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4.0 out of 5 stars44
4.0 out of 5 stars
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on 13 August 2001
Following the Vietnam tour of a Squadron of the Australian SAS in 1967, this is a truly well plotted and paced film. The filmmakers enlisted the aid of the real Australian SAS in the making of the feature and their professionalism shines through, particularly in the action sequences. From the leaving of their native land in a spirit of optimistic naivete, through the disillusionment of vicious jungle warfare against a professional and dangerous enemy, the film concentrates on the human side of the young soldiers' experiences. This is, in my opinion, one of the very best films ever made on the subject of the Vietnam War. Of particular note is the use of low camera angles and lack of gratuitous violence to convey the claustrophobic and mentally challenging nature of fighting a foe who only appears briefly and at long intervals. Humour is not left out of the film, either. Many of the 'off duty' moments are shot through with the crazy humour of men in a desperate situation. With small touches of 'extra-realism', such as the British Squadron Sergeant Major ( many British soldiers emigrated to serve in the Australian Army in the 1950s and '60s)this is a film that shows the futility of soldiers fighting an unpopular war, whose priorities quickly change to simple survival. Top Film!!
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on 22 February 2010
This probably one of the best war films ever made, not just one of the best about Vietnam.

As a Vietnam film, it is unusual on two counts. The most obvious is that it is about Australian soldiers, rather than their more numerous US counterparts. It comes as a surprise to many outside Australia and New Zealand to discover that those countries had forces committed. The other is that the film concerns young regular soldiers of the Australian SAS, rather than the conscripts more usually associated with that war (incidentally, Australia also sent conscripts - known as "nashoos", for National Service - to Vietnam).

Made with the assistance of the Australian Army, and filmed at their jungle warfare centre, the film achieves an authentic tone through attention to the minor details of service life on operations. The strength of the film lies in its emphasis on the personal. There are few histronics and no "Green Berets"-style set pieces. Instead, the growing strain of the tour is reflected in the behaviour of the patrol who are the focus of the film. The cast, at the time mostly unknown except for Graham Kennedy, deliver tremendous performances.

Inevitably, as the film is Australian, there are some classic one-liners (which I won't quote) and moments of comedy. The beer-call with US Special Forces, and the homemade present for the Padre are two that stand out. For a British viewer, at least of a certain age, it can be disconcerting to see "British" kit - Landrovers, SLRs, '58 pattern webbing - in a Vietnam setting (in the early '80s when I first saw the film, this had the effect of making it seem both incongruous and more immediate).

The film is a thoughtful exploration of the experience of active service, and a tribute to those who have undergone combat. It does not have start-of-the-art CGI effects, but it doesn't need them, because the focus is on the soldiers. It is both a very Australian film and one containing universal relevance.

Not to be missed by anyone with a serious interest either in Vietnam or war films.

p.s. One complaint. Why, oh why, have the distributors of the DVD gone for a US war-movie montage cover instead of the classic artwork from the original movie poster, repeated on the VHS release? A major disappointment.
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on 12 March 2000
Having been a professional soldier myself, and having a father who served a total of 24 years Army service, including 6 years in the Australian Army, I am very pleased to have rediscovered this excellent film.
The whole film is thoroughly authentic down to the weapons, the camouflage, the briefings and the manner in which the soldiers move and communicate in the jungle, close on the enemy and break contact. This, in my view, makes it far superior to American War Films where they portray themselves as unprofessional in the field, ie radios blasting whilst on patrol, soldiers shouting to each other etc etc.
The acting too is excellent with a script which portrays soldiering as it really is - being professional when required but keeping sane by being "insane".
Although this film is not a Hollywood Blockbuster, it is a credit to the film makers and a must for anyone who wants to see how it really was.
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on 9 July 2009
This is a great film from the Australian Cinema of the late 1970's. It will come as a shock to most that the Australian's were involved in the Vietnam conflict, even more of a shock that the Australian SAS were deployed as well.
This film looks at the effect the war has on a callsign of 4 soldiers. It reflects jungle fighting as it really is - hours and hours of patrolling, struggling through humid terrain carrying heavy loads, for a contact that lasts only minutes. The stress and strain shows on the characters. Starring a then unknown Bryan Brown.
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on 30 August 2010
As an Australian Vietnam Veteran I cringe every time I see this movie. I served in Vietnam as an infantry soldier (1969 - 1970) so I have a fair idea how the Australian Army operated there.

The parts of the movie that are supposed to depict life in Nui Dat (the Australian base) that I really cringe at. There is no way Australian soldiers carried on as depicted in this movie. It is well wide of the mark. We had other tasks to perform during the day in and around the base when not out on operations so had no time to hit the booze. We also had little contact with Americans. Boozers did not open till 1600 hrs. Then we enjoyed a beer and enjoy we did.

If you read the book "The Odd Angry Shot" you will quickly realise that it is a comedy - like this movie albeit a black one. The movie is supposed to depict SAS operations. If you read a history of the Australian SAS (I recommend David Horner's "SAS Phantoms of War") you will see that the SAS main task in Vietnam was reconnaissance. The SAS in Vietnam tried to avoid contact with the enemy because they operated in teams of up to 5 men. After the SAS patrols returned and were debriefed, if they discovered anything of interest, the infantry battalions, or parts thereof, went out to investigate further.

How anyone can say that this movie is an accurate depiction of Vietnam without having being there is beyond me. It's not the life I experienced in my tour and am glad it wasn't.

I only reason I give it two stars is that it was made in Australia. As a Vietnam war movie it deserves one.

Watch this movie for it's comic value only and forget the rest.
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The ad line for The Odd Angry Shot promised `Cry a little, laugh a lot,' and that pretty much sums up the problem with the film. One of Australia's few efforts to portray their part in the Vietnam war, it plays more like a version of The Virgin Soldiers than Platoon, with much good-natured uttering of obscenities amid the tinnies and banter. It's not bad, has a cast filled with stalwarts of 70s and 80s Oz cinema (Graham Kennedy, John Hargreaves, John Jarret, Bryan Brown) and has its moments (most notably presenting the padre with a home made wanking machine), but it feels too soft and good natured to leave much impact. The final scenes do work surprisingly well, but odds are this one won't linger long in the memory.

Nothing to report on the extras front on the UK DVD, but the Australian Region 4 PAL release also includes an audio commentary by Sue Milliken, Tom Jeffrey and Graeme Blundell. trailer and stills gallery and production notes.
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on 18 November 2010
I searched on and off for ages for this, as an expat it was hard to get. I saw it many, many times as a kid and I used to have a copy of the book. Ex soldiers my Dad knew (his RSM was a veteran) remarked on it's authenticity and accuracy and if one reads David Hackworth's views of the Australian jungle fighters, you can see their fighting methods and bushcraft shown in this film. The film portrays a different approach to waging this war on a small unit level, as was generally adopted by the Australians, instead of the large unit actions which led to large budget films such as "We Were Soldiers" & the famous "Platoon" which dipict the US approach.

The scenes dealing with the soldier's open use of prostitutes in their leave was controversial for a more conservative Australia in the late 70s (my mother was not ammused when she found out I saw such a film) but by today's standards the scenes are mild. It adds to the realism as this is a fact of life for men in such a situation.

The actors are all well cast, the young Bryan Brown plays a solid role (better than "Cocktail" for sure) and Graham Kennedy as a team leader is spot on - his accent is of the period. Along with the odd Brit and a well known but much younger Australian Soap Opera actor, they make for a cast who do the best for the film.

To top it off the dialogue is excellent and often very funny as they pass the time mocking each other and their situtation and the fight scenes are well crafted and intense.

In my view it's a classic of Australian film making and rare gem of a war film.
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on 20 February 2009
My dad taped this off bbc2 about 20 years ago and i must have watched it until the tape snapped. Not as romanticised as "platoon" or as harrowing as "full metal jacket" but just a great war movie. Typically Australian humour mixed with a bitter sweet social commentary. Stick it next to "where eagles dare" in your dvd collection. Top turns from Bryan Brown and a young John Jarratt (Wolf Creek).
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on 31 January 2008
Such a shame this film is not available in DVD format. I haven't seen a film so exact to context for a long time. It captures the reality of the infantry man's war from total boredom to adrenyline packed action so well. Not only that, but the posture, fieldcraft and communications are authentic - not to mention the uniforms, armoury and sound track of weoponology - the unmistakable sound of the SLR, AR16 and AK 47 excites vivid memories! The last action sequence of White Phosphorous grenade knocking out the VC strongpoint, however unpalatable demonstrates the brutality and savageness of war to the 'civvy' and the sad matter of fact to the ex-serviceman. It commemorates the 'PBI' of all nations so well.
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on 11 April 2015
Interesting as set piece demonstrating that it wasn't just America in Vietnam. Interesting to see all the British kit (which the Aussies used) in that setting and era. Interesting that one of the lead actors was essential Australia's version of, say, Terry Wogan (he was a TV game show and talk show host), but does probably the best acting in the film. Also interesting to see a young Bryan Brown, albeit not really doing much. Some minor commentary on how the veterans were received at home, but played down in true Aussie style.

At that point the interest ends. The action scenes are lousy and smack of a very low budget. Considering they are meant to be the Australian SAS, they are pretty inept (I think todays audiences are much more savvy on military matters, which does show you how much film production has improved) and the scenes play out badly - particularly the bridge scene, at which point it looks like everyone wants to go home (from the set, not the jungle). Note that there is no attempt to hide the Australian houses in the background.

Doesn't really do any justice to the excellent record set by the Australian military and especially the SAS (who are professional soldiers after all) - they come across like a bunch of whinging conscripts.

Thus, I can see why some (Vietnam veteran?) reviewers have said it is realistic and some not.
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