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Farewell To The King Review

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A British officer is parachuted into Borneo to try and convince the natives to rise against the Japanese during the latter stages of the second world war. Only to find, deep in the jungle, a US deserter ensconced as their king.

★★★★

It's 1945 and army captain Nigel Havers is parachuted into Borneo to stir the natives into the revolt against the Japanese. There he happens across King Learoyd (Nick Nolte), a US army deserter who now rules the interior of the country (shades of Kinski in Cobra Verde and Brando in Apocolypse Now).

What we have therefore, is a "clashing cultural values" situation - Learoyd's embrace of all things jungly versus Havers' sense of duty (to king, country and fiancee) tinged with reluctant respect for the latter day Tarzan.

Or this is what we would have if the film bothered with such diverse avenues as changing attitudes, developing relationships, the pull of the beautiful environment and how wars are directed from a safe distance. Instead it cops for a cliched storyline involving much hammy-looking soul-searching, as act or two of betrayal, a smidgen of bloodshed and a ludicrous ending that, by then, seems entirely logical.

Havers has a unique twist in the old "take me to your leader routine" in which he splutters "Look, I'm a Serving British Officer!" prior to offering fags round the native company (who understandably tie him up when he's asleep) while Nolte appears to habe based his performance on the bearded castaway who intermittently staggers onto shot during The Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Cliched and missing a great many of the opportunities on offer by the basic premise.

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