Platoon Leader (1988) Poster

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9/10
This is the real thing.
capo-424 January 2000
If you want to see the Vietnam War as it was experienced by a real Platoon Leader, this is it. Authentic, down to the mannerisms, slang, terror and disillusion of it all, this film has none of the wierd phantasms of Apocalypse Now or the left wing political hype of Oliver Stone's Platoon.

Richard C. Caporiccio, LTC, US Army, Retired, former Platoon Leader, 3rd Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne), LZ Uplift, Republic of Vietnam from Jan 2 to December 24, 1969.
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9/10
I can't believe Platoon Leader is rated 4.4!!
XPunisher0221 December 2000
First of all I'd like to state my opinion that this movie does not deserve the 4.4 rating that has been thrust upon it. I read the book "Platoon Leader" by James McDoughal (I'm not sure if that's how you spell his last name), and it's one of the best "Vietnam experience" books I have ever read. Upon that note, I saw this movie at the video store and picked it up, not really knowing what to expect. Well, let me tell you that this is one of the better war out there. Especially when compared to a movie like Apocalypse Now (which is in my opinion one of the worst depictions of the situation in Vietnam ever produced). It realistically depicts the trials of a new infantry platoon leader in Vietnam as he arrives fresh out of West Point and must quickly learn the ropes of being a PL and at the same time earn the respect of his men.

Bottom line: this is a damn good movie. If you have any interest in Vietnam or war movies in general, I highly recommend it.
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5/10
Fairly Entertaining Stuff
actionpro12 August 2003
This movie is underrated probably because of the prejudices held by critics against Michael Dudikoff. Though his acting is widely thought to be mediocre (it is), he shines in this movie. "Platoon Leader" is gripping fare and deserves more respect than it currently garners. It is not just another throwaway Vietnam movie. It is, in fact, entertaining and is required viewing for any fan of action movies. 5/10
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one of Dudikoff's best
MichaelM2411 April 2002
PLATOON LEADER is one of Dudikoff's best movies, perhaps because, since it was a rare theatrical release, more attention was given to make sure it was well-done. You really get a sense of what the war in Vietnam was like for the soldiers there, with hair-raising jungle ambushes and close calls. Naturally, the guys at the base don't take too kindly to Dudikoff when he first arrives, but ultimately grow to respect him, something I've really grown tired of seeing in the movies. But the battle scenes are well-executed, the direction by Aaron Norris (Chuck's brother) nothing special but good, and the music heroic and uplifting. War movie fans should enjoy it.
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6/10
A rare good one from Cannon
BrianG19 January 2001
Most of Cannon Pictures' product is pretty much junk (they make Chuck Norris and J-C Van Damme movies, so what do you expect?), but this one is different. It doesn't have the rock-bottom cheapie look of most Cannon pictures, and the script, for once, actually makes sense (amazing, considering that Harry Alan Towers was one of the writers). The story concerns a young army lieutenant on his first combat assignment in Vietnam, and how he comes to earn the respect of his men. Michael Dudikoff is surprisingly good as the young officer who arrives at his post not knowing quite what to expect but determined to do his duty, and Robert F. Lyons is outstanding as the platoon's veteran sergeant who doesn't want a new lieutenant to get any of his men killed. The action scenes are very well staged and give you a real sense of being there, as opposed to the cardboard pyrotechnics that Cannon usually grinds out. All in all, a refreshing change from the usual Cannon crap. Recommended.
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9/10
Good look at the grunts in their back yard
jsb17330 March 2006
A Vietnam veteran who has been in the bush and actually experienced combat will tell you that this film is very close to actually being there. Having viewed almost every film made about the "Nam" this film was very well written and directed. I viewed the film with some of the guys I was with in country with and we pointed out a number of small technical flaws, such as the 173rd Airborne patch on some of the uniforms did not have the Airborne tab over it and the lack of jump wings over the US Army patch stood out. The "LT" should be taking direct orders from his company commander the captain who shows up later in the film not from a major at the battalion headquarters. Other from that the film rates high marks and we were glad to see that the military adviser was Airborne.
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Well-done and underrated
Tin Man-524 September 1999
Originally entitled "Nam," this film was released as "Platoon Leader" to cash in on the success of "Platoon," which had been released the previous year. Unfortunately, this sank it, and most everyone dismissed this is an imitation of the latter film. However, I feel that this might be one of the finest films about the Vietnam War around, and that's due to the fact that it knows the genre of war films and it knows what to take seriously and what to regard as pure action.

In war films, particularly ones about the Vietnam War, there has always been a question about which angle to approach: a human, emotional story or a pure action-adventure. This film handles the question well, and it shows us both. The film covers a new U.S. captain joining a platoon that is set up on a hill with orders to protect a small village. The story of how he must earn the right to be called the captain of such a motely group, and how the men themselves must struggle about just what they are fighting for in this war, is extremely moving. The writers choose to represent many different attitudes, all of which were present in the war: fear, reluctance, discontent, indifference, and honor. Each character is painted vividly and with wonderful acting, and through their tragedy and suffering, the viewer gets a better understanding of what went on during America's darkest hour.

On the other hand, this film also contains some nicely-directed action sequences that know how to get the heart-beat going. They don't neccessarily glorify war, but they are very Rambo-esque, and made in an effort to satisfy action fans. It is the essence of these action scenes, combined with the human characters who have to pick up the pieces of each battle and move on with their daily, emotional struggles, that really makes this film tick.

This film was directed by Chuck's brother Aaron Norris, who lost a brother to the Vietnam War. Indeed, this must have been a difficult film to shoot because of that, but he certainly paid his brother a fitting tribute in this underrated war epic.

**** out of ****
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7/10
Above AverageWar Film, That's At Times Intense And Well Made, With An Excellent Lead Performance From Dudikoff!
callanvass20 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is an above average war film, that's intense and well made, with an excellent lead performance from Dudikoff!. It's got lots of great war action, and all the characters were great, plus i really enjoyed the musical score!. It did take a little while to get going, and some of the dialog was bad, however Dudikoff is quite intense as the lead, flick, however it is quite entertaining, and even exciting at times, plus the ending was cool and very emotional. The character development wasn't too bad, and the story is pretty interesting, plus it had it's shocking moments. This is an above average war film, that's at times intense, and well made, with an excellent lead performance from as he carried the film, it also helped that the rest of the supporting cast was solid as well!. Granted it's your typical low budget War Dudikoff!. The Direction is good. Aaron Norris does a good job here, with good camera work, during the war scenes, good angles, and keeping the film at an interesting pace!. There is a bit of blood. We get lots of very gory wounds, and some gunshot wounds. The Acting is very good. Michael Dudikoff is FANTASTIC as always, and is fantastic here, he is extremely likable and intense, had good chemistry with Robert F. Lyons, and was just tons of fun to watch! (Dudikoff Rules!). Robert F. Lyons is great here, as the Sarge, he is very likable, and had good chemistry with Dudikoff i liked him lots. Michael DeLorenzo is good as the weasel. Rest of the cast do fine. Overall well worth a watch!. *** out of 5
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6/10
"There's been enough killing for one day".
mylimbo20 February 2011
After making his directorial debut with his brother Chuck Norris with "Braddock: Missing in Action III" (1988), his follow-up would be another Vietnam War feature with Cannon productions starring Michael Dudikoff. The man with the poker face. All jokes aside. Norris' presentation might feel like a poor man's version of Stone's "Platoon", but it turned out to be a very solid nitty gritty portrayal of a war that was hard for the soldiers to come to grips with (nothing but pure propaganda). The performances are acceptably creditable (Robert F Lyons, Michael DeLorenzo, Brian Libby and William Smith chew it up in a major role) and a convincing Dudikoff actually brought across some emotional weight to the part. The script really does illustrate the dramas along with the horror in some arresting scenes ("What do you say to a girl with her arm shot off?") --- especially the transformation of Dudikoff's character throughout his duty, where at the beginning he was naïve to how things work but after an incident that sees him hospitalized he returns an improved soldier, better equipped for the experience and from this starts to gain respect. Comradely is formed. Norris' direction moves at a fast clip, if quite clichéd (cue in the patriotic sounding score) but the impulsive action is competently staged and fairly exciting in its tension fuelled fire-fights with glorious slow-motion and graphic violence. Pockets here, pockets there which leads up to the big explosive assault ala "Platoon" style. Filmed in South Africa, Norris gets a real earthy and humid authenticity which has you also caught in the thick of it. Despite the low-budget it's reasonably well-presented.
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10/10
a war movie worth seeing
madeazy10 July 1999
Platoon Leader isn't a Saving Private Ryan or a Platoon type of movie, but it's a movie worth seeing. The action scenes are very well done. This movie captures the essence of what young officers in our armed forces have to go through to earn the respect of their enlisted counterparts.
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