The Fortunes of War (1994) 





Director:    Thierry Notz.

Starring:    Matt Salinger (Peter Kernan), Sam Jenkins (Johanna Pimmler), Haing S. Ngor (Khoy Thuon), Martin Sheen (Francis Labeck), Michael Ironside (Carl Pimmler), Michael Nouri (Father Aran), Frankie J. Holden (Rodger Crawley), Vic Diaz (Colonel Shan), John Getz (Franklin Hewitt), Louie Katana (Corporal), Joonee Gamboa (Sifu, Witch), Ronnie Francisco (Pakong Hotel Manager), Ronnie Lazaro (Border Patrol Lieutenant), Adriana Agcaoili (Young Thai Nun), Miguel Toledo (Eric).

a relief worker sent to Cambodia knowing nothing about the politics in the nation finds himself in deep trouble


Spoiler Warning:

This movie is not good for history buffs. The only thing you learn is that the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia are very bad guys (although they don’t really say why) and trying to get supplies into the Cambodian people is a very dangerous endeavor. It’s basically a crime drama, which could have been set virtually anywhere.

In Thailand Canadian diplomat Carl Pimmler gives his friend, relief worker Peter Kernan, the job of driving a truck full of supplies into Cambodia. This is a very dangerous assignment as the vicious Khmer Rouge are in charge in Cambodia. When Peter drops off the supplies, he is to pick up some gold from the commander there.

Peter is good friends with a Cambodian named Khoy Thuon. Khoy agrees to go with Peter on the dangerous assignment. They go to a party together and Peter sees a beautiful woman that he wants to pick up. The woman is French and looks like a model. Peter tries to talk with her but she is just not interested in talking with him. One might say she was so short and to the point with Peter that she was actually rude.

On the day Peter and Khoy are set to drive to Cambodia, Carl Pimmler really surprises them by sending his wife, involved in relief work, with them. The guys are really opposed to taking a woman on such a dangerous assignment. Carl Pimmler will watch their son, Erik. Peter and Khoy are shocked when the wife and son appear. The woman Johanna is the pretty French woman who Peter had tried to pick up.

The relief workers are given a military escort, but the relief group doesn’t trust them. They find out from the Thai military commander Col. Shan that he wants the gold. There are a lot of difficulties which the relief workers face on the drive. They visit a village where Dr. Labeck helps the villagers.

The next day Peter goes alone into Cambodia. Khoy will return to Thailand. In Cambodia the Khmer Rouge are very dangerous and Peter is always on edge thinking that he could be shot at anytime. He reaches his destination. The fellow in charge there seems to be a bit sadistic and likes killing people, regardless of whether they are guilty or innocent of anything.

The Khmer Rouge leader decides that he is not going to give the gold to the relief worker. So Peter has to think of a scheme to get the gold onto his truck and get it out of Cambodia. To do this Peter takes the Khmer Rouge leader hostage. He then has the leader tell his men and women to throw down their weapons. Peter puts the weapons into the back of the truck. Among the weapons are some RPGs, rocket propelled grenades, which give Peter some real fire power. Peter knocks out the leader and then uses a couple of RPGs to blow up the Khmer Rouge shacks.

Peter gets away from the Khmer Rouge and back to Dr. Sheen’s village. There he picks up Johanna and the escort. Peter has to stop along the way because the jeep in front blocks the road. The escort leader says the jeep has broken down. Peter tells him to let him give them a hand. He revs up the truck and pushes the jeep off a cliff. He and Johanna then drive off in the truck and away from the escort leader. The leader jumps into the second cheep to give chase. Peter has to stop and use an RPG to disable the jeep that is chasing him. Johanna is so pleased with him that she gives him a kiss.

Peter drives to a friendly village where he and Johanna stay awhile. Johanna and Peter are falling more and more in love over time. Peter tells her to stay in the village and he will be back to get her. Peter also tells her that he has hidden the gold and won’t tell her where it is for her safety.

Peter goes through a gauntlet of attempts to stop him and take the gold. Once again, Peter is able to survive the gauntlet. Meanwhile, however, those Thai forces wanting the gold show up at the small village and take Johanna hostage.

Peter drives to see Carl Pimmler who turns out to be just another fellow trying to get his hands on the gold. He is leaving at 10 p.m. and plans to throw the gold onto a plane and take off in an airplane with it. Peter leaves. He is chased and caught by Col. Shan’s men. They take Peter to see the colonel. He in turn shows Peter that he has Johanna. Peter tells Col. Shan to meet him at the airport at 10 p.m. Carl will be there and Peter will have the gold with him.

Peter, Khoy and Johanna’s son Erik arrive at the airport. Carl is already there with a plane waiting for him. Peter won’t give Carl the gold until Carl gives him Erik. The exchange is made, but, before Carl can leave with the gold, the top Thai boss, Col Shan, arrives in his limousine. He gives up Johanna in exchange for the gold. Carl doesn’t want to give it up, but Peter says he has no choice. Peter gives the gold to the top boss and tells Khoy to take Johanna and Erik and get out of here. Khoy reluctantly obeys.

Carl goes ballistic and shoots Col. Shan to death. A gunman kills Carl in turn. Peter starts running away to escape. The gunman sends the soldiers in jeeps off to catch Peter. Meanwhile, the gunman shoots the two soldiers with him, so he can take all the gold for himself.

The running Peter is confronted by three jeeps full of soldiers. The leader of Peter’s escort gets out of his jeep, stops and then salutes Peter. He gets back in his jeep and all the jeeps drive off.

Peter gets back to Khoy, Johanna and Erik. After greeting Peter, they wonder what happened to the gold. He tells them that he gave Col. Shan lead bars covered with a coating of gold. He has hidden the gold with Khoy’s old man neighbor who has it still. The old man brings out a big jug and lets it fall on the ground. The jug breaks open, exposing the gold. Everyone is relieved. A Catholic father shows up and Peter gives him the gold to sponsor the father’s great missionary work.

Peter, Johanna and Erik travel together to an international airport. With Carl dead, Peter asks Johanna if she has ever been to Seattle? She says Peter told her that he loves humanity at large, but does not love the individual people. Peter says he would like to give it a try with Johanna. Johanna and Peter are very happy now.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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