Growing up, I lived in a small town near a military base, which housed the only movie theater for one hundred miles. I spent a great deal of time watching movies in which I had no clue what I was watching, but loved the spectacle of it all. When I was 11, I remember heading to the base to see a film that I (once again) had no clue what it was about but knew that Michael Caine (who I had a MAD crush on) and Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) were in it, so that was good enough for me.
That film was the 1981 classic, Victory.
Directed by John Huston and based on a true story, Victory (or as it’s known overseas, Escape To Victory) is set against the backdrop of the Nazi-occupation during WWII and centered around a group of Allied POWs (most of whom were pro-soccer players before the war) in a German prison camp who concoct an escape plan to occur while playing an exhibition match against the German National Team (where the fix was in before it even started) in Nazi-occupied Paris.
Comprised of actors and professional soccer players that include the iconic Pele (above), Victory was and is an amazing mix of history, drama and sport that, in my mind, few directors have been able to replicate successfully.
But that’s exactly what Warner Bros. is setting out to do, as THR reports that Gavin O’Connor (Miracle) is writing a remake and the studio is in talks with Doug Liman (Swingers, Go, Edge Of Tomorrow) to direct. Now I LOVE Doug Liman, and O’Connor’s Miracle (based on the true story of the U.S. mens hockey team’s hard fought journey to the gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics) is great stuff, but I’m not sure the kind of lightning created by the 1981 film can be caught in a bottle twice.
It would be like remaking Slap Shot, where ANYone stepping into the Reggie Dunlop role would PALE in comparison to the late, great Paul Newman. And while cats like Beckham (who I love) have tricks in their wheelhouse – whose free kicks actually “bend” the ball around the wall of defenders – there’s NOTHING like watching Pele and his iconic “bicycle kick.”
That kick right there made me bawl my eyes out and although I’d never played soccer before (and didn’t until college), when my dad asked me what lunchbox I wanted for the new school year, I pointed and said “THIS ONE.”
Whether I like it or not, this remake is happening, so I’ll reserve further judgment until it actually hits theaters. What do you think? Have you seen the original Victory? Is it time for a remake?
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