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18 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

An Old-Fashioned War Film in the Post-Vietnam Era

Author: Sturgeon54 from United States
22 June 2005

Every single film critic's review of this I could find - Leonard Maltin and Roger Ebert being two of these critics whom I particularly respect - have given it a pitifully low rating. I can't completely figure it out, but I think the reason this movie failed to garner better reviews might have had something to do with the timing of its release; one must remember that the Vietnam War was still an open scab for this country in the mid-'80s, and all the film treatments of the war up until then had been pointed tragedies - from "The Deer Hunter" to "Apocalypse Now", "Coming Home", and even director Sidney J. Furie's other 1978 Vietnam film "Boys in Company C." So, audiences and critics were probably not very open at that time to a film about a romantic relationship in the middle of the war with a semi-happy ending. However, in hindsight this movie deserves a second look, and seems to have received one, as indicated by the positive reviews I have read from virtually every amateur online reviewer, which would qualify this movie as a sleeper 20 years after its original release.

Essentially, the movie has an old-fashioned storyline with 1980s sensibilities - the type of movie that would have been more at home in the post-WWII era along with such films as "From Here to Eternity" or "The Best Years of Our Lives." I disagree with Ebert's review, which said this was simply one of those ridiculous movies where "the whole world was a stage, and millions of people were fighting and dying so that these two goofballs could swap spit?" Ken Wahl and Cheryl Ladd play fairly likable, 3-dimenional characters - he a shallow Naval surgeon who volunteered for wartime duty for the experience, and she an altrusitic nurse with strong street-smarts. They meet at a Naval base hospital where Wahl has taken an injured soldier for emergency care, but complications ensure when he tries to carry on a relationship with her in the middle of wartime. I thought the film held the utmost respect for military personnel in the war - the attention to technical detail was superb, and the final credits list no less than six military technical advisors. In addition, I was most impressed by the convincing battle scenes, and believe that these scenes might be some of director Furie's best work, easily in the same league of "Boys in Company C" and even "Platoon." Make no mistake: this is a war movie with a romantic story angle, not a romance movie with a war story angle, and I believe director Furie makes this important distinction very clear.

Furie was right to make a movie about Vietnam with a unique storyline: after all, I am sure there were romantic relationships that developed in that war, with such close contact among medical personnel in trying circumstances. Additionally, he deserves credit for making the first and only film I can think of to portray the service of women in the Vietnam War - the acclaimed TV series "China Beach" is the only other portrayal of similar subject matter. This movie was just released at the wrong time, when audiences were expecting only angry, hard-hitting social commentary. "Purple Hearts" is another example of why Furie is the Rodney Dangerfield of film directors, never receiving any respect when it is due. While no masterpiece, I still recommend this little-seen film.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A good war/anti-war story, a very good love story

Author: CharlieHoward from United States
14 June 2006

This thoroughly entertaining movie has two intertwined story lines: a talented Navy doctor (Ken Wahl) trying to save lives while coping with the challenges of working in a war zone, and his involvement with a talented nurse (Cheryl Ladd).

Other reviewers have already commented on the superb photographic artistry, so I'll just say that, more than 20 years after first seeing it, what still stands out in my mind is its ending.

It's astonishing that (as of June, 2006), Purple Hearts still has not been released on DVD. Until then, you still may be able to rent or buy it on VHS.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A Movie for the Romantic

Author: whizmaw from United States
22 November 2005

A real feel good movie. The ending is the best, just like I would want this kind of movie to end. I saw this movie when it came out in 1984 and I have been looking for a copy, now that I can afford the price. I finally got one off of E-Bay. I enjoyed the action and the romance. It is really a good movie for the person who is tired of the movies coming out today. Cheryl Ladd is one of the most beautiful women in the business, and a terrific actress, Ken Wahl is also a very strong character and the combat scenes are fantastic. I also noticed that R. Lee Ermey is in this movie playing his best character a Marine Gunnery Sargent. If you get the chance find a copy and watch.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Love and War, a strong combination.

Author: Audie-T from Holland
30 January 2004

A surprisingly good warmovie.

It has realistic battle scenes, competent acting plus it shows the Vietnam war from the medics' and doctors' point of view. The romance was believable and Cheryl Ladd was always a decent actress (and good-looking).

Battle scene highlights: the NVA assault on a USMC firebase. Those Marines' bloodlust was on a par with the NVA's!

I don't like chicks' movies, or *romantic* movies. I do agree however, that nearly all warmovies need a healthy dose of realistic romance. 'Purple Hearts' provides us with just that.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Is there a "Best Special Ops Scene In A Romantic Movie" category?

Author: IslandMadMacs from Honolulu, Hawaii
9 September 2003

First off, this is a much better movie than you would think by just looking at the cast and production.

Yes, essentially this is a wartime romance with all the tear jerky stuff you would expect. (which I happen to enjoy too) But, and this is where things take a turn toward the interesting, this film properly portrays several elements of the US military during the Vietnam War. Including what I consider an incredibly detailed Navy Seal Ops unit, both in characterization and temperament. It borders on the bizarre that such a nugget of special ops combat would be hidden inside a romantic flick.

Their mission, of course, is based on the real life US Army Special Forces rescue operation/raid on Son Tay Prison. But the effect is amazing. A sort of "what if" had the Navy been tasked with the rescue.

Additionally, the firebase hospital scenes were again surprisingly realistic. As well as the actions of the personnel on the naval hospital ship. I'm not sure who the advisors to the movie were, but their on-hand knowledge were well used by both the director and cinematographer.

This was at the height of star Ken Wahl's career - so it comes as a sad reminder of careers that 'could-have-been'. The acting is well done and the romance with beautiful Cheryl Ladd very tangible.

Finally, kudos to Lane Smith who portrays the by-the-book Navy doctor, Commander Markel - and R. Lee Ermey as the Marine Gunnery Sergeant. Not surprisingly R. Lee wasn't stretching his acting muscles too much since he is in fact a globe-n-anchor combat vet who did multiple tours in Nam. If you enjoy the berating bark of everyone's favorite jarhead, check out History Channel's "Mail Call" which R.Lee hosts.

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11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:


Author: Tracee from Baltimore, Maryland
18 October 1999

This movie was so beautiful. After seeing it, I read some of the reviews and I thought they were not anywhere near to what I saw. I always like to see movies where people find love where they least expected it. I just knew that in the end, he would find her at the hospital. This movie was perfect. I would definitely see it again.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Great Film

Author: Patricia from Malaga Spain
12 January 2003

I loved this film. It is one I will watch time and time again. It is a War film for the men and a love story for the women....O.K. there is a lot of swearing in the film but it is in context.I have not seen Ken Wahl in anything else but will now watch out for films with him in. Cheryl Ladd was very good in the film.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Can't fault it

Author: Carol Sandford from United Kingdom
13 November 2005

I love a good war film, and I love a good romance. This film had both, and more besides. I'd never seen Ken in anything else before, and he quite simply blew me away. Every time I watch this film, and I still do, regularly, there is always something new in it. Ken is surrounded by great actors who bring out the best in him. Cheryl was absolutely perfect as his leading lady, and Whizz was just a blast alongside being a faithful buddy. Hanes was a fantastic choice, too, bringing a youthful intelligent and likable black man into it was a brilliant thought. The two sexual scenes were awesome. Tasteful, but sexy. Gut-wrenching, but hopeful. And the ending...beautiful.

I love it. Simple as that.

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I like Purple Hearts (1984)

Author: davidevans-36321 from United States
10 November 2015

I have heard that this film got some negative reviews when it came out. I am not surprised. It was not politically correct in a movie about this war to present those who served as other than crazies, drug users, etc. The large majority of us weren't. This is not a great film. But. I think it is a really good one. I served in the Navy, and spent time in Vietnam, including at Da Nang (1972). I will tell you that a lot of what you see in this film is fairly realistic, or at least is far more so than what is seen in most "Vietnam movies." I think Cheryl Ladd played a main role in getting this film made. She, Ken Wahl, and the rest of the cast did a first class job. She and they showed high integrity in this film. Another thing different about this film than 90% of the American movies that were made about this war is that it respects those who served. You will care about these characters. It also happens to be a great love story.

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Could have been measurably better without Wahl and Ladd

Author: iroquoisjoe from United States
22 February 2015

I am sure the principal actors did their best, but ultimately they both really lack something...something hard to define.

Ladd at least makes me believe she could have been a nurse in Viet Nam. On the other hand, I have trouble believing Ken Wahl made it out of high school, much less made it through medical school, life as an intern, and then independent doctor.

Still...their romantic moments are sketchy. They both don't convince me of the "irresistible" attraction.

Ladd seems a little too un-emotive and bland...again, probably an accurate portrayal of a war time nurse, forced to distance herself from what she is seeing everyday...thus kind of turning us away from sympathizing with her. By the time she is shaking from her brush with death with the black marketeers her acting seems believable, but just still manages to be cold. Accurate but not endearing. As a side note she looks excellent in a white bra.

Ken Wahl. The less said the better. I am sure he is a likable. I can believe that someone saw him and thought "he's going to be a big star!". They were wrong. This movie proved it. This was his vehicle and, maybe it was that huge unibrow, but every time there was a close up of him...the audience probably focused more on that than on his attempts at "emotions".

Cheryl Ladd also got her big chance with this...and I suspect she can thank her relationship to the man the production company is named after, Alan Ladd Jr. president/founder of the Ladd Co....her relative by marriage. But in the end there was a reason she was relegated to TV beyond this and it shows up here.

The movie was an interesting, but rambling romp. It might have been a sleeper hit or even a regular one...but Wahl and Ladd were not the two actors to put it over the top.

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