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Combat - Vietnam

Full Metal Jacket (1987)


Duration 1h 56m Rating (UK) 15
Source of story A novel “The Short Timers” by Gustav Hasford
Director Stanley Kubrick
Writers/Script Stanley Kubrick, Michael Herr, Gustav Hasford
Starring Matthew Modine, Adan Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lee Ermey, Papillon Soo, Ngoc Le, Arliss Howard

Elevator Pitch: A bunch of young men are put through grindingly unpleasant eight week marine training in preparation for their deployment to Vietnam, a process not without casualties. There-after we follow the progress of “Joker” who has become a reporter for Stars and Stripes, but who, with an army  photographer, joins a platoon of marines who  get lost in the ruins of a city during the Tet offensive.

Content: The first half of the film is taken up with the training of the platoon under the Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, possibly the ultimate boot camp content, but actually a year later than Clint Eastwood’s similar role.  Then Joker joins other writers in a camp in Vietnam, where they have to defend the boundary against the VC and after that he goes to war with a platoon eventually commanded by “Cowboy” one of his fellow recruits. There is a lot of gunfire and the famous sniper scene.

A View:  You can’t watch this film today without being aware of the background, firstly Stanley Kubrick’s legendary attention to detail and secondly the use of bits of the UK to represent Vietnam. But putting that aside it is a mesmerising watch although strangely disconnected, the comradeship generated during training virtually unused in the fighting, but which must have been part of the novel. It was quite liked by the critics and well liked by the general public, and breathtaking in a number of ways, so well worth the cost of a download.

Additional Info: The ruins of Hue were represented by the abandoned Beckton Gasworks, with added palm trees, said to have been  imported from Spain at the cost of £1000 per tree.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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  1. Pingback: Heartbreak Ridge (1986) | A MOTION PICTURE LIST - October 20, 2022

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