Hỏa Lò Prison started its use as a political prison used by French colonists in French Indochina before the North Vietnamese used it for jailing U.S. P.O.W.s during the Vietnam War. So while Cannon may have made at least five Vietnam P.O.W. movies that I can name off the top of my head, this is the first serious one they filmed.
Directed and written by Lionel Chetwynd, this film shows a decade in the life of LCDR Williamson (Michael Moriarty, one of my favorite actors) who watches men come, go and die inside the prison camp.
There’s Hubman (Paul Le Mat), a solder recalled to fight after serving in Korea who just wants to get home. Major Fischer (Jeffrey Jones in a rare heroic role) faces death with spiritual strength. Colonel Cathcart (Lawrence Pressman) tries to keep order in the face of chaos. But the only thing the men have is each other to lean on.
In no way is this an easy watch. It was made with the participation of real prisoners of war. While it failed at the box office, it remained popular amongst soldiers and those who have been in this situation.
You can watch this on Tubi.