Under Heavy Fire
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From the Back Cover
From the director of "Boys in Company C" and in the tradition of "Platoon" and "Apocalypse Now" comes a riveting action film about Echo Company, one of the hardest hit American units of the Vietnam War. After one of the War's most brutal battles is waged, Captain Ramsey (Casper Van Dien), the officer in charge of the campaign, is falsely accused of providing incorrect bombing coordinates, causing the senseless deaths of the men under his command. With all the odds against him, Ramsey now faces the battle of his life in this epic story about bravery, loyalty and honor.
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Top Customer Reviews
The movie proceeds in a series of flashbacks, which is interesting and effective. The acting is good and the cinematography is excellent, as is the soundtrack - very appropriate.
The biggest flaws are connected to the main issue: how did the friendly fire incident occur. Since there was a court-martial, one would think that the issue of who gave the wrong coordinates to the artillery would have been brought up there. But seemingly not. On the other hand, few real-life trials (either military or civilian) seem to deal with all the pertinent facts in a competent way.
The scene where the truth comes out is actually the weakest - a bit too much running around with random screaming (yes, they all have PTSD but it's odd that everyone flipped out at the same time) and the fact that two of these guys somehow managed to smuggle in or obtain pistols in Vietnam in the 2000s (or thereabouts) and fire off numerous rounds next to a village without some sort of Viet police reaction (like arrest and imprisonment). But we've all seen major studio productions with far worse reality gaps.
The pace is good and you keep watching to see what happens. Meanwhile, there's a lot going on.
(NOTE: some reviewers complained that the incidents didn't seem likely. I have various friends who, while serving in Vietnam, were variously present at or involved in one fragging, one attempted murder of an officer, two different mutinies (one of which was company-sized), torture of civilians (by ARVN and also by ROK) and killing of innocent civilians. Sorry, gentlemen, but all this was happening. Not everywhere, not all the time, but it was happening. This doesn't mean, of course, that the VC and NVA weren't as bad or worse. No side came out of that war with clean hands.)
Be advised, this is present in TV format aspect ratio wise. Meaning you will not get a full screen. I found this watchable if not stellar. Casper Van Dien does a good job in his role as a stoic Marine leader of men.
The movie centers on two things--survivors from a Marine line company of which Marine Capt. Ramsey(Casper Van Dien)takes command and leads the men through several scenes. Everything from viewing the bodies of enemy troops who were killed in a B-52 strike, to the Battle of Hue during the Tet Offensive of '68, and to the fateful day in the rice paddies when several Marines obviously rebel against one of the captain's orders and march off unknowingly towards an NVA ambush, where the captain tries to call down artillery fire on the enemy in the treeline and several Americans die when the shells land on their own position instead. Ramsey is immediately blamed for this disaster, even though an inquiry doesn't feel the same way.
The second point of the movie is several Vietnam vets of this company journey back to Vietnam in the present day under the camera lens of a documentary crew. They are still full of hate against their commander, who also shows up at the last minute at their "orientation" meeting. The men lash out at him during this movie right up to the point where when they see the rice paddies where the incident took place, each man goes through their own personal hell of reliving the tragedy that took place there in '68. Shots are even fired from one maniacal veteran as he pulls out a gun(how the hell did he manage to get that through airport security???)and fires off some shots that hit both the former Captain and the former Sergeant. One of the vets realizes that it was never Ramsey's fault, since he screwed up the coordinates himself for the artillery support instead of Ramsey, and he takes personal blame for this. It looks like the sergeant who got shot is a goner for a while, but those who are shot in this flashback episode all manage to survive.
What I liked in the end is how before the men are going home, they all stop and salute their former Captain, having finally let go of their anger and have full respect for him after those 40-odd years.
What I wondered about was why there was no police involvement from the Vietnamese government. Certainly if there's a bit of gunplay being displayed with a bunch of Vietnam vets going through their flashbacks, wouldn't they respond to this with at least an INVESTIGATION??? Or maybe because the only proof that something went down in those fields was simply on the tape of the video being shot by this, which the reporter claims with a smile "the full hour of which was erased accidentally by a magnet." But besides that, it was quite a movie. I liked the viewpoints of the veterans back from when they were serving in the war, and then when they're old men going back to Vietnam to confront their past once more.
Don't know much why people hated this movie, but I give it 5 stars. It could have been much worse, and was very well detailed.