China Gate ★★★

In 1954 the French Foreign Legion is fighting Communist insurgents in Vietnam. A group of legionaries tramp through the jungle to blow up a large depot of arms hidden in the mountains at a place called China Gate. The group, including Gene Barry and Nat “King” Cole, is guided by Eurasian Angie Dickinson who is known, and welcomed, by all the soldiers on both sides.

Producer-director-writer Samuel Fuller, ardently anti-communist if this film is any guide, was making movies about warfare in Indochina well ahead of subsequent events in that part of the world. In view of these subsequent events, the movie is incredibly ironic.

Besides the central mission of the detonation squad, the film has several other story lines, including: acceptance of mixed race children, the monolithic influences of communism (Russian, Chinese, and Vietnamese) in Southeast Asia, and the psychological forces driving men to become soldiers, fighting and dying in a remote area of the world. A heavy load for any film, but Fuller tries.