We Were Soldiers

 (13,021)
7.12 h 18 min2002X-RayR
The story of the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War, and the soldiers on both sides that fought it, while their wives wait nervously and anxiously at home for the good news or the bad news.
Directors
Randall Wallace
Starring
Mel GibsonChris KleinBarry Pepper
Genres
HistoricalMilitary and WarActionDrama
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English
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Supporting actors
Sam ElliottMadeleine StoweDylan WalshGreg KinnearKeri RussellDon DuongRyan HurstRobert BagnellMarc BlucasJosh DaughertyJsu GarciaJon HammClark GreggDesmond HarringtonBlake HeronErik Macarthur
Producers
Bruce DaveyStephen McEveetyRandall Wallace
Studio
Action and Adventure
Rating
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Alcohol usefoul languagesexual contentsmokingviolence
Purchase rights
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Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars

13021 global ratings

  1. 87% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 9% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 3% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 0% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 1% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

John P. Jones IIIReviewed in the United States on June 28, 2019
3.0 out of 5 stars
The shadows cast…
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Going out Highway 19, west of Pleiku, there was the French tea plantation, where a Frenchman and his two daughters lived, in relative security throughout the American war in Vietnam (LBJ had given orders that no American units were to fire into the tea plantation, even if fired upon). A bit beyond, was LZ Oasis. And from there one could look off to the southwest, some 20-30 km, and see the Chu Pong massif. Beneath, and around was the river valley known as the Ia Drang. By 1969, it seemed that no American soldiers really knew what happened there, other than the all-encompassing “some bad s…”. The massif’s shadow reached the Oasis, darkly, but in a metaphorical sense.

Thanks to Joe Galloway, who was the only reporter at the Battle of the Ia Drang, in 1965, and who, in conjunction with the commanding officer, Lt. Col. Hal Moore, wrote the book “We were soldiers once, and young,” which was published almost three decades after the battle, we now have a fairly accurate and objective picture of the battle. I’ve read (and reviewed in 2009) the book and have now seen the movie twice. The book was much better, for a key reason: the quote from Aeschylus, “In war, truth is the first casualty,” which was an epigraph for the chapter on the after-battle “spin” that was placed on the battle, some of which was spun in the movie.

It was the very first query in the movie: “Where does it begin?” For me, in particular, it was a 6-star answer, another shadow, that stopped too soon: June 25, 1954. The ambush and annihilation of the 2000 men and 10 tanks of French Groupe Mobile 100, on Highway 19, near An Khe. What followed is a 2-minute Hollywood re-enactment of the ambush… and the viewer is treated to some French epithets: pute chaleur, pute herbe, even pute pays… all of which was quite true, for armies of occupation. What is unmentioned is that this battle occurred six weeks AFTER the fall of Dien Bien Phu, when most of the world thought the war was over. Another version of the last men to die for a mistake. Further, unmentioned, is that American tanks fought in precisely the same area, only to be superseded by Soviet T-54’s, with Vietnamese crews, splitting southern Vietnam in half, in April 1975. That too could have been told.

In many ways, the Ia Drang was unique. It happened so very early in the war. Though precise numbers remain a bit fuzzy, probably more American soldiers died in the Ia Drang than at more famous battles, for example, Hue and Khe Sanh. “Famous” for a reason: more reporters were at the latter ones! Would we know anything about the Ia Drang if Joe Galloway had not been there? There was no other battle in which so many Americans and Vietnamese fought out in the open. It was extremely rare for American units in Vietnam to train, in the States, before deployment, as a unit. Far more typically, replacements were fed into units piecemeal, knowing no one already there (which, I felt, was a better way, since “veterans” of 10 months can bring the newbies up to speed, quickly). It appears that Lt. Col. Moore was genuinely depicted as a “lead from the front” officer: “my boots will be the first on the ground, and the last off,” “we will all come home,” and “take care of the men.” I knew two such officers. Regrettably, I knew many others, including one who could not read a map. The 1st Cav patches in the movie were yellow, true enough in 1965, before going to all black camouflage, and officers not wearing their rank (mindful of snipers!).

Even Hollywood could not have made up another “shadow.” The 1/7th Cav, the unit that Moore led, was the SAME one that Custer led (and Moore fully appreciated the irony). Also, purportedly, the 1/7th lost its battle standard in Korea. And now, in 1965, they were one of the very few units ever to have to call “broken arrow,” meaning that it was being overrun, and EVERY plane in the area of operation was to provide support.

There was a lot in the movie I liked. A willingness to depict what one had to do when an American soldier got hit with white phosphorous – cut it out with a knife; a very accurate depiction of an American soldier hit with napalm; the callousness of delivering notifications of the death of one’s husband via a cab driver; the black wife of an officer unable to use a laundromat in the town outside Fort Benning, GA, in 1965, because it was “Whites Only”; the jackals of the press arriving just after the battle, with their inane questions; the efforts of the MACV high command to get Moore off the battlefield, ‘cause losing draftees is one thing, but losing a Lt. Col. is a “massacre”; and yes, Moore leading from the front and refusing to leave the battlefield.

And there was a lot about the movie I did not like. At Fort Benning, Moore is apparently reading what the French had done in Indochine, in French, based on the book he carried, and he had been to Harvard, pute Harvard if you will excuse my French, and yet does not ask the most fundamental questions about why America is in the same “shadow”; the “tell my wife I love her” sign-off of the dying soldier; the “John Wayne” charge, which “Moore” led, that never happened; the omission of the worse slaughter at LZ Albany (only the fighting at LZ X-Ray was depicted), and, yes, where was Aeschylus, when we really needed him, as he was depicted in the book?

Moore deserves much credit for being one of the first back to Vietnam, to lead in efforts of reconciliation with the former adversary. As for the movie, 3-stars.
76 people found this helpful
Victor OrozcoReviewed in the United States on February 3, 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
Lay Me Down
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The hits just keep coming when it comes to Mel Gibson. I'm a big fan of his work and this is just another fine addition.

Mel Gibson plays another real life hero in Lt. Col. Hal Moore, US Army. The Vietnam War remains one of the most controversial conflicts that the US military has been involved in its storied history, but in this movie, the controversy takes a back seat to the heroism of the men who fought a war that their country had told them to. These brave men of the US Army's 7th Air Cavalry fought, died and those fortunate to survive in the Ia Drang Valley of South Vietnam had their story told on paper and thanks to the involvement of Mel Gibson, that story comes to life.

The training of the men involved in the months before the attack to their eventually deployment after the many months after the Gulf of Tonkin resolution is told here as well as the principal three days of battle as well. As well as the life of Colonel Moore and his family. Mel Gibson plays a reserved and devout family man who is wise and strong on the battlefield with his men. Truly Mel has done a great job in playing dozens of heroes before. The fact that its a real person he's portraying only adds to it.

But there is also another really good story told on the part of actress Madeleine Stowe who plays Julie Moore, the colonel's devoted wife. A sort of homefront storyline in which she takes command of the military wives doing basic things as in taking care of their needs in the absence of their husbands but probably the best scene in which she takes it upon herself to notify them of tragedy in the Army's callous indifference.

The acting is phenomenal and the action is brutal and true to life. Heroism can be told without silly propaganda and that's what is seen here, with respect and honesty. Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear, Sam Elliot, Chris Klein, Keri Russell and so many others make a powerful movie. So much has been made about Vietnam's controversy, but its great to finally see a movie of the men who fought it with dignity.

Truly a great movie.
47 people found this helpful
ROBERT TUXFORDReviewed in the United States on May 16, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
We owe our servicemen and women a lot. After seeing this movie...I hope you can understand this fact.
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Being a Vietnam Vet, this movie brought back memories. Mel Gibson acting was superior. No doubt he did his home-work with filming this movie. The movie has its sad moments...but when American soldiers are dying in battle...you can't help cry a little bit. However, I recommend this movie to all Vietnam Vets...and get ready to shed some crying....deep down in your soul. A lot of young/0ld men died in this movie...that was actually fought in the central highlands or S. Vietnam. Today, when you see a man or woman in U.S. military dress...please shake their hand...and thank them for serving. No one ever thanked me for serving. But, I always shake any the hand of all U.S. military persons that I see. Only those that were there...really can understand...what we went through.. God bless our men and women serving our country. You will be proud of purchasing and watching this movie...it's well worth the money!
164 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on March 15, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
True story about events that happened in the Vietnam war that stars Mel Gibson
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This is 2020 and this movie was released in the theaters in 2002 so it is as of right now 18 years old and is now the first time while looking around on Amazon when I was made aware that this movie even existed and don't know how this movie got past me all these years because I am a big fan of Mel Gibson who plays a lieutenant in the movie. Look at the ratings look at the 5 stars 88% as I write this review.
This movie is a true story and takes place in Vietnam. It is a war movie and what else really needs to be said about that . Lots of loud gunfire lots of men getting shot lots of blood (but this movie has nothing on the movie hacksaw ridge when it comes to blood and gore) . Lots of shouting of orders lots of young men who lost their lives over what but did what they did for "OUR" country because they were made to do so back in the day.
Realistic and worth watching. Which I feel all Americans should see any war movie our American men and women have fought in I feel its the least we can do to see some of what they went through and if it becomes to hard to watch it we at least as we sit in our homes and on our comfortable chairs can shut it off it it becomes to much but when your a soldier you don't have that privilege. Recommend it to everyone and is rated R.
15 people found this helpful
BoomReviewed in the United States on March 15, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Criminally underrated
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I've seen this movie once during the battle scenes because I was flipping through the channels and told myself I need to watch this whole movie. Fast forward several years later, I finally got around to it thanks to Amazon. Now i'm going to buy it.

This is not just a war movie. It's a war movie that puts many things in perspective, i.e., human psyche, humanity, determination, love, hope, empathy, willpower, duality of man. It's a mixture of feelings that get wrapped up in this movie in which it grabs your attention throughout.

Super cast, acting, writing, cinematography, everything is fantastic. A lot of people talk about Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, etc when it comes to war movies first which are fine movies too and that is why I say this one is criminally underrated. I never hear anyone mention this first when it comes to war movies and it should.

This battle was one of the fiercest ones where many soldiers risk their lives for the common good. It makes you really appreciate our military that much more.
9 people found this helpful
joel wingReviewed in the United States on February 17, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Much more than your typical war film
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We Were Soldiers is based upon a true story and covers the development of the U.S. Air Cavalry, soldiers ferried to and from the battlefield in helicopters in Vietnam in 1965. It’s different from your usual war film in several ways. First, the commander played by Mel Gibson studies the French loss in Vietnam which opens the story. He notes that they made all kinds of mistakes and got massacred in one encounter. Second, right before they deploy Gibson is told that one third of his men he just trained will be rotated out and be replaced with all green soldiers. Such rotations had a big effect upon unit cohesion during the war. Third, most of the movie focuses upon one engagement that went wrong right from the start. A bad decision meant the unit was going to suffer huge losses. That’s brought home by Gibson’s wife played by Madeleine Stowe having to deliver the death notices to the wives of officers. Fourth it includes a bit on the Vietnamese side with the commander of a Vietnamese division played by Duong Don. Last the film highlights what a waste the Vietnam War was. Duong comments it was a tragedy and the Americans would face the same fate as the French before them. All together that makes We Were Soldiers a superior war film.
8 people found this helpful
MichaelReviewed in the United States on March 5, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
This movie is defintely a 10 STAR and made to 2022 ACTION! Its that good to my surprise :)
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Im very critical of war movies, seen many of them from Hitler, gigsgukon, holocaust, etc........ Ofcourse, with Mel Gibson, he did not let me down in areas where i thought he would. Being Mel plays the lieutenant colonel which i well, being the colonel assistant in the military he did what he could under the unknown circumstances and did it EXCELLENT. Yes, life was lost at a major number on both sides, thats what war ultimately is! I have to admit while not being a coward, when the colonel was called back to headquarters for a debrief, he manned up and refused to follow that order! The united States has some of the best training war colleges for officers and it helped the battalion on that mountain tremendously survive using tactics to reduce the enemy numbers like call for fire, BROKEN ARROW etc. Im sorry for any loss of life. The truth is ANY country is only free by their military strength against another! My score is a 10 star! You cannot tell this movie is ten years old!
5 people found this helpful
Rich HoltzinReviewed in the United States on May 23, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
here is one of the best, if not THE best
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Mel Gibson's personal vendetta's aside, here is one of the best, if not THE best, Viet Nam movies every made. Lt. Col. Hal Moor, played by Gibson, arguably is the only soldier who ever stood entirely for his men (then or now), and this classic is the only movie of its kind ever made about and for the soldier on the battlefield. You may not like or enjoy war movies, or even support the ravages of war, but this movie is true to Moor's book he wrote about his men...brave and fearless men who were engaged in one of Viet Nam's most lopsided battle that should have been won by the Viet Cong, except his men managed the impossible and defeated 'the perceived enemy.'
34 people found this helpful
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