Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars118
4.2 out of 5 stars
Format: DVD|Change
Price:£7.72+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 25 April 2012
This is a powerful, seminal work covering key chapters in the life and career of the world's most famous revolutionary Che Guevara. And, for the price, you are getting over 4 hours of superb movie biopic, handled with the right balance between fact and filmography.

Be clear, there are parts in English but on the whole, it is subtitled in English which some viewers can find tiring. I'd just say, don't let it put you off - be patient and give it a chance. You will be well-rewarded.

A film in two parts, the first sees the Cuban revolution whilst the second follows events in Bolivia up to an amazing finale. Benicio del Toro is magnificent in short footage at the end of the film, we see the actor glancing out over the sea. For me, he really captured the character, the myth and the legend of Che.

There are gaps that it simply wasn't possible to cover in the timeframe of the movie which I would like to have seen more of. For example, his family and five children barely get a mention, leaving one wondering where he found the time to squeeze this effort in. In addition, his time in Congo is covered so briefly that the viewer just ends up with the idea that he `spent some time in the Congo'. It almost feels that there is a missing 45 minutes covering this chapter.

But these are minor criticisms in what is an epic film and the perfect place for people new to Che's story to read. You'll have plenty of time to pick and read further after the story. For now, prepared to meet one of the men hailed as one of the greatest humans of the last century - you don't have to agree with the assertion but fans include Mandela etc.

Guerrilla Warfare - for further information I recommend reading Che's own work first, before delving into the hundreds of books about him.

Enjoy this visual feast of a film and be transported to the revolutionary days in Cuba and Bolivia.
0Comment|9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This two part film is a long consideration of its topic, the hero of the Cuban Revolution, Ernesto Che Guevara. Like all heroes who died before their time he has a certain "aura". Our view of Guevara nowadays is linked to where the communist revolution eventually went, but Guevara was in at the beginning, when it was a simpler struggle between landlords, US corporations and campesinos, before the weight of the contest between the USA and Soviet Russia effectively made proxies out of many regimes.

The Guevara it portrays is wise, kind, helpful and able to maintain great loyalty, but he is also willing to execute his enemies (and in this beginning is his end) and support the loss of their property. The result is the philosopher guerrilla. If you lived through the period (as I did) you can enjoy spotting people like Regis Debray and re-reading the aims of Fidel Castro. The portrayal of guerrilla fighting is very effective; both where it is succeeding and where it fails as in Bolivia. There may not be quite enough action for many, but there is plenty in such a long film. Del Toro's portrayal of Guevara is so powerful as to begin to overwhelm the images I hold of the original Che.

The film may infuriate Cuban exiles or cold war warriors but, rather like "La battaglia di Algeri" its portrayal of both Battista troops and the Bolivians hunting Che is never simplistic. One can even sense admiration for the skill of the latter. It reminded me of just how little I know of Latin America's complex history.

Though I found it well told and beautifully filmed it must be said it moved slowly and probably into unknown waters for many viewers. I doubt it is a film for the viewer wanting some relaxing entertainment; a situation which does not reflect on either director or viewer.
0Comment|8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 July 2009
Very much a film of two parts (two films?), part one focuses principally on the year-and-a-half leading up to the 1959 Cuban revolution and part two concentrates on Che's ill-fated year-long Bolivian adventure from 1966 to 1967. The complete omission of the intervening years is in itself a serious weakness of this film.
Part one is excellent, its success largely due to the time-shifts so often criticised. The film opens in the US in 1964 with an interview with Che in which the question is posed whether or not US-sponsored reform might not be an alternative to revolution in South America. From there we flash back to Cuba to see the brutalities of the Batista regime in 1952 and from there we shift to Mexico in 1955 where we meet the revolutionaries in exile, whose discussions of the (previously graphically-portrayed - important!) dictatorship in Cuba make it quite clear that so-called reform is not an option. The rest of part one focuses on Che's role in the Cuban revolution from 1957 to 1959 with periodic time-shifts to Che in the US in 1964. These time-shifts enable the director to convey extra dimensions to the story in a subtle and unobtrusive way. Thus the combination of Che's actions and experiences in the field combine with the US scenes to give significant insights into his ethics and philosophy, revealing a profoundly humane and practical man with an unshakeable belief in truth and justice. In the field, Che reads during his rest-break, encourages his fighters to study, and emphasises the importance of education: "a people who cannot read and write are a people easy to deceive". In Che's revolution, the people join to fight, but also to learn.
Part two is a rather rambling account of Che's Bolivian adventure which lacks the extra dimensions of the first part. It follows Che's training activities and periodic confrontations with the Bolivian army through to his demise in la valle de Yuro. It is less effective precisely because it lacks the political and ethical dimensions that the time and scene shifts create in part one. The striking Bolivian miners, for example, are referred to on a number of occasions, but never represented directly. This is a major weakness. Nor - apart from the occasional encounter with a mountain peasant - is the socio-economic reality of Bolivia conveyed to the viewer.
The high point throughout the film however is Benicio del Toro's fantastic portrayal of Che. Each nuance is perfect!
A final (slightly technical) note on translation. It is entirely to the film's credit that the Spanish-speaking characters speak Spanish and that we have English subtitles. But unfortunately the translation is adequate rather than good. It is weak on two counts. One, it just doesn't convey the colloquial register of the protagonists, especially in part one: we often get stilted, formal English equivalents. Two, the frequent emphatic expressiveness of the Cubans in particular simply doesn't come across: we get a bland, "unmarked" English translation. This seems to be because the translator shies away from marked English syntax. While English might not have the syntactic flexibility of Spanish (in the colloquial verb-subject option for example), it does have much more flexibility than this translation recognises (and as a dip into functional linguistics would reveal). In short, the translations should really be better when they are of such central importance.
33 comments|54 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
A fascinating life story that was both turbulent & doomed is told with subtlety & restraint. Where many would have made a summer blockbuster war movie Steven Soderbergh instead paints with a gentle hand so that an almost serene & dreamlike quality is achieved. Many saw this as ideal material for Oliver Stone, with opportunity aplenty for dramatic shots of soldiers dying and a relentless pounding anti-war theme. In some respects, on occasion, Stone's pace & drama would be welcome but on the whole would have left this unbalanced & unfocused.
We follow Che from his first meetings with Fidel Castro quickly through to his involvement in guerilla warfare in a battle to take control of Cuba. Scenes of 'in the field' fighting & training are interspersed with black and white newsreel style scenes of his time in New York. The first 15 minutes are a little confusing as the timelines flit all over the place but eventually things settle down and a juxtaposition between his role as representative and soldier.
At first the battle sways back & forth with Battista's forces holding the stronger ground but bit by bit the revolution begins to take hold and the inevitable victory finally arrives. It is at the moment of victory, with Che on his way to Havana that the first part ends.
The second part see's Che head off to mainland South America in the hope of effecting change across the continent. Starting in Bolivia he begins to start another training campaign but his deteriorating health begins to hold him back & the battle is a wholly different one to that faced in Cuba.
Soderbergh uses handheld cameras for the second half so that gone are the slow, steady sweeping shots of stunning tropical scenery to be replaced with juddering , jarring shots of claustrophobic jungle that closes in on Che as his soldiers fall and the inevitable approaches.
This was never going to be a laugh riot and sure enough as the story progresses so that dreamlike feeling returns, whereby the main character seems to be constantly running but unable to get away & becoming increasingly helpless. However he remains defiant & assured of his mission throughout.
From stunning scenery to sudden bloody battles and moments of camaraderie throughout a vivid & memorable picture is revealed of Ernesto Guervara. To this end Benicio Del Toro is quite outstanding in his portrayal of Che. No grandstanding or scene stealing here in fact quite the opposite as he plays his character as a quiet & thoughtful man, more at ease working amongst the people as a doctor yet always wishing to return to the jungle to fight once more. Ruthless yet insistant that his soldiers be literate & show respect for the peasants that they come across. The scenes with him struggling to overcome his increasingly debilitating asthma are a tribute to the subtlety and deftness of touch that this actor brings to the role. Del Toro didn't miss out on an Oscar, he was robbed!
This has been a little sidelined in the media as being 'worthy',(a euphemism for boring), and too long. True enough any film in excess of 4 hours is going to test the nerve endings in your butt however a little patience is a small price to pay for such an enjoyable & thoughtful film experience. This avoids the heavy political stance that Stone would no doubt have brought to the table,(although with such a long look at one man there was always going to be a little bias), and can easily be watched as a biopic of a true one of a kind man. Agree with his motives and ideals or not this makes for a fascinating & very watchable movie that is well worth your time.
The picture is excellent, particularly in the first half with vibrant, deep colours. The sound too is well mixed with extensive use of the sub in battle scenes and excellent separation. Too the dialogue is centered well and clearly,( a nice touch whenever Che is being interviewed off camera during a scene is the first word or two being in Spanish but then fading into English as he speaks),.
The extras are extremely poor and sound a loud warning that there is very likely to be an all bells & whistles edition at some point in the future.
Highly recommended.
22 comments|72 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
At a shade under four and a half hours, this hefty, Spanish language, two-part biopic of the famous (or infamous, depending on your political slant) revolutionary may seem pretty daunting. Don't be put off though - I soon found I was drawn in by the painstakingly created 50's/60's atmosphere and a truly remarkable performance by Del Toro.

Part 1 focuses on Che's collaboration with Fidel Castro (also impeccably played here by Demian Bichir) to overthrow the Batista regime in Cuba, whereas part 2 depicts Che's ill-fated year-long guerrilla war and ultimate demise in Bolivia.

On Blu-Ray, Che looks terrific. The director chose to use outdoor shots with as much natural light as possible - and it really pays dividends here. The backdrop of the Bolivian villages and mountains in part 2 are particularly stunning. 5.1 surround sound is also used to superb effect, notably in the battle sequences. If you own a decent home cinema system, you are in for a treat! Plenty of extras - trailers and informative interviews, complete the package.

In terms of the politics, I felt that Che himself is neither sanctified nor demonised. Indeed, subsequent research I conducted on the Internet suggests that this is a surprisingly accurate account of his life and director Sonderbergh deserves much credit for getting the balance just right.

If pushed to criticise, I would say that, being based on Guevara's own diaries, the plot, particularly in part 1, feels rather fragmentary and does plod at times. There is much lengthy dialogue that doesn't always seem to advance the story, between the excellent action sequences.

I can understand why this movie may not appeal to the mainstream viewer but, if you're a patient soul, have no aversion to subtitles (or can speak reasonable Spanish) and are interested in learning more about the now legendary figure of Che Guevara, then Sonderbergh's epic certainly delivers the goods and is well worth adding to your film collection.

PS. FWIW, my rating here is based on part 1 deserving 3.5 stars and part 2 a comfortable 4.5 stars.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This pack offers both parts of the excellent Che films and although the extras and bonus features are a little sparse, this is a good way to own both films.

`Che Part One' (aka as The Argentine) explores Che Guevara's experiences during the Cuban Revolution based on his own Cuban diaries. It looks at how he developed as a revolutionary and how Castro gave him more and more responsibility as his talents grew. He comes across as idealistic and honest and looked after both his men and the peasants in the areas he fought in. Del Toro acts superbly throughout and you could really believe this is a documentary, rather than a film, as the acting and direction is so good. This is shot mostly in Spanish, with subtitles, which adds authenticity to the film and isn't a hindrance to understanding or enjoyment. This film also uses colour and black and white cinematography to good effect. The revolution part of the film is shot in colour and the scenes where Che is talking at the U.N. after the war has been won is shot in black and white. This is very effective and gives the film a historical feel to it. Having read the book I know that rather being a exact chronology of the revolutionary war, it is rather a series of the exploits, battles and experiences as told by Che. This film follows the same format and if you don't know some of the history of the Cuban issue it may be confusing at times. For example it makes reference to the Bay of Pigs (where the U.S. sponsored an invasion of Cuba) but doesn't really specify any other information about it for those unaware of the history. Although in the films defence I am guessing the kind of person who would want to see this film would have a rudimentary understanding of the war and general history in the first place. This is quite slow moving at times and isn't good for those expecting an all Hollywood action movie, but if you enjoy authentic feeling bio-pics then this is well considering. It is brilliantly acted, has amazing locations and shines a light on the character of a twentieth century icon.

`Che Part Two' (aka Guerilla) looks at how Che tried to formulate and win a revolutionary war in Bolivia. Like part one this is shot entirely in Spanish with English subtitles, but the filming style feels different. You don't get the mixture of colour and black and white photography and this feels less like a documentary and more like war footage. It has plenty of hand held camera angles and a more intimate feel to it. Che has to deal with disobedient, unprepared and ill trained troops this time and you can see he struggles from the word go. He also has to deal with men who don't believe in the final objective as strongly as he does. In Cuba he had the backing of the peasants but in Bolivia they worked against the revolutionaries and hindered their progress at every turn. Che comes across as softer here, but just as resolute and with the same integrity he brought to the Cuban war. As before Del Toro is exceptional and the direction is impressive throughout. This is based on Che's own Bolivian diaries and like the first installment it can feel a little slow at times, but yet again we get offered an accomplished Bio-pic of an icon. This concludes both films with impact and leaves you with a greater understanding of the man and the times he lived in.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
0Comment|8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 22 December 2014
I watched the first part of this film when I bought the set, but it took me 4 years before I finally got around to watching part 2. Thankfully the films are separate to each other so you don't really have to watch them in order or one after the other.

Part one deals with the rise of Che and the overthrow of the Government which is by far the better of the 2 films. The second part deals with his time in Bolivia and his attempts to mobilise and train a Guerrilla movement to overthrow the Bolivian government. I didn't really feel that the film moved forward. It was interesting to see how he struggled to keep the group together and prevent some infighting and at the same time peasants he was trying to help were turning against him through fear of reprisals from police and military. You get the feeling that the country perhaps wasn't ready for a revolution at that time.

I have absolutely no interest in politics and don't fully understand the different regimes, but you do get a flavour of what Che was trying to achieve. If you want to go back further in his life to try and understand him a little better, I would recommend the motorcycle diaries.

The Blu-ray quality is superbly clear and sub-titles are easy to read regardless of what was on-screen at the time. The audio was perfectly acceptable using TV speakers.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 4 September 2009
This is not one for the box-office. Part I has a bit more of action as the rebels take over Cuba, so it will appeal to an audience expecting to see what you typically see in Hollywood productions: people hurting, maiming and killing each other so the audience can express their death instincts in a safe environment. Part II is more like a documentary, something you would typically see on Discovery Channel, only this time there using actors. The film is so well made that you feel like you were there, in reality. And reality can be boring (most often it is!). I guess the beauty of the whole film (Part I and Part II) is that it gives you this perspective of being there. The film tries hard not to show the "Che" character as a "hero" nor as a "demon". Depending on your expectations, this might come across as a disappointment.
Some people have criticized the film for not showing the period when Guevara was part of the Cuban government. Actually, it does show some of that, through Guevara's appearances in the US when he spoke at the UN. I find that kind of criticism unjustified because it accuses the film of not telling a part of the story that I would like to see more of. Well, that is a matter of choice by the producers and director. This the story they are telling. If you want to see a different part of the story, go produce your own film about Guevara. Tell the story of his childhood, or his teen years in Argentina.
I enjoyed the film very much and came away feeling that this is a historic piece. Years from now, people interested in understanding what happened in Cuba and Bolivia in the 60's will be referred to this film. It is not romanticized, it's quite a sober piece. It was not made for entertainment, it was made to throw some light upon events and characters whose deeds were so politically charged (and still are) that I'm a bit surprised that the film was distributed at all. There are many people out there who would love to see the film banned, or portrayed as a flop, because they do not want the Cuban revolution and the ideology behind it to be on display.
As it happens, the film is not a revolutionary pamphlet. It describes events and leaves the discussion (and the conclusions) to the audience. Not the kind of stuff for a popcorn matinee, but a great piece for whoever is interested in discussing Latin American issues.
0Comment|7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 July 2009
Very much a film of two parts (two films?), part one focuses principally on the year-and-a-half leading up to the 1959 Cuban revolution and part two concentrates on Che's ill-fated year-long Bolivian adventure from 1966 to 1967. The complete omission of the intervening years is in itself a serious weakness of this film.
Part one is excellent, its success largely due to the time-shifts so often criticised. The film opens in the US in 1964 with an interview with Che in which the question is posed whether or not US-sponsored reform might not be an alternative to revolution in South America. From there we flash back to Cuba to see the brutalities of the Batista regime in 1952 and from there we shift to Mexico in 1955 where we meet the revolutionaries in exile, whose discussions of the (previously graphically-portrayed - important!) dictatorship in Cuba make it quite clear that so-called reform is not an option. The rest of part one focuses on Che's role in the Cuban revolution from 1957 to 1959 with periodic time-shifts to Che in the US in 1964. These time-shifts enable the director to convey extra dimensions to the story in a subtle and unobtrusive way. Thus the combination of Che's actions and experiences in the field combine with the US scenes to give significant insights into his ethics and philosophy, revealing a profoundly humane and practical man with an unshakeable belief in truth and justice. In the field, Che reads during his rest-break, encourages his fighters to study, and emphasises the importance of education: "a people who cannot read and write are a people easy to deceive". In Che's revolution, the people join to fight, but also to learn.
Part two is a rather rambling account of Che's Bolivian adventure which lacks the extra dimensions of the first part. It follows Che's training activities and periodic confrontations with the Bolivian army through to his demise in la valle de Yuro. It is less effective precisely because it lacks the political and ethical dimensions that the time and scene shifts create in part one. The striking Bolivian miners, for example, are referred to on a number of occasions, but never represented directly. This is a major weakness. Nor - apart from the occasional encounter with a mountain peasant - is the socio-economic reality of Bolivia conveyed to the viewer.
The high point throughout the film however is Benicio del Toro's fantastic portrayal of Che. Each nuance is perfect!
A final (slightly technical) note on translation. It is entirely to the film's credit that the Spanish-speaking characters speak Spanish and that we have English subtitles. But unfortunately the translation is adequate rather than good. It is weak on two counts. One, it just doesn't convey the colloquial register of the protagonists, especially in part one: we often get stilted, formal English equivalents. Two, the frequent emphatic expressiveness of the Cubans in particular simply doesn't come across: we get a bland, "unmarked" English translation. This seems to be because the translator shies away from marked English syntax. While English might not have the syntactic flexibility of Spanish (in the colloquial verb-subject option for example), it does have much more flexibility than this translation recognises (and as a dip into functional linguistics would reveal). In short, the translations should really be better when they are of such central importance.
0Comment|5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 3 January 2013
Portraying the life of someone as iconic as Che Guevara isn't an easy task. He was a well educated man dedicated to an internationalist almost Lenninesque form of Marxism and a man who clearly believed the revolution should be both perpetual and perpetuated wherever it could be. Stephen Soderburg's two part biograpy is a long account focusing on some key elements of the life of the man they called Che.

Part One focuses on the battle to start the revolution in Cuba. Che is often seen as a key player in this although, as the film attests, this wasn't the case in the early stages. Fidel Castro comes across as a less impressively charismatic character who sees Guevara as the doctor and not someone who should be placed in charge of men on the front line. As the film shows, he earns the trust of Castro and is an impressive tactician and a brave fighter and leader of his men.

Insight in this part is gained from intercuts taken during a visit to New York in 1964 where Guevara has been invited to speak before the general council of the United Nations during a debate on Cuba and Central America. Using this speech, and interviews from the time, insight is provided into both Che and the battle to take Cuba. Here we see an unconventional man and an unapologetic revolutionary. Played excellently throughout be Benicio Del Torro the passion and charisma of the man shine through. As the battle develops we build through the cuts to the debate and the speech, followed by an equally passionately uncompromising rebuttal of remarks from the American ambassador and those from Panama and Mexico.

What Soderburg achieves is to get across the message and the passion without swamping the whole thing in political diatribes. At no time is this dogmatic or wearisomely idealistic in its tone. The idealist is the wonderful Del Toro as Che. His charisma is shown in the Cuban scenes when he regularly walks out with his armed men and confronts the villagers with a shake of the hand and an explanation of what they are trying to achieve. The effect on the unsuspecting villagers is wonderfully disarming.

The second part focuses solely on the campaign in Bolivia during 1967, which resulted in Che's death. The film opens with the resigantion letter and explanation that Che wants to take the fight and the revolution elsewhere. We then cut to Bolivia and the focus on the attempt to bring about an armed conflict which seems doomed to fail from the beginning.

Soderburg manages to make the slowly unfolding disaster of the trip utterly compelling viewing. Che, wracked by asthma, is single minded and wilful. He is surrounded by less experienced men than those in Cuba and their loyalty is the key bond. The plot follows The Bolivian Diary: The Authorised Edition pretty faithfully and is as hopeless and futile as the book itself is.

There are far more faults with the second film than the first, yet it is by far the more compelling piece. This isn't the epic the first one tries to be. This is grubby, claustrophobic and futile. Its key flaw is the barely mentioned African adventure which had failed in very similar circumstances to the ulitimate failure of the Bolivian one. Like Marx's own view of history, it seem Che learned nothing from his mistakes. Yet this film doesn't give more than a couple of lines to the African attempt. It does make the story seem more compelling but it does feel slightly dishonest too. It is a factual account which depicts the events yet stays outside the inner mind of Che. It makes it more interesting and engrossing because of this. The viewer here is free to interpret the action in their own way and not just through the eyes of the central protaganist. A bold move and one which takes the edge of the flaw.

The other hollow note is a small but significant detail. The second part is based on meticulous and detailed diary entries and yet throughout the film there is not one shot of one page of the diary being written. This is clearly the primary source material for this film and it just seems a little peculiar that not one word of it is seen being committed to paper.

This is a work of some ambition. Its result is two very good films which are dovetailled by Del Toro's brilliant performance. The films are quite a challenge to watch back to back but both serve as great pieces when seen on their own. The first is an exciting and intresting look into the mind of a revolutionary, whilst the second (although flawed) provides a captivating look at a mission doomed to fail and is the better of two highly watchable films depicting the life of an iconic revolutionary.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)