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Combat - Vietnam

We Were Soldiers (2002)

Duration2h 23m
Source of storyA book “We Were Soldiers Once…And Young” by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway
DirectorRandall Wallace
Writers/ScriptRandall Wallace
StarringMel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear, Sam Elliott, Keri Russell, Barry Pepper, Clark Gregg,

Elevator Pitch: In 1965 during the early stages of the Vietnam War elements of the 7th Cavalry, now deployed using helicopters rather than horses are sent out to the Ia Drang valley where Vietnames forces are known to be concentrated. The group are landed and on capturing a Vietnames soldier find that their force of 400 men are facing about 4000 Vietnames. Although assisted by artillery strikes and airborn attacks the force is under constant fire for three days, suffering many casualties, many of whom are evacuated by their helicopter support. When it seems that they will be overwhelmed Lt. Col. Moore calls in “Broken Arrow” initiating air attacks on their own positions, depsite the possibility of deaths udue to friendly fire.

Content: No nudity and just a bit of implied sex between married people. Curiously, just a bit of Christian religious input. The Colonel trains his guys in America for the task they are to face in Vietnam, the wives get together for mutual support. There is a bit of a departure party. The soldiers come under attack almost as soon as they disembark from their helicopters and the action continues almost without respite for three days, every man, including the visiting journalist either firing his M16 or preparing to do so. A memorable scene of a devastating attack by a helicopter gunship takes place.

A View: It was moderately well liked by the critics; some did  not like Mel Gibson’s performance. Well, he did spend a lot of time staring steely eyed into the middle distance. Others thought that there was not much of  plot. Although based on real events we could not really get to know the soldiers well enough to care if they survived or not. But much of it was quite difficult to watch as both Americans and Vietnames are gunned down in mid sentence It is a dramatisation of a real event, so probably worth a watch for those interested in the Vietnam war.

Additiona Info: Moore, who had been very critical of other Vietnam war films,  thought it was about 60% right and Galloway, the journalist, thought about 80%.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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