Z Special Force – also known as the Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD) – was a secret Australian Special Forces reconnaissance and sabotage unit during World War II. It was made up of volunteers from all branches of the Allied Forces and was commanded directly by General Douglas Macarthur.
The Force carried out 284 wartime missions in the Pacific. The most publicised of these were the successful canoe raid on Singapore Harbour from the Krait and the subsequent Rimau raid in which all 23 participants were either killed in action or executed.
The events depicted in the film are an honest and unflinching account of the type of operation carried out by the unit during World Warr II with the force deployed to recover the passengers of a downed Allied plane – including the Minister of War – in the Japanese occupied Dutch East Indies with the help of an underground Chinese resistance movement.
Captain Paul Kelly (Mel Gibson) leads a multinational group of derring-doers on the secret mission, and the screen is soon awash with corpses and tomato sauce.
Despite a cast including Gibson and Sam Neill, who both went on to fame and fortune in Hollywood, the acting is pretty standard average Aussie fare, and the film is a dull, cliche-ridden affair.
The movie – filmed in Taiwan and originally titled Zedmen – performed badly at the box office in Australia.
After a poor run in cinemas in Melbourne in June 1982, it wasn’t released anywhere else in Australia. It found more success as a video release on Roadshow Home Video.
Captain Paul Kelly
Lieutenant Jan Veitch
John Phillip Law
Sergeant Danny Costello
Able Seaman ‘Sparrer’ Bird
Sub Lt. Ted ‘Kingo’ King