Casualties of War (1989)

R  |   |  Drama, History, War  |  18 August 1989 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 31,855 users  
Reviews: 125 user | 67 critic

During the Vietnam War, a soldier finds himself the outsider of his own squad when they unnecessarily kidnap a female villager.


(as Brian DePalma)


(book), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Thuy Thu Le ...
Lt. Reilly
Capt. Hill
Agent #1
John Linton ...
Agent #2
Al Shannon ...


During the Vietnam war, a girl is taken from her village by five American soldiers. Four of the soldiers rape her, but the fifth refuses. The young girl is killed. The fifth soldier is determined that justice will be done. The film is more about the realities of war, rather than this single event. Written by Colin Tinto <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Even in war... murder is murder. See more »


Drama | History | War


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

18 August 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Verdammten des Krieges  »

Box Office


$22,500,000 (estimated)


$18,671,317 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Extended Cut)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


During filming many of the actors became sick because their immune systems were not used to the food in Thailand. Michael J. Fox said that after recovering, his stomach was then strong enough to eat anything. See more »


Clark sings a line from the Doors' song, "Hello I Love You", to Oanh while marching. "Hello, I Love You" was originally released as a single in June 1968. However, the events portrayed in the film happened in 1966. See more »


Capt. Hill: You couldn't let it rest, could you? You had to push it?
Eriksson: Go to hell. SIR.
See more »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Laura Leighton/Rancid (1995) See more »


Everybody Loves Somebody
Written by Irving Taylor & Ken Lane
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

<< Thuy Thu Le is central to its success >>
31 October 2001 | by (La Rioja, Spain) – See all my reviews

`Casualties of War' belongs to the same year as that other anti-war film `Born on the Fourth of July'. From about the mid-eighties American feeling rose bitterly against the aftermath of the Viet Nam war: the price had been too high. Too many young men killed or wounded and, worse perhaps, too many young men psychologically scarred for the rest of their lives. `Casualties of War' does not point any accusing fingers at anyone: the film is an anguishing account of a horrendous series of actions based on real facts. Even so, our interpretation must go a little beyond what the film tells us, what we are seeing. We must ask how many more service-men lost their nerve in the middle of that jungle inferno which was Viet Nam?

Brian de Palma obliges us to enter into that indescribable hell, so that we might, with a bit of luck, if our feelings can bear the torture of witnessing such inhumane irrationality, understand a little more the agonising palpable naked terror which so many men had to go through.

However, whether Michael J. Fox or whether Sean Penn played their part better seems to overlook an obviety: without that performance by the Vietnamese girl, Thuy Thu Le, this film would have been forgotten years ago. My first seeing of that fragile creature – some years ago – left me nauseated, my stomache churned and I had bad dreams for several nights. That pathetic little face and her screams of anguish haunted me for days afterwards. Her performance was so compelling, rivetting, anguishing, it had me hating being a man. I only just stopped short of throwing up. Perhaps nobody expresses this better than `Tony's Corner: a Fan's Notes' (

<< the performance of a young actress, a woman named Thuy Thu Le. It is to my mind, one of the bravest, most courageous, and one of the most heartbreakingly real pieces of acting that I've ever seen………… the intolerable suffering that Thuy's character Oahn endures, her emotional intensity………... searing power, of blistering emotion, and raging despair, the outstanding performance of Thuy Thu Le is central to it's success >> (end partial quote)


It is one of those performances that no Oscar can ever pay for: indeed such a triviality would have been an insult. The film is cruel, sickening, loathsome, heartbreaking; but something humane, something I can't explain, something deep inside me, compelled me to see this poor `wretch' again, compelled me to witness once again her tremendous scream of despair against the bestial inhumanity of war – any, every and all war. I have no love of morbidity: I shun such ridiculous programmes. But this poor creature called Thuy Thu Le forced me to see the film for a second time.

Enough: I will never see this film again. I have seen naked desperation and fear so realistic that my soul seethes to boiling point and is about to burst thus twice. That will do. In the end we are all casualties of war.....

No vote: I cannot reduce this to a simple vote. It just would not have any real meaning, would it?

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