BEAST OF BATAAN















            This is a true story. 


            The Philippines, 1945.  The end of a long, hard-fought war.  JOHN SKEEN, like every other soldier, yearns to return home to his wife and children.  But the U.S. Army has other plans -- Skeen has been ordered to head the defense team for the war crimes trial of Japanese GENERAL MASAHARU HOMMA, the notorious ‘Beast of Bataan.’ 


            Skeen is convinced the Army has made a mistake.  He’s simply not qualified -- though he passed the bar, he’s never seen the inside of a court room.  How could they expect him to conduct a trial of such magnitude, with the entire world watching? 


            But what John Skeen and his co-counsels -- FURNESS, a Harvard-educated real estate attorney, PELZ, a street-smart ladies’ man, and CODER, an embittered combat veteran -- will soon discover is that the Army hand-picked them precisely for their lack of experience.  GENERAL MACARTHUR wants a swift trial and a guilty verdict, no questions asked.  All of the army's might and prosecutorial experience are ready to smash the four young and bewildered American officers.  It’s "ROCKY" in the court room.   


            Out of a soldier’s duty, the defense team begins the task of preparing for trial.  During visits to Bilibid Prison, Skeen realizes that General Homma is not the cruel and defiant ‘butcher’ as portrayed in the media -- instead he finds a thoughtful and educated man who speaks fluent English and proudly guards his own perspective on the ill-fated Bataan Death March.  Skeen realizes that in order to defend his client he must learn to understand his enemy.  But in so doing, he must also oppose his superiors and ignore the judgment of his peers.


            BEAST OF BATAAN is a story about the young officers who transformed a kangaroo trial with its pre-ordained verdict into a hard-fought quest for justice.  It's also a quintessentially American story about the little guy who bucks the system, who battles for the truth against a system that doesn't want to hear the truth.  At trial's end, though some may question whether justice has prevailed, there can be no doubt that a major battle has been fought.  And though it wasn't fought with mortars and howitzers, it was a battle all the same fought with valor and courage and the ammunition of American ideals. 


            In the end, two men who once called each other 'enemy' will forever remember each other as 'friend.'