A classic 1981 film starring Sylvester Stallone
. Stallone is Hatch, an American P.O.W.
in a German
internment camp. Captain Colby's (Michael Caine) scrub soccer team is noticed by a Major Von Steiner (Max Von Sydow
), a former footballer himself, who recognizes Colby, and suggests his inmates play the German squad in a friendly
. When the Nazi propaganda
machine gets wind of this inmate squad, they stage a grand spectacle: the German national team will play the inmates before a huge crowd in Paris
to display the superiority of the Aryan
race (much like Hitler
's attempt to do the same during the 1936 Olympics
, which was foiled by Jesse Owens
Caine starts recruiting players from the current inmates, while others begin arriving from other P.O.W. camps. Pelé is added to the squad after displaying his juggling skills. A diving header gets Mike Summerbee on the team. Meanwhile, Stallone fumbles about like an idiot, gets yelled at for his 'American' style of play (which involves hitting people and then taking the ball away), and storms off angrily. Stallone grumbles and mutters about hating soccer, but after learning that the inmates plan to escape, he begs Colby to reconsider him for the team, and is made trainer.
It is around this time that he accidentally discovers that he can keep goal rather well. Everyone fires shots at him, and he's saving them left and right. Pelé dribbles around him and easily scores, but gives him words of encouragement. Stallone grumbles and mutters about hating soccer.
Then he escapes! While Pelé plays his harmonica, Stallone escapes through the shower and ends up in Paris with "The Resistance". They arrange for the team to escape during halftime of the game. Stallone grumbles and mutters about hating soccer, but in the end agrees. He gets captured again and is brought back to the camp, this time to be held in solitary confinement. He sends Colby a coded message about the escape, so Colby breaks the current goalkeeper's arm and gets Hatch to replace him. Hatch responds to being named the starting keeper by asking where he's supposed to stand on a corner kick.
The first half of the game is an exercise in futility. The inmates are beaten (literally!) at every point in the game. Pelé gets gang tackled, Stallone kicked in the head. The corrupt referees will not stop the rough play, either because they don't want to or for fear of retribution from the Führer. The indomitable Germans take a 4-0 lead, with the only ray of hope coming as Bobby Moore scores for the inmates at the first half whistle to make the score 4-1.
The inmates, led by Hatch, prepare to escape, but suddenly have a change of heart. Despite the fact that Pelé can hardly walk, they all think they can win. If Hatch goes, they have to go, so they plead with him, and eventually, they go back on the field for the second half. Stallone meanwhile grumbles and mutters about hating soccer.
The second half is a whole new ballgame! The inmates are quicker to every ball, crisper with every pass, and more powerful with every shot! They pull to within one goal, and in fact score the tying goal, but it's disallowed by the corrupt German ref! Von Steiner is disgusted at this blatant desecration of the game he loves! Then, with four minutes left, Pelé, left for dead on the bench (oh, did I mention that the inmates played a man down for almost the entire second half), returns to the game! Broken ribs and all, he delivers a tremendous bicycle kick to tie the game at 4-4!
Surely that's it. These inmates, bruised and battered and totally outmatched, have managed a tie against the great German machine. Certainly that's to be the end. But no! Just before the final whistle blows, the inmates are called for a penalty inside the box! Penalty kick! Stallone has already been burned once on a penalty kick, and now he must save this final shot to preserve the tie...
Here comes the kick...
HE'S GOT IT!!!! SAVE STALLONE!!!!
The French people burst onto the field, singing Les Marseillais. They throw disguises over the inmates to hide them, and scurry out of the stadium. Stallone is free! Caine is free! Pelé is free! Everyone is free! It may have been a tie, but they've achieved the ultimate... Victory!