Bat 21: Gene Hackman, Danny Glover, Jerry Reed, David Marshall Grant, Clayton Rohner, Erich Anderson, Joe Dorsey, Michael Ng, Theodore Chan Woei-Shyong, Don Ruffin, Scott Howell, Michael Raden, Peter Markle, David Fisher, David Saunders, Evzen Kolar, Gary A. Neill, George Gordon, William C. Anderson: Movies & TV
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Bat 21 (1988)

Gene Hackman , Danny Glover , Peter Markle  |  R |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

Price: $23.39 & FREE Shipping on orders over $25. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Gene Hackman, Danny Glover, Jerry Reed, David Marshall Grant, Clayton Rohner
  • Directors: Peter Markle
  • Writers: George Gordon, William C. Anderson
  • Producers: Jerry Reed, David Fisher, David Saunders, Evzen Kolar, Gary A. Neill
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0), French (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: December 19, 2000
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004ZBVG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,151 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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  • Learn more about "Bat 21" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

When Gene Hackman's plane gets shot down behind enemy lines in Vietnam, he manages to hang on to his radio--and maintains contact with Danny Glover, back at the base. Hackman must rely on his own instincts--and the long-distance assistance of Glover--to work his way back to his own territory. The script, by Marc Norman and William Anderson, can't rise above war-movie clichés and Peter Markle's direction can't lift it. Neither can David Marshall Grant, as an overly passionate copter jockey whose rescue attempt proves more hindrance than help. But crafty veterans Hackman and Glover know a thing or two about transcending mediocre material with performances of depth and humanity. --Marshall Fine

Product Description

Only the bravest of men risk their lives to save others! In this "suspenseful and engrossing actiontale" (Boxoffice) based on a true-life rescue story, Oscar(r) winner* Gene Hackman (Unforgiven) and Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon) portray a pair of valiant American soldiers up against impossible odds for survival and rescue within war-torn Vietnam. After his reconnaissance plane is shot down behind enemy lines in Vietnam, Lt. Colonel Hambleton (Hackman), a career soldier who's used to calling the shots from behind a desk, must now figure out a way to survive in the jungle! Luckily for him, he manages to establish radio contact with an Air Force pilot, Bird-Dog (Glover), who makes it his mission to save his stranded comrade. To plan the dangerous rescue, the two soldiers communicate by secret code. But when the enemy intercepts their messages, it's only a matter of time before the code is broken...leaving both men at risk of being caught and imprisoned.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gene Hackman on the Golf Course in Viet Nam October 27, 2005
Gene Hackman is Lt. Colonel Iceal Hambleton. In real life Lt. Col. Hambleton was flying as a navigator on an EB-66 electronic countermeasures plane, call sign Bat-21. When a surface-to-air missile hits the plane, Col. Hambleton is the only man able to eject from the aircraft, landing in the northern portion of South Viet Nam. For the next eleven and a half days Col. Hambleton evaded capture by the North Vietnamese Army until he was rescued in one of the largest and most complex rescue missions of the Viet Nam War. These true events, for which 234 medals were awarded, inspired this movie.

In the movie Col. Hambleton is nearing possible rescue by a Jolly Green Giant rescue helicopter when Viet Cong destroy the helicopter. The Viet Cong, who are using the people of a nearby village to protect themselves from American attack since the Viet Cong know that Americans typically attempt to protect non-combatants, kill all the crew. However, this time the rage of Col. George Walker (Jerry Reed, in one of his best roles) causes the village to be destroyed by napalm bombs.

Col. Hambleton is on the run for his life, both from the North Vietnamese Army and from an impending air strike by B-52 bombers. Using the call sign Bat-21 and his URC-64 survival radio, Hambleton follows directions from forward air controller Captain Bartholomew Clark along a path based on golf courses that Col. Hambleton has played.

What I find amazing about this movie is that while there are events that illustrate the tragedy and inhumanity of the combat in Viet Nam, much of the movie focuses on the people in the movie. There is a touching moment where Col. Hambleton passes a boy on a bridge, and the two exchange gifts, forgetting for a moment the ideologically generated conflict going on around them. It is also apparent to me that Col. Hambleton had nothing against the Vietnamese people; he was just a soldier with a job to do.

Movies typically do a poor job portraying any war or combat, with few exceptions. Similarly, this movie misses much with respect to the true story. This movie also invents things that never happened, or misrepresents other events, likely all for the sake of pace and action. However, this movie does catch the spirit of one man surviving incredible odds in war to not only do his job, which was to fight an enemy, but to get himself rescued in the process. From that viewpoint this movie is a winner.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Gene Hackman Raises This Film to Minor Classic April 19, 2002
Perhaps, like me, you've come here after watching "Behind Enemy Lines" featuring Owen Wilson and, of course, Gene Hackman, who happens to star in this underrated film. Okay, the plot is almost the same as that action filck made with the technology of the year 2001, but, let me tell you, "BAT*21" gives its stress on a different matter than "Behind," and that is the characters played by the two leads.

As the film claims in the opening, the story about Lieutenant Colonel Iceal Hambleton whose airplane is shot down behind enemy lines in Vietnam is based on truth. Now becoming "BAT*21," his code name, he has to rely on a radio by which he maintains a contact with a pilot Captain Bartholomew Clerk (Danny Glover), who instructs and encourages him to overcome all the barriers waiting for him on the ground. But Lieutenant Colonel has no previous combat experience in his career, and the time for massive air raid that is certain to kill him is coming closer.

Frankly, some of the scenes are too incredible (especially when Captain tries to fly the helicopter, which he has not done for a long time). And you cannot expect the high-octaine action sequences, because the film's real focus is set in other places; that is, the bond between the two leading characters, which develops gradually through the unreliable radio contact. Precisely this human part is the greatest asset of "BAT*21" of which quality is raised by the extremely superb acting by Gene Hackman. He is, as usual with any first-rate actor you name, the real energy with his depiction of toughness and frailty, and his powerhouse performance lifts this sometimes clithed film to the above-average level among many other ones about this war.

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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
This movie based on the book of the same name (Bat 21), written by William C. Anderson, is the most contemptable collection of lies and bullcrap ever written about a Search and Rescue mission, developed, conducted and flown by the 1st USAF Special Operations Squadron (Douglas A-1 Skyraider...Call Signs: Sandy and Hobo). I was a USAF combat pilot assigned to both the 1st SOS and the 56th Combat Operations Wing at Nakom Phanom Thai Air Force Base during the period of this rescue. The movie and book is nothing more than a total distortion of the events, including the fictitous Birddog pilot, all done for the sake of greed and pure commercialism on the part of the author. The Bat 21 (EB-66 navigator) rescue mission, which in fact was a dual rescue, concurrent with Nail 38 (OV-10 pilot), shot down in the same area, at the same time, was one the most brilliantly conceived, heroic and unselfish Search and Rescue missions flown in the Vietnam War. So twisted and distorted is the movie, when compared to the truth, that is is scorned and reviled by almost every A-1 Skyraider pilot, and Jolly Green helicopter pilot who flew and sacrificed their lives (Jolly Green 67...5 KIA) on this SAR mission, for eight continuous days. Also deleted from the true story were the US Army RECONDO unit. It would almost take another book to tell the true story, compared to the manufactured fiction writen by the author.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This picture has been out since the 80's. I still love it though.
This was a skillfully written movie about two characters and their involvement in the Vietnam War like it or not. Read more
Published 10 days ago by William R. Peters
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
Mr Hackman did a great job and Danny GLover also. I love movies based on truth I woul recommend this to anyone
Published 1 month ago by Anne J LeVasseur
4.0 out of 5 stars The truth behind "Bat 21" was/is awesome.
The movie, scenic and story-line was great....but I was married to a Vietnam vet and the gruesome pictures were very hurtful as WAR is. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ida B Wilson
1.0 out of 5 stars spanish
i love this movie so I ordered it on amazon guess what the movie came and is in Spanish cant even play it
Published 2 months ago by james woods
5.0 out of 5 stars bat21
one of t he best dvd's that i have to date. i will be looking for more like it very soon
Published 2 months ago by leland hudson
4.0 out of 5 stars Bat 21
It played very well, and I enjoyed viewing movies again & again because there is always something I didn't catch before.
Published 2 months ago by Tom
5.0 out of 5 stars Again!
We have worn out the VCR tape TWICE watching this movie - we are real Oscar Deuce fans - MAYBE since we got DVD - it will last a few years! Read more
Published 2 months ago by Beth Low
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the money for a great movie.
Excellent character portrayals by both Hackman and seethes with action and suspense. The movie is tough to locate on WS DVD formatting, and rarely on TV... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Menotyou
1.0 out of 5 stars Did not get it.
I never got the movie to watch!!! I think I've been riped off by this jurk and I'm tired of people like this!
Published 5 months ago by Samuel B. Ayers
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
I would have rather had the dvd but for the price I am glad I ordered the vhs. The movie was just as it was advertised to be and I am glad to have it.
Published 5 months ago by jsl
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