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"Rules of Engagement" brings together Academy Award-winning director William Friedkin and a renowned cast and crew for a film that explores the ambiguities of battle, the split-second decisions that must be made in combat, the character of men and women who put themselves in harm's way for their country, and, above all, the bonds of friendship that tie one person's fate to another's.

"Rules of Engagement is a film that presents - - some serious issues - - life and death issues-- as they involve the military," Friedkin says. "I tried to make the film as authentic as possible by drawing on a dedicated group of present and former Marines."

A set of principles conceived by government bureaucrats, rules of engagement dictate when soldiers may use force against a perceived enemy and when they must hold back, no matter the risk. More often than not, the terror and confusion of actual battle thrusts soldiers into situations into which no rules apply. When the crucial moment arrives, a split-second decision must be made or comrades will die. Col. Childers is forced to make that life or death decision, only to find himself on trial later for fulfilling a mission his country ordered him to undertake.

Jackson describes Childers as "a career Marine who does what he feels is correct. Sometimes he bends the rules, but he wants to get results. He believes in his country, he believes in his Corps, and he's true to his fellow warriors at all costs."

"The character I play has been in the Marine Corps all his adult life," says Jones. "His father was a general in the Corps and so was his grandfather. He was in Vietnam in the '60s as a platoon leader, where he was shot up rather badly in a battle and had to come home. He became a military lawyer, and now toward the end of his career, he finds himself defending a good friend in a court-marital, which he's reluctant to do because he doesn't think of himself, rightfully, as a very good lawyer."

Friedkin elaborates, "This is a film about friendship and loyalty and the role of the modern military. In every military operation, there is a different set of rules of engagement that are drawn up for that particular operation. The question of this film is whether or not the rules were followed by the character played by Sam Jackson. "

In addition to Jones and Jackson, the distinguished cast includes Academy Award-winner Ben Kingsley, who stars as the U.S. Ambassador rescued from a mob by Col. Childers and his Marines; Anne Archer plays the Ambassador's wife and Australian actor Guy Pearce plays Maj. Mark Biggs, the smooth and formidable attorney prosecuting the case against Col. Childers.

Veteran character actor Philip Baker Hall plays H. Lawrence Hodges, a retired Marine general and Hays Hodges' father, and Bruce Greenwood is William Sokal, the National Security Adviser who is determined to contain the diplomatic crisis sparked by the deaths in Yemen. Blair Underwood appears as Capt. Lee, the second ranking officer under Col. Childers on the Yemeni mission and one of the witnesses at his trial. Capt. Tom Chandler, Hodges' young trial assistant, is played by Mark Feuerstein.

"This is a fictional story," producer Zanuck says, "but it's a story you can read about in the paper everyday. Our embassies are under siege. They've attracted protesters for years, and some have been bombed with great loss of life.

While there may seem to be bad guys in the film, there really aren't -- not even the National Security Adviser, played by Bruce Greenwood. His motives are not personal; he thinks he's doing what's best for the U.S. under tragic circumstances. He thinks what was done in Yemen was the act of one reckless, careless individual and wants the world to know so it doesn't hold the U.S. respo

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