The Film (4/5)
This is a ‘reel’ story about the very ‘real’ Korean War. Fixed Bayonets! is the tragic tale of a small platoon of American troops to ward off the attack of three Korean and Chinese armies during the winter. We get to intimately know the men in this platoon, their psychology on trying to survive, how they cope with the deaths of their comrades, and what makes them tick. Tension not only mounts with the attack of their enemies but they squabble amongst themselves as well.
The platoon slowly starts to shrink, as one by one, the men are killed or severely injured, in particular, the leader, Sargent Rock (Gene Evans, Devil Times Five, Donovan’s Brain). Corporal Denno (Richard Basehart, He Walked by Night), at Rock’s request, has inherited the unenviable task of being given a more leadership role in the platoon as his superiors are killed or injured severely. With the platoon getting smaller, the Chinese and Korean armies move in for the kill for an explosive climax.
Written and directed by Samuel Fuller, who is one of the all-time great directors, Fixed Bayonets! is a gritty, no-nonsense hard hitting powerful war story as only he could make. He directed this film as if he felt right at home making it. Fuller was the first to make Korean War films such as Fixed Bayonets! This is a great, tense, suspenseful, moody film. What really works well here is the lack of music. This is highly effective and really adds to the suspense of waiting for something inevitable to happen, especially when a few of the troops have to slowly cross a mine field over the ice and snow.
The performances by the cast are excellent, especially Gene Evans who plays a very rugged, tough army guy and has some great lines.
While I’m not an avid war genre fan by any stretch of the imagination, Fixed Bayonets! is a very entertaining movie and is an essential movie to own for those who love the genre and the director.
Fixed Bayonets! makes its debut on Blu ray courtesy of Kino Lorber. The movie is presented by Kino in the aspect ratio of 1:33:1, sporting a new 4K restoration, in 1080p with an MPEG 4 - AVC encode and the results are splendid. The image is just superb, boasting a very clear image; in particular the close-ups of with the characters faces. Also, the outdoor scenery looks beautiful, sharp and detailed. The grey scale is excellent, film grain is present; no DNR has been applied. Overall this looks outstanding!
The audio quality for this film is the usual Kino DTS-HD Master Audio English 2.0. The dialog seemed a little on the low side, where I had to louden the volume, while the various amount of bombs, gunshots all come in extremely loud and clear. They were so loud, that I in fact, had to lower the volume; and then raise it again to hear the dialog. It’s serviceable despite a little unevenness of audio levels.
Kino has supplied us with a couple of extras for Fixed Bayonets!. We get an audio commentary by Film Historians Michael Schlesinger with Christa Long and Samantha Fuller. We also get a trailer gallery
Fixed Bayonets! is an excellent film, with a great cast and great director at the helm, and is essential to those who are interested in War films. The movie looks just marvelous on Blu-ray. Add a couple of good extras and you’ve got another great package from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.