We Were Soldiers 2002 Movie Scene The North Vietnamese attack during the night with close combat with the American troops

We Were Soldiers [2002]

There have been many movies about the Vietnam war focusing on different aspects of this horrific conflict. Some of them dealt with the aftermath like Jacob’s Ladder and The Deer Hunter while others focused on the combat. We Were Soldiers is probably the most realistic and brutal movie about the Vietnam war. It follows soldiers led by the experienced Lt. Col. Hal Moore into the first major battle of the Vietnam war, the Battle of Ia Drang. And while there were other, older movies portraying the firefights, this is the first one where the technology allowed for those “Saving Private Ryan scenes”. After all, one of the best war movies ever, Black Hawk Down, came out just a year earlier. 

What makes We Were Soldiers stand out among the sea of similar movies is its authenticity. The movie is based on a book written by Moore and journalist Joe Galloway. Both of them were there, in that living hell on Earth, and went to extreme lengths to honor both the dead and the living. They even sat down with the commander of the North Vietnamese army Nguyen Huu An and discussed the course of the battle. So, you will also be able to get a crash course in battle tactics. With a running time of two hours and fifteen minutes, this is an epic that’s going to take up your whole evening.

It follows the familiar pattern where we will spend the first third of the movie getting to know the characters and preparing for combat. What follows next is almost an hour and a half of intense combat with just a few terrifying breaks. Those breaks are there to help bring home just how fucked up of a battle this was. How life was cheap and how easily you could’ve died. And it’s always the same fucking thing, young soldiers sent to war by politicians. And once they’re there, they have to fight for the man next to them. Just horrific and so fucking unnecessary. All those lives lost and for fucking what?

It is the year of our lord Satan 1965 and the Vietnam war is slowly ramping up. After weeks of preparations, it’s time for the first assignment for the newly-formed Air Calvary Unit. Using helicopters as their modern horses, this unit is led by veteran soldier Hal Moore. He’s the living embodiment of the perfect soldier and the right man for the job. As they start landing on that empty field, Hal soon realizes that he and his soldiers might be in trouble. What he doesn’t know is that things will soon take a turn for the worse, much, much worse.

Of course, the star of We Were Soldiers is Mel Gibson who was excellent as Hal Moore. Sam Elliot without his iconic mustache gave a classic gritty Sam Elliot performance but Greg Kinnear blew me away here. I didn’t know he had that in him while I did know that Barry Pepper was born for the role of Joe Galloway. The movie will keep going back and forth between the combat in Vietnam and anxious families back home. And while this did mess with the momentum a bit it was also incredibly important to see the impact of these events on American soil.

For example, an Australian movie featuring a similar situation from the Vietnam War, Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan, focused purely on the fighting. We Were Soldiers is a different kind of beast. It’s not melodramatic and it’s not glorifying anything about the war. It portrays the North Vietnamese as humans and not as enemies. And the American soldiers as men who came there to do their duty and ultimately, their job. Finally, if you’re looking something a bit casual, do check out action comedy that’s taking place during the war but not in Vietnam but in neighboring Laos, Air America. It also stars Mel Gibson bolstered by young Robert Downey Jr. and it’s also based on actual events.

Director: Randall Wallace

Writers: Harold G. Moore, Joseph Lee Galloway, Randall Wallace

Cast: Mel Gibson, Sam Elliott, Greg Kinnear, Duong Don, Madeleine Stowe, Barry Pepper

Fun Facts: Six Huey helicopters you can see in the movie were rented from private individuals and not the army.


IMDb Link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0277434/

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