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Customer Review

198 of 214 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the most realistic modern battle scenes on film, June 22, 2002
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This review is from: We Were Soldiers (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
This is war and it truly is hell. Outnumbered on the field and backed by the politically driven Defense Department of the time, one battalion finds itself outnumbered and fighting for its life in the jungles of Vietnam.

A recent reviewer here mistook what this movie was about. It is NOT about America's war in Vietnam and all the ideology behind it. Its about a battle that occurred in the early years of that war between a new type of specialized fighting unit and a very determined enemy. America wanted to engage the enemy for the first time and this is the battle. The only politics involved here is the decision not to declare a National Emergency thus allowing the Army's most experienced soldiers to leave at the end of their enlistments, when ironically they were most needed. This movie is about a battalion commander training his unit, getting orders and shipping off to war. It also gives an excellent look at what the wives had to endure during that terrible time.

If one wants to look at the politics of this war, check out HBO's Path to War. Path to War shows the speech were LBJ sends this unit, the Air Cav, to Vietnam and the political reasoning behind it. It goes through LBJ's escalation and McNamera's change of heart on the winnablity of the war. Highly recommend it.

Anyway, in realism this ranks up there with Saving Private Ryan. By reading the book you get a much better grasp of what happened as well as the story not told of what happened at LZ Albany. That encounter was even a worse then what happened at LZ X-Ray.

All told this movie gives the feel of how horrible, horrowing and confusing first-hand combat can be. One decision can lead to winning the day, or as the movie shows, getting yourself cut off and most of your men killed. As for accuracy to what occurred, a group of soldiers that were there appeared on The History Channel's "Hollywood vs History" program and they concurred that it was 75-80% factual. 20 - 25% Hollywood. That's probably a good ratio indeed. Oh, and the little American Flag at the end was real, not Hollywood. And Sam Elliot deserves an Academy Award for his portrait of American Hero Sgt. Major Basil Plumley.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 19, 2010 5:14:19 PM PDT
Raul Dejesus says:
Excellent Review and by the way I did purchase "Path to War" cant wait to see it! For so many years I have seen a slew of Vietnam movies and none of them moved me or touched me like this film has. I can't believe a movie about the Vietnam war was made that finally portrayed our troops courage and valor in this war. In my opinion it was long over due!

Raul De Jesus

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 9, 2012 3:12:34 PM PST
Larry D says:
I'm a Vietnam Vet, I was encouraged to go and see the movie. I had to leave when the battle scenes started. I had nightmares for months afterward.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 9, 2012 3:21:52 PM PST
BS says:
Thank you for your service Larry. Yes, the battle scenes are intense in this movie and does a good job, I think, of showing not only the chaos of battle but how importance of command staying calm and maintaining situational awareness. Again, thanks for serving your country.

Posted on Oct 25, 2014 1:05:42 AM PDT
300 Wisp says:
After I saw the movie I had to get the book just to see what ever happened to Sgt. Major Basil Plumley. Figured anyone that tough wouldn't have died in Vietnam. After I read the book you are right. To me they only told half the story. But hey, Mel left and thats a wrap. LOL

Posted on Jun 16, 2015 9:24:22 PM PDT
G. Garner says:
People nowadays like to gush over how important it is for the battle scenes to be 'realistic.' I find this nonsensical. Common sense would tell you that battle, especially to a newcomer, would be disorienting and confusing. Trying to capture that on film is a pointless thing. Movies are not about realism. They are about telling a story, but using film and sound rather than pen and paper. Often, the more realistic the combat scenes, the more confusing.

For instance, the soldiers in this film are dressed in similar shades. That may be realistic, but it is not good filmmaking. All this leads to is the audience trying to figure out who is who. Clusters of guys here and there, dressed basically the same, shot from a distance...........It all begins to run together. The fighting is much the same way. Too much emphasis on realism detracts from a war film(and most other kinds of films, as well.)

That said, I like this movie very much, myself. Most of the weaknesses I have outlined were far more pronounced in Saving Private Ryan or Black Hawk Down. The battle sequences are far more coherent in We Were Soldiers.

Plus, this film was not made by-or FOR-people who hate our country. That, in and of itself, is a nice chance of pace.
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