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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern day tale of morality
At first glance, 'Return to paradise' appears to be yet another hard-hitting, near-exploitative film about moral arguments and responsibility. The basic scenario-2 men must decide whether or not to return to Penang to save their friend's life, in turn sentencing themselves to years in prison-could easily have been directed towards the cliche fairytale that we are...
Published on 11 Dec 2001 by Bianca(PigletGuinea@aol.com)

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars i fim that i thought was a true story
its not but could be ..its not bad .it shows us humans for what we are .and lesson can be learn from it .other than that its a B rated film .worth buying a used copy as I did .
Published 8 months ago by Mr. A. Beer


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern day tale of morality, 11 Dec 2001
This review is from: Return To Paradise (VHS Tape)
At first glance, 'Return to paradise' appears to be yet another hard-hitting, near-exploitative film about moral arguments and responsibility. The basic scenario-2 men must decide whether or not to return to Penang to save their friend's life, in turn sentencing themselves to years in prison-could easily have been directed towards the cliche fairytale that we are accustomed to, while the acting talents of those involved would have been wasted. Rather, the director has skillfully created a movie that twists and alternates our emotions as we follow the afflictions suffered by the main characters.
The acting here is unquestionably faultless, with Vince Vaughn giving possibly the finest performance of his career to date. As the morally challenged 'Sheriff', Vaughn superbly masters the complexity of his confused character. Anne Heche is also worthy of praise for her performance, most notably towards the final scenes of the movie. These two actors are in turn supported by an ensemble cast of promising thespians.
However, the real triumph in this film has to be the performance given by Joaquin Phoenix, who, as the doomed 'Lewis', gives an utterly heartbreaking and emotionally devastating portrayal of prison life and the intricacy of human character. Despite the dissapointingly short screen time that he has, Phoenix manages to steal the limelight from all others in the film without being too overwhelming.
The only flaw to be found in 'Return to paradise' would have to be the unecassary romance that develops between Sheriff and Beth(Heche), which slows down the plot with pointless scenes of dialogue and sexual tension. Even so, this relationship fails to detract attention from the final scenes of the movie in which we learn the ultimate fate that awaits Lewis. It is in these moments that the film establishes its detatchment from mainstream cinema, erupting into one of the most powerful and unexpected climaxes ever to grace the silver screen.
'Return to paradise' is an emotionally exhausting film, and will fill the viewers head with thoughts and questions that will remain there for weeks to come.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Speechless........, 24 Nov 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Return To Paradise (VHS Tape)
It has to be said that very few films these days can leave an entire room lost for words, but this is one such film. From start to finish the acting and direction of this gripping tale were superb. I found myself dumbstruck at countless points throughout the film, reeling from the question 'how can this be happening?'. Finally a climatic ending with very powerful acting and an intense soundtrack left no doubt that this is a truly fantastic film.
It shows the moral dilemma faced by two ordinary people when confronted by an unimaginable situation. Do you do the right thing and give up 3 years of your life, or turn your back on a friend? A question I'm sure many of us think we could answer in an instant. However, we are shown clearly here that life sometimes gets in the way of the heroic image we sometimes paint of ourselves.
The acting in general is superb, with a great performance by Phoenix and possibly the best I've seen yet from Vaughn. Anne Heche really shines in this film, notably in the final court room scene. She manages to hold the audience's attention with ease and I found myself really believing the agony she must have been going through faced with this horrific situation.
This is a superb film that is guaranteed to leave you asking yourself what you would have done in the same situation. Buy it and share it. I have no idea why this film performed so poorly in the box office, but one thing is for sure, that you will kick yourself if you miss out on it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What would you do?, 10 Aug 2007
By 
leela (Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Return To Paradise [DVD] (DVD)
This film is about whether 2 friends will go back to Malaysia to save their friend's life who is set to be hung for possessing drugs that they all were responsible for. If they go back they save him yet have to spend 3 years each in a Malaysian prison.

The film is really thought provoking about what would you do yourself. Its a film about human nature and I found it really enjoyable while being uncomfortable to watch in parts. As someone else said here the content will stay with me for a long time.

Well worth a watch!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A truly gut wrenching movie, 9 Dec 2001
This review is from: Return To Paradise (VHS Tape)
At first glance, 'Return to paradise' looks like yet another hard-hitting, near-exploitative film about foriegn justice , ala Brokedown Palace. The truth is that it unfolds quite differently, bending our emotions and expectations at an alarming rate towards the end of the movie.
The performances are top-notch, with Vince Vaughn giving possibly his best performance yet as the morally challenged 'Sheriff'. When his character is forced to make a literal life or death decision, there is not a single member of the audience who is not thinking, "What would i do if i were him?". Anne Heche takes a change from her usual characters as 'Beth', a surprisingly passionate young lawyer. These two actors are in turn supported by a range of excellent actors, both Amereican and Malasian.
However, the real gem in the stone has to be Phoenix, giving one of the most heart-wrenching performances ever to grace the silver screen. His portrayal of 'Lewis' gives us an intensly emotive view of prison life, and despite his short appearances in the movie he manages to steal the limelight from all others in the film.
The only flaw to be pointed out has to be the romance between Heche and Vaughn, which-while believable-is innapropriate and unnecassary. However even this cliche relationship cannot detract detention from the final climatic scene, which will have the watcher in a state of despair as we discover what fate lies in store for Lewis-will his friends give up what they have to save him, or leave him to recieve the ultimate punishment?
This film will place itself under your skin and will stay there forever.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling, 2 Aug 2006
By 
Ms. Caroline B. Pitt (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Return To Paradise [DVD] (DVD)
To put it simply this started in such a way as to be one of those films you forget you ever saw, until about half way through. By the end it is a film which has stayed with me since I first saw it about 4 years ago and I still haven't been able to watch it again yet. Disturbing but only in the unsettling reality of it. A must see.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SURPRISINGLY GOOD FILM, 11 Jun 2007
This review is from: Return To Paradise [DVD] (DVD)
I enjoyed this film more than I expected to which is always a happy position to be in I think. The acting was good and the story has a good ending with some sadness and some joy. Just like life really. Watch it yourself and see if you agree.
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4.0 out of 5 stars AN INVENTIVE AND PROFOUND MODERN DAY MORALITY TALE..., 3 Dec 2002
By 
Lawyeraau (Balmoral Castle) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Return To Paradise (VHS Tape)
This is a wonderfully creative movie, with top notch directing and award calibre performances by a talented cast. The premise is a fairly simple one. Three young men, Sheriff (Vincent Vaughn), Tony (David Conrad), and Louis (Joaquin Phoenix), who previously did not know one another, team up in Malaysia and party hearty. They have fun drinking, smoking hashish, and picking up girls. Sheriff and Tony head back to the states, leaving Louis behind, as he has a wildlife conservation idea involving orangutans that he wishes to pursue while in Malaysia. Before they go, Sheriff makes it a point to leave his dope stash in the house in which Louis is remaining. Later, the police come to search the premises on a matter unrelated to the dope stash. When they find it, however, they arrest Louis, who literally has been left holding the bag.
Two years later, Anne Heche enters the picture as a lawyer, ostensibly working on behalf of her client, Louis. She seeks out Sheriff and Tony with a proposition. It seems that while Sheriff and Tony have been getting on with their lives, Louis has been rotting in a Malaysian prison for the past two years and living in sheer terror. You see, Louis is scheduled to be executed in eight days as a drug dealer, as the amount of dope that had been left behind and discovered by the police was just over the threshold amount that would classify it as being for distribution, rather than for personal use. The only hope Louis has of staying alive is if Sheriff and Tony go back to Malaysia to take responsibility for their part in this and serve three years each. If only one returns, then the sole returnee faces six years. Will it be all for one and one for all? Will Louis live to personally thank his friends? Watch the movie and find out.
Vince Vaughn as Sheriff gives a compelling performance. Playing the quintessential Everyman, he struggles with his moral obligation. It is strictly a moral one, as legally he can just sit by and do nothing. Tony, too, undergoes some soul searching. They finally both come to the same conclusion, or do they? The dilemma that they face is an excruciatingly personal one. The movie builds up to a level of suspense that is totally unexpected. There are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing.
Meanwhile, Joaquin Phoenix, one of the finest young actors of his generation, gives a performance that will haunt the viewer for days. Anne Heche also give a noteworthy performance, intense and relentless in her quest to save what life Louis has left. Jada Pinkett also gives a strong performance as a newsreporter who is interested in the story. Her interjection into the movie brings into the forefront the issue of the responsibility of the press. When you see this movie, you will understand what this means.
This film is excellent on all fronts. The only weakness was an unnecessary subplot, which involved a blossoming romance between Sheriff and the character played by Anne Heche. Were it not for this digression, I would have given the movie five stars. It is an otherwise profoundly moving film that deserves to be seen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You'd take 3 years from me but you wouldn't take my word?, 6 Aug 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Return To Paradise [DVD] (DVD)
Sheriff and Tony are taking a hedonistic holiday in Penang, Malaysia. Hooking up with friend of the Earth, Lewis McBride they have a wonderful time and bonds are well and truly formed. Come the time for Sheriff and Tony to return to America, they leave Lewis their respective blocks of Hasish as gifts. The name Lewis McBride is forgotten by both men until two years later a lawyer turns up in New York to tell them both some startling news. After the boys left Penang, the police searched their beach house and found the Hashish, the volume of which got him arrested for drug trafficking. A crime punishable by death by Malaysian law. In 8 days time, Lewis, who has been locked up in dreadful Penang prison for two years, will be hung unless both the guys go back to Penang and accept their responsibility for the Hashish. An acceptance that will get each of them 3 years prison themselves.

Return To Paradise is a remake of a little known and seen French film from Pierre Jolivet called Force majeure. Throwing up a deep moral quandary and no small amount of surprises, it may just be one of the most undervalued films from the 90s. Starring Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Joaquin Phoenix and Jada Pinkett Smith, Jolivet's story gnaws away at the audience as it forces the issue at hand. Namely what would you do in the same situation? To save a friends life are you prepared to spend three years in a notoriously dank and desperate hell hole? Tho the piece is emotionally loaded in favour of doing what most would deem the right thing, the makers sucker us in, only to then steer us in other directions with a triple hander of a finale. There is also the impact of the press here, something that is crucial to the plot, and it's something that thankfully isn't glossed over. This really is a tightly constructed picture.

Vaughn {Sheriff} shows some great dramatic chops, it's refreshing to see him away from frat pack comedy shenanigans. Heche {Beth} looks gorgeous and gives her character real depth, while Phoenix as the imprisoned Lewis is heartbreakingly real. Not faring so well is Pinkett Smith as pesky reporter M.J. Major. Tho only a small part, it's really hard to accept her as a tough reporter who can get things done. Worthy of a mention is the cinematography by Reynaldo Villalobos, the shift in tones he uses between Malaysia to America is very smart and forces the issue of two completely different cultures. This is after all not just about a dilemma, it's also about differing laws on different continents. I found this film to be an emotional roller-coaster that stayed with me for some time after. It's hoped that more people will seek it out and get as much emotion and cranial ponderings from it that I most assuredly did. 8/10
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5.0 out of 5 stars Return to Paradise is the best film you could watch!, 26 Mar 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Return To Paradise (VHS Tape)
Return to Paradise is brilliant. If this film doesn't make you cry.......see a doctor. It is the best film you will see and shows the James Camerons and Peter Jackson's of the Film Industry that you don't need a billion dollar budget and special effects to capture your audiences imagination and attention!
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5.0 out of 5 stars must see!!!, 29 April 2014
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This review is from: Return To Paradise [DVD] (DVD)
amazing film. would recoment it to any onw who likes a true story, would recoment to any one, wont say anymore tho dont want to spiol the movie for you.
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Return To Paradise [DVD] by Joseph Ruben (DVD - 2006)
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