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  1. #1

    Vietnam War Movies!

    Good Morning Vietnam!

    That's actually the first movie I watched from this era with plenty of the truly classic coming up on the way.

    Robin Williams puts on one of his best performances and this movie always makes me laugh. You have to love the future President Richard Nixon describing his balls. "They are soft, and lack proper form..." I'd forgotten Forrest Whitaker was in that film. He was great as a comedic character as I'm used to seeing him potray very serious types (The Shield, and he was one of the few very serious characters in Fast Times at Ridgemont High).

    Good Morning Vietnam is one of the very few movies - or the only one - that pulls any comedy out of the Vietnam War. The movie does have some serious elements to it about the terrorism of the Viet Cong and how the impoverished Vietnamese people live and it shows instead of tells why they would be given hope by communism. Also the propensity of American soldiers to chase skirts in whatever foreign country they are stationed in is a main plot point of the movie. During World War II, the French and Dutch jumped all over American GIs as they felt we were liberating them from Hitler's Nazis. But the Vietnamese girls were far more traditional and not ready to mix with US soldiers in many cases. (It was the offspring of French soldiers who were outcasts that made up the majority of the prostitutes delivering lines like "Me so horny. Me love you long time." (FMJ will be reviewed next). But part of the horrors of war included Kwon's betrayal of Adrian when the GI Bar was bombed, killing American soldiers as well as civilian customers. The pain and "why" Kwon felt about his V-C cause was expressed as well. It wasn't all jokes and gags about $&##* weather and @%#*!& weather and the Army's fashion designs.
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  2. #2
    Speaking of comedy, the drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket is hilarious if you're watching him on TV and he's not really in the room with you making you do push-ups.

    However, the movie is more a drama than a war flick. Bootcamp is the best part of the movie. I think it pales in comparison to Platoon which is a far better movie with more action.

    The acting performances of the drill instructor and "Private Pile" were downright awesome though. But in the other movie, Willem DaFoe and Tom Berenger kicked some butt, and Charlie Sheen did pretty well for himself, too.

    Like I said, the war story in Platoon was far better. What do you think?
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  3. #3
    Platoon may be a better story, but Full Metal Jacket is the one that sticks in your head. How many phrases are still used today in modern culture from that movie? Like "What is your major malfunction!" or "Me so horny, me love you long time!" I know I've used that first phrase at work.

  4. #4
    I find them to be very different films, even though they cover the same subject matter. I expect Platoon is a better representation of what combat was like, but the images from Jacket stayed with me a lot longer. I put apocalypse Now above either of them, but I consider that to be a Vietnam movie only by Proxy. It owes as much to Campbell as to Coppola.
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  5. #5
    I just watched Casaulties of War with Michael J. Fox and Sean Penn.

    Geeze this is a good movie! It kept me at complete attention for the whole 2 hours - especially because I'd never seen it before.

    A squad under the command of Sean Penn kidnaps a young Vietnamese girl to repeatedly train-rape while they're out in the jungle. Michael J. Fox is a young Private who objects to this, and tries to help her. It gets worse as she becomes a threat to give away the squad's position to the V-C and they stab her and then shoot her, as she's still alive and attempting to make a desperate escape. Fox backs down at the moment of truth, deciding not to shoot his own squad-mates in the back in a combat zone. But he later brings charges that sentence the men from positions of 10 years to life in military prison. The investigators recover the girl's body.

    Worse: this is a true story. And things happened exactly as depicted in the movie.

    On the flip side, there are some great combat scenes and there's a lot of action so the movie doesn't slow down at all. The court-martial is at the end of the film of course, but it's not a court-TV movie by a long shot. A little bit of the questioning is shown, as well as the verdicts. The majority of the movie takes place in the field and back at the platoon where the other guys try to kill Erikson (Fox) to keep him from talking. It's sad because he has to go higher than his captain to win justice for the girl because no one wants to hear about it.

    It's very relevant because the same thing just happened over in Iraq.
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  6. #6
    Hamburger Hill doesn't earn the most points in my book. It is the most violent and action-packed of the Vietnam war flicks that I have seen thus far, and I'll give kudos for the 2 hot naked Vietnamese girls in the hot tub scene. It actually does show the enemy a bit, in a forest-through-the-trees type of way, though there are no enemy characters developed unless if you count that guy on the automatic machine gun cannon that it took nearly 30 days to kill.

    An interesting aspect of the film was that it addressed the racial problems of blacks serving with whites, which really was new in the history of our armed forces. Racism is a problem(?) that is just not gone away. There are definitely two different cultures (or more) between blacks and whites, and a perception that you can't like both of them (as repeated arguments about the merits between country-western and Motown hits spurred all kinds of debate).

    The movie also dealt with the soldiers' perceptions of the peace demonstrators back home and how their girlfriends were even being turned against them because they were "baby killers," and everything else that was said about them fighting an unjust war. It's really disheartening to see the soldiers' spirits hammered down under such dire conditions as they were - even though I agree with "the wrong war at the wrong time" analysis of the so-called hippies. The war was manufactured to sell Bell helicopters and F-4 Phantoms amongst other things. The only thing worse than the conduct of many of our troops was the conduct of our politicians during that era. Dang does history repeat itself!

    Well, you can't argue that anyone deserved to die on that hill. I think the American troops should have been sent home (as they eventually were and Vietnam was unified as a communist country). Meanwhile, it was really up to the Vietnamese people to determine the future of their own country and not our business to interfere for dubious causes just to churn profits for our military industrial complex.

    Today we are getting back to normal relations with Vietnam, regardless of their economic system, and we found new places to sell Humvees and Abrahms, etc.

    Mel Gibson's "We Were Soldiers" already has it's own thread, so I'll be bumping that up in a short while here. This thread may go on to discuss whatever you might have to say about the movies above, and I'm thinking about considering putting the Rambo movies in with these here, as the first two do tend to relate. "Born on the 4th of July" (Tom Cruise) and "Heaven and Earth (Tommy Lee Jones) will round out what I had planned for Vietnam. I don't have a lot of interest in "Appocalypse Now," nor do I think I've seen the whole thing. I've heard it is more a drama than a war movie, and that makes me even less interested.
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  7. #7
    Let's not forget Forrest Gump, where they had "big ol' fat rain" in Vietnam. "We was always lookin' for this guy named Charlie".
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  8. #8
    flight of the intruder was an aviators look at vietnam (and not that good from what i remember). jacob's ladder starts in vietnam.

    if you're gonna consider rambo what about missing in action starring everyone's favorite tough guy chuck norris? first blood really didn't deal with vietnam much, more the stress vets went through back in the states. first blood II: rambo dealt with his liberation of pow's.

  9. #9
    The stress felt back home, as well as the anti-war protests were consequential to the whole Vietnam experience. However, there are several Rambo fan threads I need to review before I start posting about Sly Stallone in this one.

    But in the meantime, with that being said, Tom Cruise actually acted (perhaps his best performance) as Ron Kovick in "Born on the 4th of July." There is some good combat sequences in there, as well as possibly more graphic horror than in Hamburger Hill or We Were Soldiers. The war debate is well represented for both sides in the movie and it's an excellent piece of Oliver Stone's work.
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  10. #10
    Doesn't a movie that makes you cry rank higher than all others, because the writer, director, actors, have all done their job to affect you emotionally?

    Then Oliver Stone's Heaven and Earth is by far the masterpiece on Vietnam!

    The movie follows the true-life story of a young girl who eventually marries an American soldier and emigrates to the United States (San Diego of all coincidences). She watched her village in rural Vietnam die. Two of her brothers were recruited into the Viet Cong. She was captured by the South Vietnamese Army and tortured. She was raped by the V-C. She lived on the streets or Saigon while pregnant. She sold her body. And she escaped with her soldier-husband (Tommy Lee Jones) as South Vietnam fell to the Communists. She thrived in America, and raised 3 sons, even while she was nearly being abused by her husband, who eventually took his own life. Finally, 13 years after she left the madness in one country behind her for a different kind of madness in another country, she returns to Vietnam to see her family and little village she left behind, and introduce her oldest son to his father. She takes all of her children to her village to meet their grandmother and uncle, but she is viewed with distaste as an American outsider. Her brother saw her as sleeping with his enemy. She said she was trapped between two nations, the living and the dead, and heaven and earth.

    Again, it's a true story, put to the darn best soundtrack I've heard in almost any movie, with beautiful photography, and the best representation of the Vietnam War from both enemies' points of view.

    There was some combat scenes, if you could call it that (more or less US bombing sorties and arrests of V-C sympathizers) but it looked at how the Vietnamese people resisted constant invaders from the Japanese, the Chinese, the French, and finally the Americans.

    It is such a powerful movie that it blows anything else about Vietnam away. If you haven't seen this one, YOU MUST!
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