One of the bloodiest battles of World War II spawns an American hero named Desmond Doss in this graphic drama. He was an Army Medic that refused to touch a weapon even in the chaos of war.
There are countless war films that have made it to the big screen. Many of them try to depict a compelling story that involves a brave individual who stands strong among his men. These heroes appear larger than life, and always triumph in the end. This is the Hero’s Journey, and it’s been done time and time again. But what if the main character was an unlikely hero? What if he doesn’t have the prestige, glamour and respect of his men? What if he’s just a Private in a small platoon whose beliefs prevent him from bearing arms? Sounds crazy right? Well, this is exactly what Hacksaw Ridge is about, and it’s based on an actual person!
Desmond Doss was a poor boy from Virginia. His father served in World War I, and was drastically affected by the experience. He really didn’t want to see his boys die in the Second World War Nevertheless, Desmond and his brother both felt compelled to join up, just like all young men did back then. The only catch was Desmond refused to put his hands on a weapon. He wouldn’t touch a gun, knife, or anything. In training, he refused to even test fire a rifle. It was absurd. Who the hell joins the Army thinking he can do so without firing a weapon? And who in their right mind would think to go onto a battlefield without some type of protection? Well, Desmond Doss did, and he resisted the entire way through. In basic training, he talked his way out of firing a rifle, claiming to be a conscientious objector (CO). This didn’t come without recourse though. He lost the respect of his peers and fellow men. They mocked him, thought he was crazy, and even beat him bloody. They wanted Desmond out because they knew he would be worthless on the battlefield. Little did they know he would be their guardian angel.
Desmond Doss eventually found a way to convince his piers that he would serve bravely in battle. No one believed him, but they started to respect his position. Desmond refused to take a life, and decided to become a medic to save lives instead. This proved to be quite helpful when the boys stormed Hacksaw Ridge. There were massive losses on that battlefield, and it was Doss who carried the wounded to safety. He risked his life to save all those around him, without every touching a weapon. It was a miraculous feat that stunned all those on and off the battlefield. He save more than 74 lives during the battle, and single-handedly lowered them down the ridge. Men who would have died terrible and painful deaths owed their lives to Desmond. He was a Hero in the truest form. There were two things that kept Desmond alive on that ridge: faith in God, and love for his sweet Dorothy (Teresa Palmer). Every time he saved a man, he prayed that God let him save one more. He said this over and over. He even saved some of the Japanese soldiers.
Think Desmond Doss can survive one of the bloodiest battles of World War II without firing a single shot towards the enemy? You’ll have to tune in to find out!
The menu consists of several looping clips from the film. The menu options are listed along the bottom, and include: Play Movie, Set Up, Scenes, and Special Features. The ‘Set Up’ option lets viewers choose the Audio and Subtitle tracks for the film. The ‘Audio’ tracks include: English Dolby Atmos, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, and English 2.0 Dolby Digital – Audio Optimized for Late Night Listening. The ‘Subtitle’ tracks consist of the same two languages as the audio. The ‘Scenes’ option displays three chapters at a time. Each one is numbered and includes a snapshot from the scene.
Now let’s take a look at the Special Features included with this 4K release!
– The Soul of War: Making Hacksaw Ridge (1:09:45 HD): This lengthy feature takes a look at the real Desmond Doss, and how he became the hero he’s recognized as today. Doss was a humble man who did what he did for duty, not glory. Hollywood kept trying to buy his ‘life-rights,’ but Doss wouldn’t have anything to do with it. He was just an ordinary human being that did something extraordinary. He didn’t feel people should hold him up on a pedestal. He was a remarkable and pure man who felt that taking lives was the wrong thing to do. Nevertheless, he wanted to serve in World War II. Most of those around him thought he was crazy, but he didn’t care. He was convinced what he did was in service to God. The cast and crew also discuss the minor liberties taken to make this a compelling film. They wanted to stay as true to the actual history as possible, but also wrote the scenes in a way that developed a great story. The characters mentioned were there, but they didn’t necessarily interact with Doss the way it’s portrayed. The cast and crew also give Mel Gibson a lot of credit for this film. He’s a unique guy with a ton of experience in both Acting and Directing. Everyone felt he brought out the best in everyone at all times. There was a lot of love and appreciation on the set of this film, and it shows in the brief interviews with the cast and crew. There’s a lot to see in this feature, so fans will have to check it out!
– Veterans Day Greeting with Mel Gibson (1:02 HD): This is a brief clip of Mel Gibson addressing the viewers of Hacksaw Ridge, and honoring the Veterans of the United States. It’s a great tribute to those who’ve served.
– Deleted Scenes (4:32 HD): Fans of the film will want to check out these few deleted scenes. They didn’t make the final cut, but display additional dialog between the characters seen in the film.
– Theatrical Trailer (2:33 HD): The trailer for the film does a great job building excitement for the film.
Now let’s take a look at the technical side of this 4K Blu-ray release.
The 2160p 4K UltraHD + High Dynamic Range (HDR) image comes with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1, so there will be black bars along the top and bottom of your 4K HDTV display. No need to worry though, as the image quality will likely make you forget about those pesky black bars. This film was captured digitally with a 2K Digital Intermediate master format. In some cases, the upscale to 4K doesn’t provide much additional clarity, but in the case of Hacksaw Ridge it does just that! The colors are brighter, likely due to the inclusion of HDR, and the clarity is top notch. Viewers will see all sorts of details on the actors, especially during the close-up shots. I was constantly mesmerized by Teresa Palmer’s vivid blue eyes in this transfer. Her bright red lipstick is lively as well. These are the types of details most would like to see in a high-quality 4K transfer. What I was anticipating though, were the graphic details to be seen on the battlefield. I knew the battle would be long, and figured I would see some disturbing and dismembered soldiers, but just you wait. This film is bloody, gruesome, and incredibly graphic. The warzone on top of the ridge can be a hard one to watch. There are countless shots of men with globs of tangled meat hanging from where their arms and legs used to be. When some of the soldiers get shot, it’s not just once either. They’re shot in the head, chest, legs, and the exit wounds are horrific. Men are scorched with flamethrower, blown apart by grenades, and other projectiles. It’s all-out war and it is chaotic. There’s plenty of death in various stages of decomposition to see as well. This war film is not for the faint of heart, folks. It’s like the intro to Saving Private Ryan, but much longer and way more graphic.
The Dolby Atmos track will pull viewers right into the action, especially during the battle scenes. Explosions, screams, whizzing bullets, echoed blasts from battleships and more will completely surround the viewer in this audio transfer. Viewers will feel like they’re knee-deep in the mud with the soldiers. Prior to the battle, the audio tracks are utilized equally well. The dialog takes place front and center most of the time, while the rear channels are used for ambience and musical scores. They kick in just in time to assist with an implied emotion that can quickly bring a viewer to tears. It’s superbly done. These effects and soundtracks never dominate the dialog in the first half of the film. They do, however, blast over the shouts of the confused soldiers during battle. This is to be expected though, and adds additional realism to the scenes. This is a fantastic sounding transfer.
Overall, Hacksaw Ridge is a very compelling film about a young man who wanted to be a medic in World War II. The fact that he refused to touch a gun in fear of taking another man’s life was noble, and it took a long time before those around him would give their respect. They believed he was going to die immediately without a weapon, but he simply did his job of saving lives instead. Desmond Doss was a hero to the men around him, and even to those who rejected his thoughts and beliefs. The fact that this film is based on an actual person is incredible. He saved a lot of lives that would have otherwise been lost on the ridge during that battle.
If you are looking for an epic war film that’s sure to blow you away with graphic visuals, don’t hesitate to check this one out. The love story between Doss and Dorothy is a powerful bond of love that prevailed the pains of war. Dorothy was a huge part of Desmond’s drive, and he came back home to live out the rest of their years together. This is a touching and graphic depiction of what life was like during that era, and one that should never be forgotten. Pick it up on 4K UltraHD Blu-ray today!