We Were Soldiers [DVD] (2002)
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Mel Gibson stars as Colonel Hal Moore in this big budget war movie telling the true story of the Battle of Landing Zone X-Ray. The year is 1965 and Colonel Moore's men arrive in the highlands of South Vietnam ready to carry out a search-and-destroy mission. But thanks to a fault in military intelligence, they disembark near a large North Vietnamese army base and soon find themselves surrounded. What follows is a three-day battle resulting in massive casualties for both sides.
We Were Soldiers, based on the bestselling account of the battle of La Drang valley at the outset of the Vietnam War, is the latest Mel Gibson Braveheart-esque offering where plot and characterisation, rather than the men who lost their lives in the conflict, are the most serious casualties. The story follows Lt. Colonel Hal Moore (Gibson) and his platoon through a brief spell at boot camp and then into the battle itself.
In place of the moral ambiguity offered by, say, Platoon or Hamburger Hill, We Were Soldiers presents us with archetypes. Gibson's family man colonel is almost a parody of Patton, a man with so much heart you wonder how he manages to get up in the morning. He's a good Catholic, loves his men, and tells us that he's the first one on the battlefield and the last one off. And if that self-eulogising wasn't enough we have the slow-mo, heavily scored last-one-into-the-helicopter moment to prove it. In uncomfortably jingoistic contrast, the commander of the Viet Cong never leaves his cavernous headquarters as he sends his faceless foot soldiers to their death.
What saves the film are Ryan Hurst's performance as the stoic Sergeant Ernie Savage and Barry Pepper's non-combatant journalist who gets caught up in the action and has to fight to survive, both of whom inject some much-needed humanity into the action. Otherwise there is so little character development before the offensive that you find yourself squinting at the screen trying to work out who just bought the bullet when you really should be feeling every gunshot. Braveheart scribe Randall Wallace's direction is heavy handed and over sentimental--relentless violence masquerades as poignant remembrances of the futility of war--and the only time it ever approaches genuine emotion is the scene where the wives begin receiving telegrams detailing their husband's deaths. When measured against Hamburger Hill and Full Metal Jacket, We Were Soldiers doesn't even deserve to be in the same platoon. --Kristen Bowditch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Given that one of the advisors was the reporter we see in the film, its not surprising that the portrayal of this battle as frightening, disjointed at times and completely alien in many ways comes over so well.
I don't 'love' this film, I respect it. It reminds me of both the nobility and horror of war both of which retain their own authenticity in this portrayal. In that sense, it is a great film.
Directed by Randall Wallace, We Were Soldiers is based on the book "We Were Soldiers Once... And Young" by Moore and reporter Joseph L. Galloway. As always when a War film comes out you get the usual statements trundled out. Things such as "the most realistic yet" and "finally a film to tell it as it was," both of which were applied to Wallace's movie. If they happen to be true I have no idea, what with not being a combat veteran myself. What I do know is that personally, We Were Soldiers hits many many high points in its running time of 138 minutes.
After a crucial 30 minute build up of the characters, the film switches to the landing of the "boys" in Vietnam. From here the action never lets up, with Wallace and his team stunningly recreating the brutality and harshness of this bloody engagement. But crucially the action does not detract from its characters, having been engaged with them at the start of the film, the makers ensure that we stay with these men throughout the battle. Also of note is that the film shows the Vietnamese side of the battle, the fair treatment of both sides a most rewarding thing to see in a War film. There's brilliant cut aways to the Women and families at home, themselves fighting a battle to not lose their minds as their men fight in some faraway land.Read more ›
As a Christian I abhor war and all that it stands for. Yet having served in the military I appreciate all the values depicted here, not least the sacrifice and the bravery of all those who suffered and died on both sides.
This is a story that must be told. It must be told to the American and Vietnamese people whose soldiers fought on that November day in 1965 and the world must be made aware of the horrors that were faced on the battlefield in the Ia Drang Valley, known as 'The Valley of Death'.
Many might be unaware that this film is indeed based on a true story. A true story of a place in Vietnam where some 400 US soldiers found themselves isolated and surrounded by an opposing force of roughly 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers and the ensuing conflict.
This is not a film for the squeamish. War is horrific, barbaric and full of butchery and the scenes depicted in this film portray these properties in no mean measure.
The film proceeds at heart-racing pace from beginning to end. The acting is absolutely superb. This film will no doubt rank as a classic amongst it's genre. The battle-scenes are as realistic as they come.
This is not a film that glorifies war, or that seeks to do so. It clearly seeks to tell a story. A story of the men who were there and the horrors that they endured & suffered and the casualties that were sustained. To it's credit it also includes the stories of the families, wives and children left at home whilst their loved ones faced the ultimate sacrifice..
One of the characters in the film, notably the battle scenes, is depicted as a photographer.Read more ›
The 5.1 DTS on the USA version is on the same par as "Saving Private Ryan", and the good news is the US version is region free so will play on uk Blu-ray players. The Blu-ray has some good features, I have listed them below.
- Commentary by Director/Writer Randall Wallace
- Getting it Right Behind the scenes of we were soldiers
- 10 Deleted Scenes with Director's Commentary
- Theatrical Trailer in HD
At the bottom of the cover it says "Mel Gibson's best Performance, Since Braveheart" and i one hundred percent agree with that quote, if I was going in to war with a leader like "Lt. Col Hal" who was brilliantly played by Mel Gibson, I would fight with all my might, that is how good his performance was.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A brilliant movie for all those who like war stories the vc had the men the US had Mel Gibson, no contestPublished 22 days ago by yummi0001