In World War II, a surgeon and an assorted group of patients and trained personnel face off with an attack from the other side while under-equipped and under-prepared.
Written and directed by Brandon Slagle, this war drama/action film is one that follows a team not often seen on film with the medical crew and doctors at a US camp. It’s an interesting take on the Second World War, giving a view of those who were injured and those who weren’t necessarily fight-ready. The characters here are developed in a way that allows most of them to have humanity before the fight is brought to them. There way the film brings the viewer in with a well-choreographed and shot fight scene, then moves into character development before the last third where it becomes an out and out war film. The writing and directing here are clearly done with interest in the subject and a desire to make an entertaining film that is more than just gunshots, explosions, and fists in faces. Yes, there are fights and battles, but there is a lot more than that here. It’s a human story more than a war story, it’s about the people stuck in the situation at hand, not necessarily prepared for what is coming for them or, in some cases, quite prepared yet still not ready.
The lead cast here will be quite familiar to action film fans as it is led by Casper Van Dien and Louis Mandylor with an appearance by Jeff Fahey. All three of them do good work here, with Van Dien getting the meatier part and Mandylor getting one great fight sequence near the start. Van Dien and Mandylor carry the film here, giving performances that more than just work, they carry the film and keep the viewer involved. In smaller parts, Eoin O’Brien and Devanny Pinn steal a few scenes, showing that the right parts in the right hands can really shine even when they don’t get as much screen time. The cast as a whole is dedicated here and there are no bad performances, so the ensemble is one that should be commended.
The cinematography by Niccolo De La Fere paired with the editing by Austin Nordell work to bring the story to life and really give the scenes and sequences the right look and timing. The first fight of the film is shot and edited in a way that is dynamic and still shows the action. There is no over-editing here, the movement and energy of the fight are felt, but they are not editing within a second of their life. The viewer can actually see the fight and really get into it which helps the film grab the attention from the very start. The other fight sequences, or battle sequences in most cases, have their own energy and work quite well, in big part due to their filming and editing.
Battle for Saipan is a well-done on all levels war action drama that will appeal to action film fans with good fights, entertaining action sequences that are edited just right, and strong performances from the whole ensemble. It’s the kind of action film that shows a care for the craft and a desire to show something more than just a bunch of bullets flying.