Jason Donovan and Russell Crowe!


How could I not have been intrigued[1] by that mix when I saw those names flash up on the screen. I had been flicking while the dinner was on and seeing as there was nothing else on I decided, sure I may as well watch it. It being Blood Oath.

Not a terribly cheery film for a sunny-ish Wednesday afternoon, but interesting. It was made back in 1990[2] and was concerned with the tribunals held on the island of Ambon to investigate the abuse of the Australian POWs held by the Japanese there during WWII.

As a film it was a little slow, and could have done with being sharpened up here and there. However, because of the subject matter it actually worked quite well.

Spoilers below

And I suppose it achieved its purpose in making you think. The tagline, according to IMDb, is Where does war end and murder begin? I don’t think it really answered the question, but that is part of the point. It was also interesting to look at the case of Lt. Tanaka(Toshi Shioya), who admitted his role in executing one of the Australian prisoners, but believed that it was a legal act. It wasn’t. There had been no trial, no court-martial and therefore Lt. Tanaka acted illegally. But he was one of the few to show remorse for his acts. He had questioned the treatment of the Australians and believed that what he was doing was a legal order that he had to obey. Nevertheless, the tribunal found him guilty and had him executed.

Making me think that in cases like this there really is no justice. He committed a crime, and was punished accordingly, but was that the right thing to do?

There is a legally-type saying that says that hard cases make bad law. But maybe it is simply that laws is ill-equipped to deal with these types of hard cases. Increasingly I think I’m starting to favour a more anarchist version. Not entirely, I don’t think that everyone should get to make up their own laws, but when procedure, precedent, and mandatory sentences get in the way of justice then I do think there is a problem.

Then again, one man’s justice maybe another’s getting away with breaking the law.

Linknotes:
  1. okay, so intrigued might be slightly too strong an expression. Mildly interested is possibly more accurate
  2. remember when the 90s were futuristic?
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