Blu-ray Review: THE VIRGIN SOLDIERS

THE  VIRGIN SOLDIERS is based on the novel of the same name by Leslie Thomas. The movie was directed by John Dexter from a screenplay by John Hopkins and stars Lynn Redgrave, Hywel Bennett, Nigel Patrick, Nigel Davenport, Rachel Kempson, Tsai Chin and David Bowie. The score is by Peter Greenwell.

Set in 1950 during the Malayan Emergency, The Virgin Soldiers (1969) is part service comedy, part serious look at the end of the British Empire, as seen through the eyes of more or less innocent recruits to the National Service. Brilliantly navigating the shifting tone are the divine Lynn Redgrave, Hywel Bennett, Nigel Davenport, Nigel Patrick, Rachel Kempson, and Jack Shepherd; directed by John Dexter, the film was shot on location in Singapore and Malaya by one of the great British cinematographers of the 1960s, Kenneth Higgins (Georgy Girl, Darling).

This 1969 war-time dramedy takes place during the Malayan Emergency and follows a group of fresh-faced new recruits that’s all about having a good time until their reality check eventually arrives. These recruits are stuck on the base where boredom sets in because there’s a lack of extracurricular activity and a huge absense of women. There is Phillipa Raskin (Lynn Redgrave), the one attractive female on base and the daughter of the Regimental Sergeant Major (Nigel Patrick) who doesn’t treat her very well. Or maybe he’s just overprotective? Anyway, there’s also Private Brigg (Hywel Bennett) who ends up meeting Phillipa but the first encounter doesn’t go too well because Brigg is inexperienced when it comes to the ladies and he also fears her father.

You see, Brigg also happens to be a virgin who wants to cash it in but he’s afraid of the diseases that the local prostitutes might have until Juicy Lucy (Tsai Chin) comes along. The young soldier finally checks his virginity off his list thanks to the lovable prostitute with a heart of gold but he still thinks about Phillipa but now sergeant Driscoll (Nigel Davenport) has made his move and he’s a much smoother operator. The thing about Phillipa is that she’s also a virgin who’s always been able to keep an emotional distance from the soldiers who are simply passing through. The main plot centers around this accidental love triangle between these three people with the war going on in the background until it’s finally pushed to the forefront.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, an image, a few quotes, and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features an image from the movie. The Blu-ray disc also features some artwork that matches the front cover. Inside is a booklet from Twilight Time that includes more images from the movie, some nice words about The Virgin Soldiers by Julie Kirgo and more original artwork on the front and back. You can see the front cover of the booklet down below. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any serious issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, I enjoyed watching The Virgin Soldiers and it’s a movie that I had to sit on and let settle a bit because I wasn’t sure how much I liked it in the beginning. Now that I’ve digested everything for a while I can say that I did like it for a number of reasons. First of all, the movie not only shows the innocent side of war as it follows these mischievous and naive young recruits as well as some of the friendly locals they meet but it does eventually reveal with ugly side of war with a terrifying wakeup call during the final act. The movie starts out as a lighthearted day in the life comedy of that slowly turns into an intense coming-of-age drama. The Virgin Soldiers is definitely a character driven dramedy that has some great performances by the cast and I thought John Dexter did a really good job with his directorial debut. Fans of “M*A*S*H” will see a similarity between the two. The Virgin Soldiers is now available on Blu-ray and has a Limited Edition run of 3,000 units.

Distributor: Twilight Time

Run Time: 95 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1) Region Free

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: The extras include an isolated music track and original theatrical trailer.

  • Isolated Music Track
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (03:12)

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