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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
Yangtse Incident [DVD]
Format: DVD|Change
Price:£9.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 28 July 2016
A terrific true story i could watch time & time again. HMS Amethyst was a frigate travelling up the Yangtse river to the Chinese capital on a peaceful mission. It was attacked by the Chinese People's Liberation Army & were taken so much by surprise the Amethyst ran aground. Many were killed & injured. They were in deadlock whatever move they made would be highly dangerous. Then Lieutenant Commander John S Kerans ( a brilliant Richard Todd ) was brought aboard & took command of the ailing frigate. After talks with the Chinese he could see no way out but was not prepared to stay & the remainder of the crew be slaughtered. He puts a plan in action, blackens the frigate,& on a dark night the frigate slips away, but has to turn around first. They are spotted so full steam ahead they go. What a great film i was cheering them along & of course they finally make it against all the odds. Fabulous !
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 September 2014
I liked this little known 1957 British war movie, which describes in a quite realistic way a very real event. Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS.

1. The real story (SERIOUS SPOILER WARNING - don't read further the point 1 if you want to discover the story of HMS "Amethyst" by watching this film)

On 20 April 1949, during Chinese Civil War, frigate HMS "Amethyst" was on her way from Shanghai to Nanking to replace destroyer HMS "Consort", which was standing as guard ship for the British Embassy. Even if she displayed very prominently the Union Jack, at 9.30 AM she was attacked by communist artillery and machine guns on the north bank of Yangtse. The ship suffered serious damage and was grounded. 22 men were killed and 31 wounded. HMS "Consort" came soon to help and tried to tow her, but was also damaged by communist artillery and forced to retreat, with 10 crew members killed.

After a huge effort of her crew, HMS "Amethyst" was refloated but every attempt of escaping was stopped by communist artillery. A second attempt to assist her, this time by heavy cruiser HMS "London" and her sister ship, frigate HMS "Black Swan", also didn't succeed.

Negotiations began in order to secure the release of the ship, but communist negotiators asked as the first condition that the British recognise that they opened fire first and also that the British government excuses itself for this "aggression". This exorbitant and in fact quite outrageous demand locked all negotiations in an impasse and HMS "Amethyst" remained blocked in position for the next 10 weeks.

Soon after the sunset on 30 July HMS "Amethyst", profitting of a moonless night and of the passage of a Chinese steamer, departed and dashed downriver. Communist artillery opened fire but mistakenly focused first on the civilian steamer - this mistake allowed HMS "Amethyst" to escape. The ship sailed 167 km passing under the nose of numerous other communist batteries - but ultimately made it to the sea without further damage or loss of life. Ship's commanding officer, Lt Commander John Kerans send at that moment the signal "Have rejoined the fleet south of Woosung ... No damage... No casualties....God save the King!".

2. The film (this point is spoiler free).

This film was made with a maximum effort to show events as faithfully as possible, with drama and "licentia poetica" kept to the minimum, and indeed it has a strong feeling of realism. HMS "Amethyst" still existed in 1957 and most scenes occur actually in the same places real events happened. However, as she was no more seaworthy at that moment, in the scenes in which the ship moves and fights she was replaced by her sister ship HMS "Magpie". An authentic, fully operational destroyer, HMS "Teazer", was also used to play HMS "Consort". John Kerans himself (at that time promoted to Commander) served as technical advisor.

Actors did very well, beginning with Richard Todd, who plays Kerans. Some slightly lighter moments are provided by Akim Tamiroff who plays wonderfully communist colonel Peng, a man who gives a whole new meaning to the expression "pigheaded"...))) William Hartnell, who was later to become the "First Doctor" in Doctor Who series, is excellent as Leading Seaman Leslie Frank.

This is a good film, but the realism and the low key/low drama approach took their toll on it - in some moments it takes a little effort to stay interested (this is the reason for four stars only). Still, I am very happy that I bought and saw it and I will keep my DVD for a possible future viewing. Enjoy!
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on 10 March 2017
A good solid B&W movie a bit stiff upper lipped and all the Jolly Jack tars tug their forloacks and smile under the guidance of solid never making a mistake officers, again a product of the time it was made.
Years since I have seen it, Richard Todd a fine actor in his own right with some young up and coming british actors in supporting parts.
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on 15 September 2010
April 1949 the Modified Black Swan class sloop (later frigate) HMS Amethyst was on her way up the Yangtze river to relieve the guard ship HMS Consort at Nanking when she came under heavy fire from communist shore batteries, heavily damaged she ran aground near Rose island.

So starts one of, if not the best, post war navy movies. Having studied the whole incident I can say that over all this is a very good portrayal of the action. A lot of the minor action had to be left out due to the limited time frame for the movie and several characters have either been amalgamated or omitted. It's nice to see that Simon the ships cat is there but it's still a good movie and long over due on DVD

The quality of the DVD release is far superior to the older VHS edition, mine was so dark that the final battle between Amethyst and the fort at Woosung as to be unwatchable. The DVD is much better.

"Have rejoined the fleet off Woosung...God save the King."
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on 26 February 2016
I suppose I am going to say that this is a absolutely fantastic film.
There were three of my hometown friends on board the Amethyst. However it is a good film and well worth a viewing. Although the actor who playes the part of Jack French his Devonshire accent leaves a lot to be desired lol. Richard Todd Brilliant as ever.
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on 9 March 2014
Well worth watching,this typical,British postwar production faithfully covers an incident where a small British warship.HMS Amethyst,was trapped up the River Yangtse by the Chinese Communist government while going about its lawful business.I can vouch for the films accuracy,because I well remember the actual furore that it caused at the time,and the rejoicing that followed,when the ship finally escaped!
Richard Todd-who also played the part of Wing Commander Guy Gibson in the epic move"The Dambusters",is excellent as the ships captain,and interestingly,HMS Amethyst plays herself,perfectly of course,because the film was shot shortly before she was "retired"and scrapped.
The film also offers viewers an opportunity to see Norman Hartnell,who went on to become the first Doctor Who,turn in a very fine performance as a Leading Seaman,the"backbone of the Navy",to the point where at times,he almost "steals the show"
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on 20 October 2010
I saw this film on TV for the first time a few years ago and am delighted to now own it on DVD. It is a great, true story and all the more interesting for me as I had the privilege of knowing and working with Geoffrey Weston in Hong Kong during the 1970s. He was a wonderful, larger-than-life man with a keen sense of humour who excelled at chess and squash. He rarely, if ever, spoke about the Yangtse incident so this film, which according to other reviews is an accurate portrayal of what happened, provides an historic insight for me as to what took place in that far-flung corner of the world in 1949.

I would recommend this film to anyone who has enjoyed British war films made in the Fifties, or indeed anyone who can appreciate a spirit-lifting, true story of genuine British heroism.
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on 29 September 2016
Quite a good story without hitting any great heights. Rochard Todd is good and the script is adequate.
Very, little known post WW2 film of Brit. ship in Yangtse river incident-stuck between Communists on one river side and Nationalists on the other, one side decides to shell Brit. warship.
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on 5 January 2011
This is a superb film about the true story of the escape of HMS Amethyst from the Yangtse River in China during the Chinese civil war, when the communist forces imposed their domination over their country. As ever, Richard Todd plays a wonderful part of the Royal Naval Officer sent to take over the stranded ship when her Captain is killed in the action which lead to her being stranded in the Yangtse River. The plot for the Amethyst's escape and final breakout is very exciting and tense. The film was actually shot aboard HMS Amethyst who was rescued from the breaker's yard to make the film. There is some superb film of her guns in action and also an excellent supporting role played by William Hartnell(the first Dr.Who). However some of the 'mock' chinese part acting is squirm mongering!!
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on 22 April 2015
This DVD is clearly made from a tired old copy on film, as all the dirt, scratches, and muck are clearly visible. It's a shame nobody has seen fit to digitally 'clean' it up.
The film itself is a fair representation of what happened to HMS Amethyst, and considering the time it was made, (no CGI - no computers!) the 'fireworks' and explosions look good.
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