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A few Australians have already written on this site praising the film for its portrayal of the Australian SAS in Vietnam and commented at length about the scope of the film. I would like to comment about the accurate way the military operations are portrayed. I served in the US Army in the 101st Airborne Division's elite LRSD (Long Range Surveillance Detatchment)where this film was one of our favorites. It was, and still is, the only film we had ever seen that realisticly showed what long range recon patrols are like; slow, concealed, quiet, and sometimes fruitless small team patrols made up of professional soldiers. We were also impressed that the film showed the part of all patrols that movies never show, the planning phase where the operation order is given and reviewed, mission essential equipment is meted out, maps are studied, radio frequencies and callsigns are memorized, and all questions are asked. The film shows the unglamorous and sometimes dull side of special warfare, but is still a must for anyone interested in special operations units that wants to see what it's all about.
Terribly underrated, and generally unknown in the US. Although the film deals with Australian troops in Viet Nam, this could very easily have been any of the US units. Any of us who served on the ground there will recognize these men as buddies we knew. The combat sequences in this film are among the best ever filmed, and until "Platoon" came along, it was one of the few films that portrayed the combat experience in Viet Nam as it really was. Like "84 Charlie MoPic", it's a small film that tells a large story without beating you over the head with its message. When people ask me which are the best films about that endless mess in Viet Nam, this is one of the first films I refer them to (along with "MoPic"). My VHS copy is just about worn out; I never tire of its grim humor and honest story. (USMC, Viet Nam 67-69)
The posters have been accurate, but there are a couple of points to
1) When Graham Kennedy made this, it was well past his crow imitating days - he was trying to crack into movies (and doing generally quite well)
2) The original novel was based on the experiences of the author. That is how he saw his experiences in the SAS. The movie is an excellent adaptation. So when you ask if these guys would have stormed Kosovo, the answer is 'YES!' There is a very well done scene where they clear out a temple (i hope). This shows the true level of professionalism in the SAS at that time, despite all the nonsense they carry on with....
3) What most war films don't do is the extreme boredom felt by soldiers between combat ... this film does do that. Even Saving Private Ryan didn't quite make it...
4) Apart from those minor quibbles, I agreed with the reviewers... Find this film and watch it. While it is flawed, it is possibly the best Vietnam film, and the one with the least political baggage...
I have seen this film 2-3 times and it haunts me still. Absolutely one of THE best Vietnam war films. It stands (in my humble opinion) right at the top of the tree above "Full Metal Jacket" and "Platoon". The attention to detail, the painstaking portrayal of military ops (endless preparation and all...), the loooooong periods of boredom interspersed with the short, frantic, terrifying engagements with the enemy... Perhaps most tellingly, the grim gallows humour of the men right at the sharp end, the men actually doing the job who in the midst of all the horror, manage to ease the stress by finding the funny side of it all. A film you don't see shown that often. If you get the chance, see it. I guarantee you will not forget it.
This is one of my all time favourite films. It is starting to show its
age, but only a little.
This was one of the first films to come out detailing the soldiers experiences of Vietnam. It was filmed in 1979 when many of the scars of Vietnam were still fresh and well before the word Vietnam became popular with society again.
Its not a story of heroics or fighting against the odds, its simply an Australian story of mateship. The humour and language is uniquely Australian so it may be a little unfathomable to our overseas friends at times :) Basically its the story of a 12 month tour of duty by a small team of SAS personnel. Unlike regular Australian troops or US Troops, the SAS would deploy deep into the jungle for weeks at a time in small teams of 4 or 5. Alone and cutoff, they were he eyes and ears of the Australian Task Force in the Phouc Tuy province. It took a special kind of man to operate in an environment like that.
The movie shows the interaction, the good natured bantering and jibes between them and above all the deep unspoken bond between them all.
Its not a traditional war movie, so don't go expecting heroic bayonet charges, or savage last stands etc Don't go looking for historical battles and events.
Just appreciate it for what it is, a story about a few blokes, a few beers, a few laughs and a few tears.
A really well constructed Australian film, that accurately portrays the Vietnam 'feeling' in this country. Best described as a sad thought provoking work, with some excellent and funny performances by the skilled cast. A low budget film that 'over achieves' its message.
I first saw this film on tv It captures for me the feeling of
Vietnam soldiers who dont want to be in a war dont know what the war is
It took me years of seaching till I found a copy on VHS which think is nearly worn out. Thought provoking sad and funny the great line "Bugger all" whilst seaching the temple is totally unforgettable to me.
I have seen this movie many times and never tire of it. Knowing people
that were involved in the conflict I believe that this is how they
acted. Graham Kennedy is excellent as Harry as are the other actors. It
is a no holds barred account of the soldiers time in the jungles of
Vietnam. Showing the soldiers personal side to the story only makes
this film better.
This movie is also now available on DVD. It is well worth obtaining a copy as this movie is well worth keeping in any persons DVD library. This is one the better made Australian movies and future generations will also enjoy watching an account of a turbulent time in world history.
This film is rarely shown, but is available on video if you hunt around.
is a minor classic and stars a young Bryan Brown and a Graham Kennedy
his crow imitating newsreader days.
Whether it portrays the SAS realistically is a moot point, but this was the Australian SAS in the late sixties/early seventies and reference to Australian Books such as the "Phantoms of the Jungle", suggest that the Swanbourne troops went through Vietnam in the way portrayed.
The film is worth watching not for the overdone anti-war message but the black humour and jokes. The presentation of the shoebox contraption to the pardre is worth watching in itself.
I think that the essence of this movie is that it had very little
actual battle field footage, no blood and guts or real gore, and
\relied more upon the interaction of the characters in the story. One
interesting bit of trivia is that when the guys were in trouble during
target practice the names used were green, brown etc. and that Bryan
Browns name during that scene was brown, was that why he giggled??
All in all a great movie that portrays the ideology of the Aussie psyche at that time and the irreverent nature which typifies the Australian spirit at that time.
Graham Kennedy had a masterful performance even though he seemed about ten years over the age limit for the role.
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