transferred to Paris and the French underground are contacted it seems that there might never be a better chance for the men to escape than during the contest.
With the tensions created by the global conflict as the backdrop the film works as a long preamble to the game, which once underway is obviously choreographed but still quite entertaining, obeying the sports movie rules down to the last touch.
After the ‘no blood, no foul’ contest is underway Pele gets every chance to show off his skills, Michael Caine is barely spotted – he’s an actor dammit not a soccer player! – and Stallone gets to flex his muscles and show his concrete hands when he is ‘unexpectedly’ handed the goalkeeper’s duties.
Final Rating – 6.5 / 10. Victory perhaps hasn’t aged well, there are both sports movies and war movies made in recent decades that are far more effective, but it has some interesting scenes and is worth a look.