King is a story about an American soldier (Nick Nolte, looking a lot like he does now in real life), who deserts his WWII P.O.W. march on an island in Borneo and escapes into the jungle. Years later (the war is still raging), he's discovered by British soldiers: He's now a "king" of the local people -- headhunters -- and he no longer wears a shirt. The Brits convince him to join the fight agains the Japanese again, and he reluctantly agrees, training the soldiers for a giant battle ahead.
This is Nolte's movie, hands down, who rises above some iffy material. The film is engrossing for its first hour, then slips into some old tropes: Training half-naked headhunters how to shoot guns? How many movies have we seen this in before? The last half of the film is one big war scene, but lacking any historical perspective -- this is, after all, wholly fictional -- the film loses its grip on the audience. Even Nolte's flowing locks can't rescue some drippy "Noooooooooooooo!" moments late in the game.
It's a fun ride overall, fortunately, and even some over-the-top histrionics don't keep it from being worth a look. At least for the first half.
Run time: 117 mins
In Theaters: Friday 3rd March 1989
Distributed by: MGM
Production compaines: Cine Location Services, David Hannay Productions, Film Plan Financing Number 1, Ruddy Morgan Productions, Southeast Asia Film Location Services Sdn. Bhd.
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Fresh: 6 Rotten: 5
IMDB: 6.3 / 10
Director: John Milius
Producer: Andre Morgan
Screenwriter: John Milius
Starring: Nigel Havers as Capt. Fairbourne, Frank McRae as Sgt. Tenga, Gerry Lopez as Gwai, Nick Nolte as Learoyd, Marilyn Tokuda as Yoo, Choy Chang Wing as Lian, Aki Aleong as Col. Mitamura, Marius Weyers as Sgt. Conklin, William Wise as Dynamite Dave, Wayne Pygram as Bren Armstrong, Richard Morgan as Strech Lewis, Elan Oberon as Vivienne, James Fox as Col. Ferguson, Michael Nissman as Gen. Sutherland, John Bennett Perry as Gen. MacArthur
Also starring: John Milius