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Escape To Victory (1981)


Now is the time for heroes.

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 116 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG


Escape to Victory is a prisoner of war film set during World War Two and vaguely based on the true story of a group of Ukranians footballers who played and beat their Nazi occupiers. Obviously, this is made for an audience of Brits and Americans so the action is transplanted to Western Europe and stars a big mess of big names from film and sport – Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine and Max von Sydow from the world of film and Pele, Bobby Moore and many others from the annals of football history.

Where do you start with the pitfalls and inconsistencies of this otherwise likeable movie? It’s got movie stars failing to play football convincingly, it’s got footballers failing to act, it’s got random South Americans in a POW camp in Europe and it’s got Sylvester Stallone playing a character who just about justifies his inclusion.

These are all mere trifles that can be overlooked if you take the movie with a pinch of salt. On the plus side, it’s got a mixture of engaging action, sports scenes and adventure, it is actually fun to spot random footballers, it’s got Sly making a tit of himself and it’s got Max von Sydow playing a German in the way only he knows how. Basically, it’s a fun watch that’s great entertainment if you take it the right way.

But it is only so bad, it’s good if you are easily won over by war films and/or football. This will not be everyone’s cup of tea and many will just see it as ridiculous and inconsistent with very a basic plot. Essentially, follow this simple rule if you’re thinking of watching Escape to Victory: if you don’t know who Ossie Ardiles is, exercise caution, if you don’t know who Pele is, don’t bother.

It's Got: A very random cast, likeability, basic but engaging action and plot

It Needs: To be watched before a big football match, to be watched in the right mood, more acting and football skills classes for it's stars

DVD Extras Not got the special treatment yet - trailers and production notes are all we get DVD Extras Rating: 1/10


So bad it’s good. Unless you don’t like war films, Sly Stallone or football. In which case, what is wrong with you?