The story of the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War and the soldiers on both sides that fought it, while their wives wait nervously and anxiously at home for the good news or the bad news.
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A telling of the 1st Battalion, 7 Cavalry Regiment, 1st Calvary Division's battle against overwhelming odds in the La Drang valley of Vietnam in 1965. Seen through the eyes of the battalion's commander, Lt. Col. Hal Moore (played by Mel Gibson), we see him take command of the battalion and its preparations to go into Vietnam. We also see how the French had, years earlier, been defeated in the same area. The battle was to be the first major engagement between US and NVA forces in Vietnam and showed the use of helicopters as mobility providers and assault support aircraft. Written by
Mel Gibson calls his character's relationship with Basil Plumley "good cop, bad cop." See more »
In the final battle scene, several UH1 ("Huey") helicopters are shown firing Gatling guns and rockets into the battle. While many Hueys were unofficially modified by the ground crews to carry weaponry early in the Viet Nam conflict, the officially armed Huey, the UH1-C, actually wasn't introduced until mid-1966, several months after the battle at Ia Drang. Earlier Huey versions, which often did have door gunners, lacked the power and other modifications necessary to carry the types of weaponry shown in the movie. So, it is very unlikely that any Hueys involved in this battle would have had heavy guns or rockets. See more »
These are the true events of November, 1965, the Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam, a place our country does not remember, in a war it does not understand. This story's a testament to the young Americans who died in the valley of death, and a tribute to the young men of the People's Army of Vietnam who died by our hand in that place. To tell this story, I must start at the beginning. But where does it begin? Maybe in June of 1954 when French Group Mobile 100 moved ...
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`Saving Private Ryan' redefined the war genre and opened the floodgates to a new generation of war movies. It pushed the boundaries of acceptability by frankly showing war in all its grisly glory. As such it gave us a better understanding of how terrible and frightening war is. `Black Hawk Down' took the graphic violence to a new level, with an intensity that matched the beach landing of SPR, but of a duration that was almost unbearable.
`We Were Soldiers' is the latest big budget war offering from Hollywood. In many ways, I consider this to be the most complete of the three. Writer/Director Randall Wallace (who wrote "Braveheart", "Pearl Harbor" and the screenplay for this film), takes the understanding of war to the next level, by offering more than one perspective to the events. Of the three films, this film has the best workup, the best character development, and the most nuanced look at the battle. He brings all the sustained intensity of BHD in the action sequences, but introduces the NVA perspective, the wives' perspective and a far more charismatic and heroic central figure in Lt. Col. Hal Moore.
Based on real events, this film shows war as being horrendous and heartless to both sides. It expands outside the combat zone to visit the ramifications on the families as well. The scenes with the wives getting the telegrams are poignant reminders of how war reaches beyond the battlefield. Wallace's treatment grabs us on an emotional level and shocks the senses. Unlike BHD, which presented the characters in a very anonymous way, we come to know these characters and their families and identify with them.
Of course, the film lacks the hard edge that would make it starkly believable. It is after all a Hollywood production and not a documentary. However, Wallace pours enough realism into the depictions to assure that this doesn't turn into another sappy melodrama like `Pearl Harbor', which was really nothing more than a romance with a long battle scene in the middle. Wallace finds the optimal balance between engaging storytelling and the brutality of combat.
The acting is excellent. Mel Gibson offers the right combination of hard nosed officer and father figure (both to his children and his men). Gibson is steadfast and courageous without being harsh. His portrayal of Moore is so well played, so charismatic and heroic, that it is impossible to believe that such a person could actually exist.
Sam Elliot follows an outstanding performance in `The Contender' with this gem as Sergeant Major Plumley, the tough as nails warhorse who serves as Moore's non commissioned adjutant. Elliot plays the intransigent career soldier to the hilt, where nothing including life itself is more important than honor and discipline. Barry Pepper also turns in a fine performance as Joe Galloway, the photo journalist who hops on a helicopter to take pictures in the center of the battle and finds himself with a rifle in his hands fighting for his life.
This is among the best war films in recent memory and probably the best film on the Vietnam War film since `Full Metal Jacket'. I rated it a 10/10. This film is not for everyone. It contains graphic violence and disturbingly realistic battle scenes. It is a gripping and distressing film that should be required viewing for statesmen and generals alike.
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