Taking place in 1969 during the Vietnam War, an Army Platoon out of the 101st Airborne Division "Screaming Eagles", must prep themselves for a return to the murderous Ashau Valley. Their mission is to assault and capture hilltop 937, which is under heavy protection by the NVA, North Vietnamese Army. This is another one of their attempts after a few failed ones. Many of the soldiers do not want to return, unfortunately, duty calls and apparently orders are orders. -summary
There's no real sense to give much background on the Vietnam War. In all honesty, any American who possesses no knowledge on the event should do themselves a favor and look it up. Written by James Carabastos, and directed by John Irvin, Hamburger Hill, which was released in 1987 and based on a true event, follows the 3rd squad of first platoon lead by two Sgt's; Worchester (Steven Weber) and Frantz (Dylan McDermott), as they assault this heavily fortified position for 10 days 11 times. Irvin does a splendid job telling the story on the plight of these brave men who suffered and died basically for nothing.
During the beginning, Irvin takes a small amount of time developing some of the soldiers, and the viewer will get to know some before the bullets start flying, and others during their breaks after the failed attempts. Even though many of them aren't very well developed and they're present for a lengthy body count, it's still hard not to care for any of them, because you know the situation that they're in.
Almost from the beginning, the battle sequences are pretty graphic and they escalate as the assaults continue. There are plenty of moments where it appears that the soldiers are shooting at nothing, however, the enemy is indeed out there, and the viewer will know, since each conflict ends with another causality. The shoot outs are entertaining and the gore level does increase with a disturbing death scene here and there. The special effects are nothing to look down on, as you will get good views of the carnage. Although the battles are meant to entertain in a way, it's pretty hard to look at this as your regular entertainment because it feels so damn real, and it's based on true events.
The writing is very strong when examining that sense of brotherhood that develops between soldiers. During those very tough times, those men only had each other to lean on, and I enjoyed the way this was put to the screen. Irvin also examines the anti-war aspect, and shows the effects of it on soldiers morale. These scenes really wouldn't have had much impact if not for the fine performances by Weber and McDermott. There are also other performances worth mentioning delivered by the platoon medic Doc played by Courtney B. Vance, and Motown played by Michael Boatman.
Irvine pulls little to no punches here, and they continue pressing on the soldiers bravery during battle, with one final suicide run to take the hill. He also covers the horrible effects of very poor communication. It's sad to say but accidents happen.
There are plenty of other things I would like to say, but to continue would mean spoilers for those who have not seen the film, so I'll end it with this. Hamburger Hill is among my favorite war films that I catch a couple of times a year. It's a very good war-drama with some very strong story elements. I highly recommend the film to all film lovers, and if you're a fan of war films, then even better.
Pros: -Direction, acting, characters, based on a true event
Cons: -Believe it or not, action scenes could have been a bit more
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May 22, 2011
Jun 15, 2013 08:21 PM UTC
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