The story of one of the greatest admirals in naval history is told in this historical epic from director Roel Reiné.
On July 31, 1653, the final battle of the first Anglo-Dutch War was held in the midst of a political dissention between the Repiblicans and Orangists of the Netherlands. The Battle of Scheveningen claimed the life of Admiral Maarten Tromp. Johan De Witt, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands under Prince Willem III, knows the man who could replace the late Tromp as the new naval admiral. His name is Michiel De Ruyter.
At first, De Ruyter finds himself unfit to take the title. In addition, many feel that Tromp’s son Cornelis has the ability to follow in his father’s footsteps. However, De Witt decides he must do whatever it takes to ensure that De Ruyter accepts the job as Admiral. Eventually, De Ruyter does take the position in the midst of the second Anglo-Dutch War. King Charles II of England, determined to take over the Netherlands, goes as far as attempting to coerce Prince Willem III into joining him under his rule. De Ruyter does whatever he can, overcoming all obstacles, to ensure hard fought victories with his fellow Dutchmen and he soon realizes his destiny as one of the great admirals in military history, even finding the Dutch Marine Corps in 1665.
Roel Reiné is a filmmaker who may be best known for his straight-to-DVD B-movie action films and sequels in Hollywood. However, with his return home to the Netherlands, he delved into creating a historical epic about Michiel De Ruyter (1607-1676). Reiné has been a saving grace of action cinema in Hollywood with his straight-to-DVD sequels and action films. However, this film takes the cake as perhaps one of the best, if not the best film Reiné has brought to the masses.
The role of Michiel De Ruyter was originally meant for Yorick van Wageningen, but when he opted not to take the role, Frank Lammers took over the role. Saying that Lammers did well in the role of De Ruyter is an overwhelming understatement. Lammers truly owned the role of De Ruyter, who experiences all sorts of obstacles on and off the high seas. He deals with losing his child, the political rivalries within his own country, and both internal and external conflicts in the Anglo-Dutch Wars. The film’s opening battle has a special cameo from Rutger Hauer as the doomed Maarten Tromp, who more or less, seals De Ruyter’s fate as his successor.
The supporting cast is top notch in this film as well. Barry Atsma is great as Prime Minister Johan De Witt, who not only does what it takes to ensure De Ruyter as the Admiral, but becomes his closest ally and friend. Sanne Langelaar is terrific in her role of De Ruyter’s third wife Anna, who is concerned of her husband’s career and how it could affect their personal lives, and that it does. Veteran Derek de Lint plays the conniving Kievit, who is determined to use any means necessary to ensure De Ruyter and De Witt are thwarted as a way to make sure he gets his way within the government.
Egbert Jan Weeber is quite great as the young Prince Willem III, who seems somewhat young-minded at times. However, in times of need for his country, he truly brings his support to De Ruyter and De Witt, even though the Admiral was raised in a different light in terms of political views. Charles Dance, whom many will know for his role in 1986’s The Golden Child, once again shows how much of a great villain actor he can play in the role of the devious King Charles II of England, who goes to great lengths to ensure England takes over the Netherlands.
The naval battles themselves are exciting to watch with their excellent use of stunts and visual effects. The action looks realistic and at times extremely shocking when seeing injuries the sailors sustain. However, they show how far Michiel De Ruyter is willing to go to make sure the Netherlands stay their own regime and do not fall under the likes of England and France. It is clear to see why De Ruyter is truly one of the greatest admirals in any navy. This may have been 17th Century but it shows that despite the rivalries during the war, De Ruyter had been given a level of respect that could never be denied.
Admiral is a truly wonderful historical epic that brings out the story of Michiel De Ruyter as one of history’s greatest naval officers. In addition, Roel Reiné truly brings his heart and soul into this film as this is perhaps one the best films he has ever directed and lensed.
If you love historical epics, take this film and have a double feature with another film of this title, the Korean historical epic The Admiral: Roaring Currents.
WFG RATING: A+
XLrator Media presents a Farmhouse Film & TV production in association with Ciné Cri De Coeur, AVROTROS, and Grid-vfx. Director: Roel Reiné. Producer: Klaas de Jong. Writers: Alex van Galen and Lars Boom. Cinematography: Roel Reiné. Editing: Radu Ion.
Cast: Frank Lammers, Sanne Langelaar, Barry Atsma, Lieke van Lexmond, Derek de Lint, Egbert-Jan Weeber, Roeland Fernhout, Hajo Bruins, Charles Dance, Rutger Hauer