Three Kings (David O. Russell, 1999): US

Reviewed by Maria Zermeno. Viewed at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2020.

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Three Kings is a 1999 war, action, and comedy film which was written and directed by David O. Russell. This film was an amazing and powerful experience which was totally worth the watch. Three Kings is essentially about 3 young soldiers trying to help a group of immigrant rebels cross safely from Iraq into Iran, but they encounter many life threatening situations along the way. However, the film does not begin like this and nor did these soldiers know what they were getting themselves into. In the beginning, just after the end of the Gulf War, four American soldiers decide to steal tons of hidden gold that Iraq had stolen from Kuwait. They were able to find the hidden area where the gold was hidden when they discovered a map wedged in between someone’s private area. This scene alone was disturbing to watch yet so funny at the same time and had the audience in shock. Once the soldiers journeyed to the location on the hidden map, they encountered a group of rebel citizens who had been dominated by Iraqi Republican Guard troops. The encounter between the American soldiers and the Iraqi guards was only the beginning of their brutal fight. The film has many gruesome and hard scenes to watch for those that have weak stomachs, but it was still interesting to see something that isn’t normally done in films. The gruesome scenes involve the result of a bullet entering the body and how it damages the internal organs. Although these scenes were unpleasant to watch, it was interesting to see how a bullet reacts once inside the body. At a Q&A with director David O. Russell, he explained why it was important for him to create these scenes and why he wanted to incorporate it into the film. David explained that when we see someone suffer a gunshot wound we only see the external side of the damage and never really know what happens internally. So, it was important for him to take brutal scenes to another level and show the damage happening on the inside which I thought made the film unique in its own way. The film is about war but it also had a lot of comedic aspects to it before the story took on a more serious tone. Later on in the film, we see the American soldiers unite with the rebel citizens and we see them experience the struggles of escaping the corrupt government of Iraq. The American soldiers attempt to help the rebels cross into Iran which was not an easy task and they ultimately put their lives at risk in doing so. Despite Three Kings being a war film, it also has a lot to do with humanity and shows how two different groups of people can unite and help one another. At times, there were suspenseful scenes that kept the audience on the edge of their seats and never knowing how things would end. This film has become one of my favorites because not only is it funny and suspenseful, it shows just how far people are willing to go when either terrorizing someone or helping them survive even if it means risking their own lives. Three Kings is a must watch film and definitely worth watching.

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