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On October 3, 1993 American forces entered the Somalian capital Mogadishu. Their assignment is to capture Mohammed Farrah Aideed, a warlord whose militia has hijacked humanitarian aid intended for Somalia's starving population. A local tip-off reveals where Aideed's cabinet is meeting and a contingent of Ranger and Special Forces troops are despatched. When forces loyal to Aideed shoot down two of American's Black Hawk helicopters, the supposedly simple mission turns into a military disaster and a fight for survival by stranded US troops.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
War is hell and nowhere is this more vividly realised than in Ridley Scott's superbly directed Black Hawk Down. If anyone has the right to be disappointed at not winning an Oscar it's Scott, who was overlooked for this and Gladiator. He carries out his mission - to make us feel like we're in the middle of a war - with supreme skill for 138 pulse-pounding minutes. One of Black Hawk Down's trump cards is the use of a strong ensemble cast not weighed down by big stars.

There's no Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks or Russell Crowe to follow, knowing they'll survive. Idealistic staff sergeant Josh Hartnett, battle hardened veteran Tom Sizemore, desk-jockey Ewan McGregor or Delta Force member Eric Bana could be the next casualty of war. This translates into real tension as the Americans find themselves outnumbered and being picked off during a very long night in hell on earth. Black Hawk Down impresses because the physical and emotional conditions of warfare are captured by a filmmaker at the height of his powers. We're not told here that America initially backed Aideed and it had massive oil interests to protect but as an example of combat captured on camera this is as good as it gets.

If you've listened to Scott's excellent commentary track on Gladiator you'll be disappointed he hasn't done one for this disc. The featurette is quite good as these things go, with Scott, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and key cast imparting plenty of useful information about the shoot in Morocco and the unprecedented support of the US military during production. The widescreen transfer is technically outstanding, with the high contrast photography not flattened out as is too often the case with Australian DVDs. You'll hear every bullet and feel every chopper blade in the well separated surround sound mix of this stirring tribute to the men who fought.

Published August 22, 2002

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CAST: Tom Sizemore, Josh Hartnett, Eric Bana, Sam Shepard, Ewan McGregor, William Fichtner.

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

RUNNING TIME: 138 minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES: Making of Featurette, Filmographies, Trailer. Languages: English, Spanish Subtitles: English, English (H.O.H), Spanish.

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: August 21, 2002

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