Torpedo: U-235 (2020)

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A group of Belgian resistance fighters embark on a potentially dangerous mission in this World War II-set film from director Sven Huybrechts.

In 1941 Belgium, the Third Reich has attempted to take over a small town in Belgium. However, they find their attempt thwarted when a band of resistance fighters, led by Stan, successfully stop the Nazis from the invasion. Their actions have been met with both merit and with trouble as Stan has been known for his unorthodox ways of interrogation. The British government have offered Naval Admiral Maes a chance to use these resistance fighters for a mission that could change the course of the war.

The mission involves the resistance fighters going on a U-Boat and delivering a shipment of uranium to the United States. The reason involves the U.S. making a bomb that could help defeat the enemy. Maes informs the group that they will have to train for three weeks under the leadership of Franz Jäger, a German commander who has severed ties from the Third Reich. As the group bonds during their training and eventual mission, tensions rise when inner turmoil begins and worse, the group find themselves under attack from the enemy. Will they succeed in the mission or will they become casualties of war?

War films are quite a fascinating genre to work with because while the focus is on major battles, but rarely do you get to see films about the underdogs or the unsung heroes. For instance, John Woo’s Windtalkers revolved around Navajo Indians whose codes helped the U.S. against the Japanese forces. In last year’s Danger Close, we witnessed Australian and Kiwi forces fighting North Vietnamese troops in the Battle of Long Tan. For this film, it involves around Belgian resistance fighters who are tasked to deliver uranium to the United States for the eventual building of the atomic bomb.

The film’s driving factors are the relationships between the soldiers and their new commander as well as the conflicted nature of Belgian resistance leader Stan, excellently played by Koen De Bouw. Stan at first is the type of character who is that tough as nails leader who doesn’t take anything from anyone. He’s hard-headed and doesn’t follow orders and tends to get in trouble as seen in his interrogating one Nazi by forcing him into a bathtub full of water before putting a grenade in the tub, making the Nazi’s head explode much to the chagrin of his fellow soldiers.

During the film, we see Stan having flashbacks to see why he’s so cold-hearted and when it comes to his daughter Nadine, played by Ella-June Henrard, he’s so overprotective. Of course, when there is a reveal involving Nadine’s relationship with fellow resistance fighter Filip, played by Joren Seideslachts, he is of course naturally upset and angry. Eventually though, he does change his tune with both Nadine and German commander Jäger, played by the great Thure Riefenstein.

There are some very insane moments in the film, especially when a pivotal scene leads to a very disturbing moment involving one of the resistance fighters being seriously injured. And the end result is not seen off-screen but hearing it makes it all the cringeworthy. However, this just shows the reality that these soldiers went through when it comes to getting the mission complete as it could change the fate of the world forever.

Torpedo: U-235 is a riveting war film about unsung heroes, in this case Belgian resistance fighters in WWII, with Koen De Bouw and Thure Riefenstein driving the film as the conflicted resistance leader and the German commander who soon becomes their greatest ally.

WFG RATING: A-

Epic Pictures presents an Atlas International Film/A Team Productions film in association with Column Films/Pellikola/10.80 Films. Director: Sven Huybrechts. Producers: Hendrik Verthe and Kobe Van Steenberghe. Writers: Sven Huybrechts and Joren Horemans. Cinematography: Danny Elsen, Robrecht Heyvaert, and Kobe Van Steenberghe. Editing: Hannes Timmermans.

Cast: Koen De Bouw, Thure Riefenstein, Ella-June Henrard, Joren Seideslachts, Sven De Ridder, Stefan Percival, Bert Haelvoet, Rudy Mukendi, Gilles De Schryver, Robrecht Vanden Thoren, Vic de Wachter.

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