Yangtse Incident aka Battle Hell In 1949, during the Chinese Civil War, British warship H.M.S. Amethyst sails up the Yangtse river but on the return trip finds its way blocked by a barrage fire from the Communist Chinese shore batteries.
Yangtse Incident aka Battle Hell The British frigate Amethyst is on a lawful run up the Yangtze River to provide supplies to the British embassy at Nanking. Communist Chinese forces are
victorious in the region and are marching on the city. As the ship travels upriver, Communist artillery batteries unexpectedly open fire. The frigate desperately fights back, but runs ashore after sustaining casualties and damage. The
situation settles into a diplomatic affair with the local Communist commander demanding all sorts of unreasonable concessions in order to allow the stricken vessel to leave.
For me, this dramatization of the real life incident involving HMS Amethyst on the Yangtze River counts as among the best in the genre. Action sequences
are realistic, especially for the time period. Especially remarkable is that the actual ship was used for part of the filming. The performances range from good to excellent. Highly recommended.
As good as I had recalled
I recently got a copy of this film on VHS. I was expecting to be disappointed as I haven’t seen this film in about 35-40 years! I often get a film I once enjoyed find it doesn’t live up my memories. But, I was pleasantly surprised with this film.
There are, of course, some period stereotypes, especially racial (Akim Tamiroff again plays the evil oriental….), but they are minor annoyances as the story unfolds.
I had read that H.M.S. Amethyst had actually been used for the film and was so badly damaged during the filming due to underwater explosions that she was soon scrapped. I can now see why this might have happened. There are quite a few detonations in the water very close to the hull.
While watching the film I felt it could just as well have been a good story from Hornblower, Aubrey etc. Take away the modern vessel and replace it with a wooden ship and you have a timeless (true) tale.
Richard Todd (who served as a paratrooper on D-Day) plays with the authority he often gave to many similar roles (like the Dam Busters).
It was fun to see that Bernard Cribbins and Ian Bannen were unlisted in the role list. They were novices, and were actually both quite good in this film.
I highly recommend seeing this film!