Inchon (1981)

PG   |    |  Drama, History, War

Inchon (1981) Poster

During the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur masterminds the amphibious invasion of Inchon in September 1950.



  • Jacqueline Bisset in Inchon (1981)
  • Laurence Olivier and Kung-won Nam in Inchon (1981)
  • Inchon (1981)
  • Laurence Olivier and Terence Young in Inchon (1981)
  • Laurence Olivier in Inchon (1981)
  • Ben Gazzara and Richard Roundtree in Inchon (1981)

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11 May 2004 | barnabyrudge
Infamous flop. A badly-scripted, badly-acted, and badly-conceived Korean War epic.
Inchon exists in at least three versions, all of them very rare: a 90 minute British video version called "Operation Inchon"; a 105 minute version; and the full 140 minutes version released theatrically in 1981. This is a review of the 140 minute version.

The past twenty years or so have turned Inchon into one of the film industry's great jokes. Its huge budget, and the meagre box office returns it made, have also destined it to forever be remembered as the biggest flop of all-time. If ever a film deserved to be labelled as "infamous", then Inchon is it.

Laurence Olivier top-bills as Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Highly decorated for his WWII heroics, MacArthur is called upon to repel an army of communist forces from North Korea who have invaded their South Korean neighbours in 1950. Against the will of his colleagues, MacArthur masterminds an ambitious landing at the awkwardly-situated port of Inchon. Interwoven into this invasion story are several sub-plots, including the story of Barbara Hallsworth (Jacqueline Bisset), an American lady who leads a group of orphans to safety, and her husband Maj. Frank Hallsworth (Ben Gazzara), who is ordered to seize and hold a strategically important lighthouse in Inchon harbour.

It is extraordinary that a budget of over $45 million was allocated to such a badly scripted film. The dialogue is utterly laughable, almost in the style of an exceptionally bad, cheesy TV mini-series. Left helpless in the firing line by the terrible script, the actors (many of them greatly talented) give undisciplined performances. Olivier's turn as MacArthur, for example, is surreal in its awfulness. The battle scenes are done on a big scale but fail to convey authenticity or realism. And, worst of all, there's a peculiar religious subtext as MacArthur repeatedly rants on about the God-given justness he senses in the cause of America and her allies. The film has curiosity value (it's perversely interesting to see so many stars in such deep trouble) but beyond that it offers nothing worth your time.

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