It may be true that war is hell but it has provided the subject matter for some of cinema's most divine works. From the epic majesty of David Lean's Bridge Over the River Kwai to the satirical brilliance of Stanley Kubrick's Dr Strangelove to the all-out insanity of Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, the space between death and glory has found a hallowed home on the big screen. One of the most recent notable additions to the genre is Jarhead (HBO, today at 9pm), an offbeat movie set during the first Gulf war. Based on a US Marine's war memoir and directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty), Jarhead follows raw recruit Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal; top left) as he progresses from boot camp to sniper training at Camp Pendleton, in California, to active service in Operation Desert Storm. Along the way he discovers that boredom, isolation and his comrades pose far greater dangers than the Iraqi Republican Guard. If you think that sounds a lot like the plot of Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, you're not far wrong, as Jarhead frequently recalls the late director's Vietnam war tour de force. But while it pales in comparison with such an esteemed rival (for example, as good as Jamie Foxx is here as the bellowing Staff Sergeant Sykes, he's no R. Lee Ermey), there is much to enjoy. The blazing vacuum of the desert provides a surreal backdrop against which the characters begin to unravel as the tedium of waiting to fight takes hold. The intrusion of the media also comes under satirical scrutiny while the film's occasionally disjointed set pieces are just about held together by Gyllenhaal. Incidentally, Jarhead rates an impressive fifth on the Family Media Guide's all-time list of movies that feature the use of the word 'f**k', with a potty-mouthed tally of 335. War, it seems, is not only hell, but profane. If all that sounds a little too real, grisly horror sequel Saw II (bottom left) premieres over on Star Movies at the same time. This instalment of the blood-drenched franchise sees warped mastermind Jigsaw testing another group of strangers' will to live. This time round, eight seemingly random people must find their way out of a booby-trapped bunker before a deadly nerve gas does its worst. Racing against the clock to rescue Jigsaw's unfortunate playthings is Detective Eric Matthews (former New Kid on the Block Donnie Wahlberg), whose quest is made all the more frantic by the revelation that his son is among the victims. As is the rule of the genre, Saw II is not on a par with its predecessor, but it's still fiendish fun for fright fans.