Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle (2021)

Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle (2021)

An epic portrait of delusional patriotism that misses the chance to be about more



Belgium, Cambodia
Adventure, Drama, History, War
Angeli Bayani, Chiba Tetsuya, Issey Ogata
167 min


When you're such a colonizer that even your own country thinks you're just a weirdo.

What it's about

The true story of Japanese soldier Hiroo Onoda, who refused to surrender with Japan in the Philippines at the end of World War II, and continued terrorizing Filipino citizens until the 1970s.

The take

It's an incredible story, but it's one that only really deserves to be told a certain way, which director Arthur Harari gets right. Onoda's one-man crusade to continue World War II is nothing short of delusional, and Harari spends most of the film following the soldier as his companions die one by one, worsening his delusions even further. Unfortunately, even with how impressively strange this story is, 10,000 Nights in the Jungle still misses the opportunity to look through the lens of Onoda's victims. He is, after all, a literal embodiment of colonization's lingering effects, so it's sad that the Philippines here is just window dressing more than anything.

What stands out

That said, this really is a stunning character study that gets around its somewhat bland visual design through excellent performances. As the younger and older Onoda, respectively, Yuya Endo and Kanji Tsuda understand exactly what's required of them and make sure to portray the soldier as someone who's convinced himself that he's doing a great service—when he's really just scared and confused underneath. And the other soldiers alongside Endo and Tsuda are great counterpoints to Onoda; they're the ones you ultimately feel more sympathy for, as they try to see things more rationally before getting picked off one by one.


Add a comment




The Parades (2024)

Michihito Fujii reimagines a peaceful, communal afterlife in this slice-of-life supernatural drama


Departures (Okuribito) (2008)

An elegant and sentimental film about a reluctant cellist becoming a mortician.


A City of Sadness (1989)

With A City of Sadness, Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien paints a picture of a society on the brink


The Outfit (2022)

Surprising till the very end, The Outfit is a well-made and satisfying mob mystery


Hard Days (2023)

A detective has a series of terrible, horrible days in this decent Japanese thriller remake


Small, Slow But Steady (2022)

A quiet, inspiring story about connection and perseverance during the COVID-19 pandemic


Topsy-Turvy (1999)

A meticulous and whimsical account of the making of the influential comic opera The Mikado


Hyenas (1992)

A striking Senegalese film adapted from a Swiss-German tragicomedy, Hyenas is a haunting journey into the depths of human greed and moral decay


Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)

A one-of-a-kind biopic that captures a truly disturbed mindset with impeccable filmmaking


Antwone Fisher (2003)

An old-fashioned character study that boasts the talents of star Derek Luke


Curated by humans, not algorithms.

agmtw logo

© 2024 agoodmovietowatch, all rights reserved.