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Full Metal Jacket (1987)

R | | Drama, War | 10 July 1987 (USA)
A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gny. Sgt. Hartman (as Lee Ermey)
Rafterman (as Kevyn Major-Howard)
Lt. Touchdown
Kieron Jecchinis ...
Tim Colceri ...
Jon Stafford ...
Doc Jay (as John Stafford)
Ian Tyler ...
Lt. Cleves


A two-segment look at the effect of the military mindset and war itself on Vietnam era Marines. The first half follows a group of recruits in boot camp under the command of the punishing Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. The second half shows one of those recruits, Joker, covering the war as a correspondent for Stars and Stripes, focusing on the Tet offensive. Written by Scott Renshaw <as.idc@forsythe.stanford.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


One rifle, one gun. One for killing, one for fun. See more »


Drama | War


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

10 July 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket  »


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,217,307, 28 June 1987, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Editor Martin Hunter admired Kubrick's energy after one lengthy editing session. Editing for hours, Hunter, tired and weary, looked over at Kubrick, who was also tired and suggested they have a break. Kubrick agreed, and said that a festival print of "Doctor Strange" had just come in and that they could "relax" by winding the reels through and checking it over. See more »


Animal's aimless shots blow away parts of the "My Toan" sign, but it is later seen intact. See more »


[first lines]
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: I am Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, your senior drill instructor. From now on you will speak only when spoken to, and the first and last words out of your filthy sewers will be "Sir". Do you maggots understand that?
Recruits: [In unison in a normal speaking tone] Sir, yes Sir.
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Bullshit I can't hear you. Sound off like you got a pair!
Recruits: [In unison, much louder] SIR, YES SIR!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: If you ladies leave my island, if you survive recruit training, you will be a weapon. You will be a minister of death praying ...
See more »


Referenced in Whiplash (2014) See more »


Happy Birthday
Written by Mildred J. Hill and Patty S. Hill
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Kubrick - yay! One of the best war-based movies ever
5 November 2002 | by See all my reviews

I like Kubrick's stuff. Generally any movie he directed was several notches, in quality terms, above any other director (particularly those working nowdays). Does `Full Metal Jacket' continue to show the mastermind behind `2001', `The Shining' and `Dr. Strangelove'? Yup, it does.

As plots go. there isn't much here. I don't particularly care because the script makes up for it. `Full Metal Jacket' is very much a movie of two halves - the first half dealing with a group of conscripts in training at military camp and the hardships they endure under their `hard-as-nails' instructor. The second half is about their exploits in Vietnam itself. Fights? In 'Nam? Haven't we seen all that before? Yes, but rarely with such an experienced hand at work. And it's the camp scenes that are so wonderful.

Gustav Hasford et. Al. have produced an excellent script, particularly for the opening hour. There's barely a moment's pause before you're thrown into the screaming face of Sergeant Hartman. He's hurling abuse at his new recruits with lines so forceful and sharp they'll have you gasping in shock while simultaneously laughing in incredulity. It's the way the script runs in without a pause for breath that helps so wonderfully - and the fact that it's so powerful. It's never just about one-liners from a sergeant, it's also telling a story about how humans work under these conditions. The first half is about how they suffer under their own at home (and very well told it is too), the second half about the human condition under the duress of war. It's an interesting comparison, and a tale well told. The battle may lack some sort of overall context or resolution, but then I feel that's in keeping with the movie - it's about the individual, and not the war, and such elements cannot be easily quantified.

All the characters have a grounded `real world' feel to them, due to both the material and the versatility of the actors. R. Lee Emery is viciously delightful as the manic Sergeant Hartman, while managing to add occasional touches of humanity and a `this is for your own good' attitude through subtle gestures. Matthew Modine is the amiable lead, Private Joker, and as such balances the hard and soft edges admirably (if not spectacularly). The other stand out though is Vincent D'Onofrio as Private Gomer Pyle, the recruit picked upon by Hartman and the other cadets. There's a wonderful innocence about him in the beginning, which transforms into a frightening hardening of his soul later on. The evil/beyond-hope look he gives later on (anyone who has seen the movie will know the one I mean), remains as the most frightening look I've ever seen depicted onscreen. All in all the cast accredit themselves well here.

And so to the direction. It's Kubrick. It's good. Once more there's excellent cinematography - check out the haunting, almost claustrophobic landscapes of Vietnam. There's some lovely use of filters (that haunting blue). There's a brilliant subtle score, that's eerie when used, but never intrusive. There's a very good command of pace - the viewer is never left idle or bored, and the story (particularly in the tremendous first half) flows along smoothly. Great touches abound throughout - check out the many examples, such as the opening scene of Hartman marching right up to the recruits (and to the camera), spitting and screaming vindictive comments, almost as if at the viewer. Some may criticise the almost disconnected feeling you have in the battle scenes towards the end, but I found their stillness, their quietness, and raw power, far more effective than the flash-bang wizardry employed in tripe such as `We Were Heroes'. I can blather on about Kubrick for ages. so I'll stop now.

Is `Full Metal Jacket' perfect? Not quite because of the `two halves' syndrome. Although they do contrast and complement one another, the first half is very much the stronger half. The second feels weaker against it. In and of itself the second half would normally be regarded well, but it doesn't have the visceral power that the first does. I love both bits, but I do love one bit more. This makes the movie suffer just a little. There's so much to like here though that I can't criticise too much - and so much to cherish (especially in the lines delved out). Once more the main man succeeds. Definetely worth seeing. 9/10.

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