Victory (1981) - Escape to Victory

Why do so many like the Stallone movie ‘Victory’ (1981) ?



It’s sad that many think Victory is the iconic American soccer movie, because this movie is pretty ordinary and has aged poorly. Victory is a World War Two POW movie that pays heavy homage to The Great Escape; the POWs escape while playing against the Nazis.

Directed by the legendary John Huston, and starring Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone, the film had a $10M budget. It’s very slow and the soccer is not very engaging, although maybe that’s because I am not familiar with the many International soccer stars who are in the movie, other than Pelé.

Michael Caine and Max von Snydow put in good performances as men who miss soccer so much they take personal risks in order to put on a competitive match between the German national team and the Allied prisoners.

Stallone, on the other hand, proves he cannot act when required to say more than 4 words at a time, and his hyperactive character is annoying at best. Why he did this movie between Rocky 2 and 3 is a puzzle.

The story is creative in how the prisoners make their escape, but other than that it is not really worth the time. Pelé’s character does two bicycle kicks, some juggling and a few moves. The movie may have been inspired by the “Death Match” game between Russians and Nazis during World War II.

Update Aug-6-2017: Harry Hiller’s 2000 book, “Pelé: His Life and Times” describes the 5-week film shoot in Budapest. Players from Ipswitch Town were recruited along with Pelé, Ossie Ardiles, Bobby Moore, and Mike Summerbee. The players had a great time, and were on-call and ready to play everyday. The book reports that Michael Caine could not run 20 yards, and Stallone knew nothing about soccer. Just like what you see in the film.

4 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 4