Blu-ray Review: “The Flying Tigers”

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Review by Ann McDonald

Capt. Jim Gordon’s command of the famed American mercenary fighter group in China is complicated by the recruitment of an old friend who is a reckless hotshot.

Prior to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, a group of American mercenaries defend the Chinese from the bombs being dropped on them by the Japanese Air Force. These men are a mixed group and are all ace pilots. The story is a bit thin but the action sequences for that time, are very well done. The re-use of much of the same aerial dogfights was understandable, though seeing the same guy and the same plane get his just desserts, over and over again, brought a little smile to my face.

The leader of this group is Captain Jim Gordon (a very young John Wayne) while his love interest is the beautiful nurse, Brooke (Anna Lee), who runs the Chinese refugee camp for children and also where the men keep their planes. The crew call themselves ‘The Flying Tigers.’ Naturally, with a mixed group of guys like this, you get a lot of disagreements and it makes up a fair amount of the dialogue. Our antagonist is Woody (John Carroll), a guy who forgot to grow up but has an enduring respect for Captain Gordon.

However, the events of Pearl Harbor changes everything and a bridge, vital to the Japanese, has to be taken out. This sequence was one of the best scenes in the movie, and considering it was a movie made in 1942, I was very impressed. The ending has no end, as such, the war is just beginning and it’s something to see a young John Wayne in a role he would go on to play, over and over again. We most certainly love our heroes. It was interesting to see the movie techniques and mind sets for its time. Worth a look.

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Ann McDonald

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