Vietnam, 1967, and the Australian S.A.S. are sent to assist the American forces. For four friends in the unit, unsure why they are in a war they did not start, their defence is their humour, backed up by bawdy pranks, beer, fights and scorpion racing. But when bullets start to come out of the jungle and the combat patrols become paralysingly real, then the laughter stops and the reality hits them with a shocking impact. Survival becomes the main objective. The film presents the hilarity and horror of the soldiers' situation while aiming barbed sentiments at the politicians who sent them there and then forgot about them, and for this reason was fairly controversial in Australia when it was released.
Set during the Vietnam War, The Odd Angry Shot depicts life in Australia as it was before, during and following the war. Times and lifestyles were much simpler and societal roles were more defined. After his 21st birthday, Bill (John Jarratt) goes to fight in Vietnam, as part of the Australian forces. He's in the Special Air Services, elite professional soldiers who look down on the 'nashos', the conscripted troops. Bill's best mate is the jovial and older Harry (Graham Kennedy), a likeable cynic. The rest include Rogers (Bryan Brown), Dawson (Graeme Blundell), Scott (Ian Gilmour) and later, Bung (John Hargreaves)- all young men who believe they're fighting for their country. Their daily life in camp consists of rain, beer, cards and bad food, punctuated by the sporadic excitement and terror of jungle patrols. Their numbers dwindle as their tour progresses, in a series of realistically portrayed skirmishes with the enemy. As the body count rises, Bill counts the days til he can go home, but what awaits?