IMDb > Casualties of War (1989)
Casualties of War
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Casualties of War (1989) More at IMDbPro »

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Casualties of War -- From visionary director Brian De Palma, war is war, but murder is murder. Michael J. Fox and Sean Penn star in this action-packed Vietnam war saga in which one soldier thought he had a license to kill and another dared to stand in his way.
Casualties of War -- During the Vietnam War, a soldier finds himself the outsider of his own squad when they unnecessarily kidnap a female villager.


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Up 12% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writers (WGA):
Daniel Lang (book)
David Rabe (screenplay)
View company contact information for Casualties of War on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
18 August 1989 (USA) See more »
Some Soldiers take things too far See more »
During the Vietnam War, a soldier finds himself the outsider of his own squad when they unnecessarily kidnap a female villager. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for Golden Globe. Another 3 wins & 1 nomination See more »
(52 articles)
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User Reviews:
the brutality of any war - inhumanity See more (124 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Michael J. Fox ... Eriksson

Sean Penn ... Sgt. Tony Meserve

Don Harvey ... Cpl. Thomas E. Clark

John C. Reilly ... PFC Herbert Hatcher

John Leguizamo ... PFC Antonio Diaz
Thuy Thu Le ... Oanh

Erik King ... Brown

Jack Gwaltney ... Rowan

Ving Rhames ... Lt. Reilly

Dan Martin ... Sgt. Hawthorne

Dale Dye ... Capt. Hill

Steve Larson ... Agent #1
John Linton ... Agent #2

Vyto Ruginis ... Prosecutor
Al Shannon ... Wilkins

Wendell Pierce ... MacIntire

Sam Robards ... Chaplain Kirk
Maris Valainis ... Streibig

Darren E. Burrows ... Cherry

Sherman Howard ... Court Martial President

John Marshall Jones ... M.P. (as J.J.)

Holt McCallany ... Lt. Kramer
Kady Tran ... Yen - Oahn's Sister
Scott Gregory ... Soldier Charlie 1
Ennalls Berl ... Soldier Charlie 2
Vinh Tran ... V.C. Interpreter
Somsak ... ARVN Interpreter
Hataya Sarmount ... Girl Villager
Ba Thuan T. Le ... Oahn's Mother (as Ba Thuan T Le)
Nootch ... Child Villager
Kwan ... Child Villager
J. Chalerm ... Villager Old Man Farmer
Sigma ... Villager Woman
Po Powpi ... Villager Old Man
Shaun Shea ... Soldier
Kristopher Dunn ... Soldier

Donal Gibson ... Soldier
Shane Kerwin ... Soldier
Niran ... V.C. in Tunnel
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Stephen Baldwin ... Soldier (uncredited)
Stefan Ehlers ... Sgt. Fuller (uncredited)

Amy Irving ... Voice of girl on the train (uncredited)

Michael D. Jones ... Passenger on Train (uncredited)
Jonathan MacLeod ... Soldier (uncredited)
Vic Noto ... Voice (uncredited)

Directed by
Brian De Palma  (as Brian DePalma)
Writing credits
Daniel Lang (book "Casualties of War")

David Rabe (screenplay)

Produced by
Fred C. Caruso .... co-producer (as Fred Caruso)
Art Linson .... producer
Original Music by
Ennio Morricone 
Cinematography by
Stephen H. Burum (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Bill Pankow 
Casting by
Lynn Stalmaster 
Production Design by
Wolf Kroeger 
Art Direction by
Bernard Hides  (as Bernard Hydes)
Set Decoration by
Peter Hancock 
Hugh Scaife 
Costume Design by
Richard Bruno 
Makeup Department
Paul Engelen .... makeup supervisor
Carl Fullerton .... prosthetic makeup artist: Thuy Thu Le, San Francisco
Adam Hill .... makeup effects moldmaker: Burman Studios
Mike Lockey .... hair stylist (as Michael Lockey)
Bron Roylance .... makeup supervisor: Michael J. Fox
Suzanne Stokes-Munton .... wig supervisor
Production Management
Fred C. Caruso .... unit production manager (as Fred Caruso)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Peter Bennett .... additional second assistant director
Brian W. Cook .... first assistant director
Carl Goldstein .... second second assistant director
Aldric La'auli Porter .... first assistant director: San Francisco (as Aldric Porter)
Eric Schwab .... second unit director
Annie Spiegelman .... second assistant director: San Francisco
Michael Stevenson .... second assistant director
Sompol Sungkawess .... assistant director: Thailand
Art Department
Peter Hancock .... property master
Tim Hatch .... greens supervisor
Dave Midson .... supervising dressing props
Michael O'Kane .... painter
John Patterson .... construction supervisor
Ray Pedler .... scenic artist
Sound Department
Richard P. Cirincione .... sound editor
Marko A. Costanzo .... foley artist
Lee Dichter .... sound re-recording mixer
Susan Sklar Friedman .... apprentice sound editor
Kerry Fulton .... apprentice sound editor (as Kerry Fulton-Peluffo)
Jay Kessel .... assistant sound editor
Bruce Kitzmeyer .... sound editor
George A. Lara .... foley mixer
Kevin Lee .... sound editor
Jimmy McDonough .... sound editor
Peter Odabashian .... sound editor
Mark Rathaus .... sound editor
Maurice Schell .... supervising sound editor
Leo Trombetta .... assistant sound editor
Mark J. Wasiutak .... boom operator
Gary Wilkins .... sound mixer
Special Effects by
John Baker .... special effects
Terence J. Cox .... special effects (as Terry Cox)
Yves De Bono .... special effects (as Yves DeBono)
Trevor Neighbour .... special effects
Sasisupa Sungvaribud .... special effects coordinator: Thailand
Kit West .... special effects supervisor
Trevor Wood .... special effects
Kenny Bates .... stunts (as Ken Bates)
Ralph Garrett .... stunts
Billy Hank Hooker .... stunts (as Billy H. Hooker)
Jeff Jensen .... stunt coordinator
Bob Minor .... stunts
Bernie Pock .... stunts
Chad Randall .... stunts
Danny Wong .... stunts
Charles Croughwell .... stunt double: Michael J. Fox (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Alan S. Blauvelt .... first assistant camera (as Alan Blauvelt)
Bob Bridges .... second assistant camera (as Robert Bridges)
John Clark .... best boy
Gavin Horne .... set grip
W.C. 'Chunky' Huse .... key grip (as 'Chunky' Huse)
Larry McConkey .... steadicam operator
Roland Neveu .... still photographer
Douglas Ryan .... camera operator (as Doug Ryan)
Laurie Shane .... chief lighting technician
Danny Shelmerdine .... first assistant camera
Tony Turner .... dolly grip
Casting Department
Nancy Hayes .... extras casting
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Julia Mansford .... costume supervisor
Laurie Riley .... costume supervisor
Mutita Na Songkla .... wardrobe supervisor
Editorial Department
Gary Burritt .... negative cutter
Phil Hetos .... color timer
Anne McCabe .... apprentice film editor
Debra C. Victoroff .... assistant editor
Music Department
Sergio Marcotulli .... music mixer
Ennio Morricone .... conductor
Ennio Morricone .... orchestrator
John Beal .... composer: trailer (uncredited)
Sergio Marcotulli .... music engineer (uncredited)
Transportation Department
Tommy Tancharoen .... transportation coordinator
Other crew
Sallie Beechinor .... production coordinator
Alison Dickey .... assistant: Sean Penn
Terry Dunn .... assistant accountant
Dale Dye .... technical advisor
Ray Freeborn .... location manager
Nigel Goldsack .... co-unit location manager
Monica Goldstein .... assistant: Mr. DePalma
Ray Kybartas .... trainer: Sean Penn
Erica Laine-Walian .... assistant: Michael J. Fox
John Linson .... production assistant
Elyse A. Mayberry .... production office coordinator: Burbank (as Elyse Mayberry)
Golda Offenheim .... production office coordinator: London
Ross Reynolds .... helicopter pilot
Sioux Richards .... script supervisor
Deborah Ricketts .... research coordinator
Patti Roberts-Nelson .... assistant: Mr. Linson (as Patti Roberts Nelson)
Brigette Roux-Lough .... assistant: Michael J. Fox
Adele Sanders .... production accountant
Maurice Schell .... adr loop group
Linda Shapiro .... assistant accountant
Ed Sienkaniec .... catering supervisor (as Ed 'Bubba' Steinkaniec)
Art Smith Jr. .... technical advisor: military
Mike Stokey .... technical advisor: military (as Michael Stokey)
Doug Taylor .... unit publicist
Vivian Treves .... interpreter: Ennio Morricone

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
113 min | USA:121 min (extended version)
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) | Dolby (35 mm prints)

Did You Know?

The scene of the movie on the "train" where Eriksson sees the girl's scarf, which she left, grabs it, gets off, and gives it back to her, was shot in San Francisco. That "train" they were riding is actually a San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority ("MUNI") streetcar, on the J-Church line. Where they got off the streetcar is Delores Park.See more »
Continuity: Meserve's arm position changes when confronting the MP who will not let the group go into town.See more »
Eriksson:Can you imagine that? You escape Viet Nam and you die from an airline fatality.
Clark:Never happen, Cherry. You survive the Nam, you get to live forever, man.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Hold On I'm ComingSee more »


What year does this movie take place?
What are the differences between the Theatrical Version and the Extended Version?
See more »
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful.
the brutality of any war - inhumanity, 21 February 2010
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States

Casualties of War is one of the most powerful anti-war movies. Note that I didn't mention Vietnam in that sentence, but just anti-war, period. Around the time of the mid to late 1980s many Vietnam war movies were flying out, The Killing Fields, Platoon, and best of them (not counting Apocalypse Now from the 70s) was Full Metal Jacket. What a lot of these movies have in common though is that they're not simply about Vietnam, but about the war experience. Of course sometimes the context of the times has to be taken in, such as it being the 'baby-boomer' generation where drugs and rock and roll were apart of the down-time. That and getting some Vietnam women for sex on the side. The themes are meant to be universal, or at least capture the nature of a platoon mind-set, of what it's like to be a soldier.

Brian De Palma's film is set in Vietnam, like those films, but it could take place during any war. It peels an uncomfortable layer of the soldier's experience that does need to be told - it's not pretty, it's not sentimental, it is what it is. Some soldiers during wars, not just Vietnam but others, take out casualties that are not really the enemies. And for De Palma the brutal rape and murder of a girl, an innocent one, was just such a horrible story that needed to be told. His film is full of heartfelt emotion, but it doesn't show on the actor's faces, save for Michael J. Fox. It's about an ugly subject, and so the actors (Sean Penn, John C. Reilly, John Leguizamo) play precisely unsympathetic characters, to one degree or another. They don't start out that way though, and that makes it too complex to ignore as a polemic.

It's about a squad, led by Penn's Sergeant, who decides to take a leave for a short while of the usual soldier duties to take a girl into the jungle and rape and murder her. Fox's PFC thinks he's kidding, but boy he isn't. They drag her miles and miles, and it becomes a morality play. Again, this is complicated: earlier in the film we saw two crucial things, that Penn's character saved Fox from death by the enemy in a tight spot, and that one of the squad's best people gets killed quite suddenly as everyone's just standing around talking (this is, truly, a shocking moment to have in any film from it coming at a mundane moment). He doesn't start off rotten, Penn's Sergeant, nor even the other guys like Don Harvey's Chuck, but as they get closer to the inevitable situation "out there" as they say, it takes on a ghastly inhumanity, and the kind of peer pressure that one might see in a DARE drug video, only here there's no messing around. Especially in the aftermath, with a "don't care" policy the army takes, for at least a little while.

Casualties of War is skillfully directed and unflinching in its emotional reach. When we see Fox, in some desperation of not being able to save the Vietnamese girl from the rape, try to help her and, subsequently, fail to escape, it's really shocking. Not because of what doesn't happen, per-say, but that after all of these scenes of the troop in this group-think, and the torture of this woman, there's humanity again, or something close to it (it was hard for me not to tear up a little when he finally communicated with her, "Mama-san"). But, interestingly, De Palma and his actors don't need to do all of the heavy lifting in the dramatic department. Ennio Morricone comes on in many scenes with a musical score that, in a way, confronts the audience. Do we dare not be moved when the music swells? Is it manipulative? Possibly. But it takes a master like Morricone to do it so well in this context - only Days of Heaven can come close or top it to its haunting elegy of the heart.

This is an important film to look at, and it hasn't dated. Not to mention a fantastic performance from Michael J. Fox, whose subtlety in many scenes, his restraint, his character's face just pained in looking on at the horror of the situation unfolding, is just as great, if not more convincing, than Penn's surly hero-cum-villain. Another war is hell movie? Sure, but directed and acted with a modicum of believability and humanity.

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