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Fox Lorber presents
The Raiders of Leyte Gulf (1963)

"You are not a soldier, you are a spy. I could have had you killed the moment you were captured. I could even kill you right now if I were so inclined. "
- Captain Shirai Akira (Efren Reyes)

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: March 21, 2002

Stars: Leopold Salcedo, Michael Parsons
Other Stars: Jennings Sturgeon, Liza Moreno
Director: Eddie Romero

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for war violence
Run Time: 01h:20m:18s
Release Date: December 04, 2001
UPC: 720917529721
Genre: war

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C C+B-C+ C

DVD Review

I am not exactly sure what it is about films set in a time of war that allows me to see the best in the very worst. For instance, while some of us see Pearl Harbor as an overlong sappy love story, there is something undeniably thrilling and masterful about its attack sequences. However, with Eddie Romero's The Raiders of Leyte Gulf, I found myself feeling uneasy, as it is a war film that failed to grasp my attention even once throughout its entire running length.

American soldier Emmett Wilson (Sturgeon), sent to the island of Leyte to obtain information that will help General MacArthur to invade this pivotal island, is captured quickly by Japanese forces. Believing he knows more than he acknowledges, the Japanese begin to torture the solider until he gives up more valuable information. As Wilson is routinely beaten, he keeps his secrets to himself, even when the Japanese begin to kill one Filipino a day in an attempt to force him into giving them some sort of information. During the same period of time an American paratrooper arrives on the island and starts to form a rebellion against the Japanese and ultimately release Wilson from his POW camp.

The worst thing that can be said about The Raiders of Leyte Gulf is that it lacks the excitement and passion to make the plot work. As the film starts, we are thrust into an immediate scene involving Wilson and his captors, yet we never find out just how he got there or for that matter his exact purpose. While this is spelled out in later scenes, it then seems as more of an afterthought than a real key to understanding the plot. This becomes a recurring problem, as scenes and character introductions occur without any sort of explanation, specifically that of the American paratrooper.

Years after their release it has become increasingly popular to poke fun at Japanese films and their awful dubbing into American voices. Well, like a bad Godzilla film, that problem is evident in The Raiders of Leyte Gulf. Throughout the film the actors portraying the Japanese soldiers are so horribly dubbed that at moments their lines run into the American actors' dialogue. Given the small budget for the film this is a bit more tolerable, but the point remains that the inclusion of subtitles could have easily remedied this problem.

In the second film of a career that saw over twenty released pictures, director Eddie Romero does a fine job at the helm of The Raiders of Leyte Gulf. There are moments where the composition of the film seems flawed as one scene fails to flow well with that following it, but for the most part Romero is successful in his overall tone. While my problems lie with the script rather than the direction, it is indeed impressive that Romero did so much with so little in terms of budget.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in full-frame video, the transfer for The Raiders of Leyte Gulf is perhaps one of the strangest I have viewed in quite some time. At one moment the transfer shows its age with an abundance of flaws and print scratches, while in the next is looks passable given its age. The scenes with passable quality are nicely done with good sharpness and detail, particularly in close-ups where even skin imperfections are clear.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Though the packaging fails to list just what sound format the film has, my best guess would be that it is mono. Dialogue is obviously the only active sound element and it sounds harsh and distorted in several scenes. The score also sounds less than perfect, coming across as tinny on more than one occasion.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Fighting Rats of Tobruk, The Queen of Sheba, The Barbarians, Submarine Attack (Torpedo Zone), Mission To Death
Production Notes
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Trailers for The Fighting Rats of Tobruk, The Queen of Sheba, The Barbarians, Submarine Attack (Torpedo Zone), Mission to Death, and The Raiders of Leyte Gulf are each presented in black & white full-frame video with mono sound.

Also included is a three page section of film facts that offers some interesting historical and behind-the-scenes insights. The most interesting is that this film has not been seen for the past thirty-five years. Filmographies for Michael Parsons, Eddie Romero and Jennings Sturgeon are offered as well.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

While The Raiders of Leyte Gulf can be found for as low as ten dollars in many outlets, this is a film for only the die-hard collectors. The presentation is only average in terms of quality, making the decision to pass on recommending this title an easy one.


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