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4.2 out of 5 stars30
4.2 out of 5 stars
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
March or Die was one of a number of massive box-office disasters that nearly brought Columbia to its knees until CE3K rescued it from the brink. On the surface it belongs alongside the trilogy of mid-70s adventure films that Sean Connery made for the studio, with Gene Hackman's embittered Foreign Legionnaire reluctantly leading his surviving men to protect Max Von Sydow's archaeological dig. It's a perfectly workable premise for an adventure but it never really works. It's a schizophrenic film at best, and not just because of the usual international co-production vagaries: Gene Hackman is starring in a bleak, revisionist drama while Terence Hill is starring in an old-fashioned swashbuckler, and despite John Alcott's strikingly subdued photography neither strand quite works - not enough panache or too much depending on whose turn it is in the spotlight. The final (and only) battle scene is a particularly odd affair, with Hackman's character behaving very oddly indeed, depriving the audience of the expected climax in a way that seems more bizarre and just plain wrong than innovative.

Heavy pre-release cutting probably didn't help (the original US TV broadcast included a number of deleted sequences, including an additional battle scene), but this is more an interesting failure than a successful reinvention of a subgenre it all but killed off for good. It certainly managed to help kill off director Dick Richards' once promising career. Yet for all that, it's not a complete disaster - there's still enough to like in the film and draw you back to it from time to time even if it does seen a missed opportunity.

The fullframe DVD is a decent transfer with no loss of picture area (although the Australian DVD is in widescreen), but there are no extras: a shame, as it would have been interesting to see the deleted scenes, and the film's trailer was a very good example of wildly overhyping a film (it pitched it as an experience that would become one of the most important of your life!).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 December 2014
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No questions asked. Join the legion. "March or Die" is a commendably sprawling old-fashion action adventure with plenty of spirit and a touch of romance (where Hill would do some striking carriage jumping to encounter the lovely Deneuve), which is crisply directed by Dick Richards. At the end of World War One, a division of the French foreign legion led by Major Foster is ordered to protect an archaeological dig, as the last expedition was slaughtered by the Arabs. Foster despises the orders, but must follow them and this excites the wrath of Arab leader El Krim who uses this to unite all the tribes to lead an attack on the foreigners.

For these types of films, it offers no real surprises but does grip and bestow some powerful sequences and vivid local colour. The talented cast acquit themselves very well. Gene Hackman gives a well rounded performance, rather harden and solemn, but a major who does care for his men. Terence Hill brings charm to his carefree role as the newly enlisted legionnaire. The rapport he shares with the cast is simply spellbinding; especially with his fellow rag-tag legionnaires and his athletic abilities provided much amusement. The classy Max Von Sydow shows up as an idealistic archaeologist and turning the men's heads was the delectably headstrong Catherine Deneuve. A polite sounding Ian Holm brings a great deal of intensity as the powerful Arab leader trying to invoke religious fanaticism. Also Jack O'Halloran has his moments.

The plot's build-up is slow and melancholy, but concise which gave time for different story arches and characters to open up, albeit in a clichéd manner. Watching Hackman's Major and Hill's legionnaire respectably going at each other in a battle of wits was basic, but nonetheless harsh and effective. Sometimes trying to get your message across, does come at a price. After a talky set-up and then the boot- training, it got to business. The action is fairly one-note, but still with some sting as its kept for a cracking finale where against the odds the legionnaires find themselves up against waves upon waves of advancing Arabs wanting nothing but their blood. Also it's beautifully shot capturing the grand scope of the production with all details covered from the sets to the costumes. Well worth watching for Gene Hackman fans and adventure cinema enthusiasts.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2013
This is a well-produced and finely crafted film - the quality on DVD is excellent, you almost feel that you are with the characters. It has some outstandingly emotional moments - a young French mother starting to sing La Marseillaise in the Paris railway station had me almost in tears right at the beginning of the film - but there are one or two occasions when the story starts to lose it. The whole plot is entirely credible, even if a couple of scenes leave you with your jaw on the floor and there are some truly magical moments to compensate. The cast is outstanding with perhaps the sole exception of Gene Hackman - his role really should have been given to someone with a tad more empathy for French culture, whereas Ian Holm gives a surprisingly fine portrayal of El Krim the Moroccan tribal leader. If you are looking for constant action, then maybe this is not your bag, but this has class written all over it and I am more than happy to have it in my DVD collection for a repeat viewing in the future :-)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2013
"March or Die" has been released twice on DVD in the UK. 1st on Carlton (Prism Leisure) which is a grubby VHS quality version then released again on ITV DVD which has far superior picture quality. Both are still on the market so check the lables before you buy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 December 2013
This is a really good movie,with fine acting from the cast.Full of action and a good love story to boot!!

Regards, Mike
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on 4 September 2014
OK i was captivated by the foreign legion in the 50's reading luck of the legion in the eagle and terrance hill in his spagetti westerns, so i had to have the film . i was not disapointed. also stars gene hackman.
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on 20 March 2013
A truly excellent war film which I really enjoyed. As usual, Gene Hackman was at his very best and didn't disapoint.
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on 19 July 2015
been trying to get a region 2 version for quite some time most enjoyable
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2014
Made in 1977 with a cast including Gene Hackman, Max von Sydow, Terence Hill and the delicious Catherine Deneuve, this film attempts to recreate the great Foreign Legion stories of Beau Geste as played by Gary Cooper and Ronald Coleman. It doesn't quite come off. The film, whilst enjoyable per se, leaves you with the feeling of what might have been with a tighter script and better direction in the action scenes. Too many lost opportunities to make a really good epic. I don't think P.C. Wren would have been impressed.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 1 April 2007
This film is very good, it is a story of the French Foreign Legion who have to go to an archaeological expedition. The acting is brilliant, Hackman shines, as he does in everything, Terence Hill shows off his acrobatics, and Deneuve lends much needed humanity to the film. It is a very overlooked film and one that I would recommend. The dvd has no extras though, but is worth getting as the DVD has been hard to find in the past.
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