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Three Kings (1999)

In the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, four soldiers set out to steal gold that was stolen from Kuwait, but they discover people who desperately need their help.

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8 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Captain Said (as Said Taghmaoui)
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Marsha Horan ...
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Storyline

A small group of adventurous American soldiers in Iraq at the end of the Gulf War are determined to steal a huge cache of gold reputed to be hidden somewhere near their desert base. Finding a map they believe will take them to the gold, they embark on a journey that leads to unexpected discoveries, enabling them to rise to a heroic challenge that drastically changes their lives. Written by imran

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

gold | kuwait | map | iraq | gulf war | See All (147) »

Taglines:

In a war without heroes they are kings See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for graphic war violence, language and some sexuality | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

1 October 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Spoils of War  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$75,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$15,847,636 (USA) (1 October 1999)

Gross:

$60,652,036 (USA) (11 February 2000)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

David O. Russell never wanted George Clooney for the lead role, accepting him only after his first choices Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, Nicolas Cage, Jack Nicholson, and Dustin Hoffman all turned down the part. As a result, his relationship with Clooney was tense during filming. Clooney noted that "there's an element of David that was in way over his head... he was vulnerable and selfish, and it would manifest itself in a lot of yelling." When Russell's frustration would lead to outbursts, Clooney would take it upon himself to defend crew members and extras, leading to increased tensions. When an extra had an epileptic seizure on set, Clooney ran to his aid, while Russell apparently remained indifferent to the matter. Afterward, Clooney criticized Russell for ignoring the incident, though Russell later stated that he was busy setting up a shot some yards away from the extra and was not aware that the extra had suffered a seizure. Another on-set conflict between the two arose while shooting footage on a Humvee with a camera mounted to it. Clooney recalls Russell yelling at the driver to drive faster. Clooney then approached the director, telling him to "knock it off". Russell remembers the incident differently: "The camera broke, we were losing the day and I was upset about that. So I jumped off the truck and I was like, 'Fuck!' I was just kicking the dirt and everything like that, and then George had this big thing about defending the driver, whom I hadn't really said anything to." During the shoot, Clooney was exhausted, as he was still shooting ER (1994) in Los Angeles three days a week, while working on the film the other four. Regardless, Clooney was determined to stay with the role. Loyal to the script, Clooney helped convince executives to support certain aspects of the film (such as the exploding cow scene) even after he was urged to drop out of production, as his contract called for his compensation with or without his decision to stay in the film. After several arguments, Clooney wrote Russell a letter that criticized Russell's behavior in a last attempt to make peace between the two, a few days before another fight would break out during the filming of the movie's finale. In it, the three lead characters attempt to escort Iraqi rebels across the border to Iran. There were numerous actors and extras in the scene, as well as other elements, such as helicopters flying overhead, and landing in the center of the location. The fight began after an extra was having difficulty throwing Ice Cube's character to the ground. After several takes, Russell came to the extra and put him through the motions of the action. Some individuals present on the set during the incident state that Russell was simply showing the extra how to convincingly act in the scene. However, Clooney and others thought that Russell had violently thrown the extra to the ground. Clooney recalls: "We were trying to get a shot and then he went berserk. He went nuts on an extra." Clooney approached Russell and began criticizing him again, coming to the extra's defense. The two began shouting at one another before entering a physical fight. Second Assistant Director Paul Bernard was so fed up with the experience when the fight broke out, that he put down his camera and walked off the set, effectively quitting. Clooney concludes, "Will I work with David ever again? Absolutely not. Never. Do I think he's tremendously talented and do I think he should be nominated for Oscars? Yeah." Russell offered a different view, saying "We're both passionate guys who are the two biggest authorities on the set," and maintaining that the two continue to be friends. Ice Cube felt the conflict helped the film, saying "It kind of kicked the set into a different gear, where everybody was focused and we finished strong. I wouldn't mind if the director and the star got into an argument on all of my movies." Though the fight was initially kept under wraps, both Russell and Clooney eventually gave official statements saying that the argument had blown over, and neither harbored any ill will towards the other. However, Clooney continued to describe the event in later interviews, as well as the cover story of the October 2003 issue of Vanity Fair, in which he states: "I would not stand for him humiliating and yelling and screaming at crew members, who weren't allowed to defend themselves. I don't believe in it, and it makes me crazy. So my job was then to humiliate the people who were doing the humiliating." Executive Producer and Production Manager Gregory Goodman later stated about Clooney's comments in the media, "It doesn't reflect well on Clooney. It's like some stupid sandbox quarrel." In early 2012, Clooney indicated that he and Russell had mended their relationship, saying "We made a really, really great film, and we had a really rough time together, but it's a case of both of us getting older. I really do appreciate the work he continues to do, and I think he appreciates what I'm trying to do." See more »

Goofs

When Mark Wahlberg's character is interrogated by Saïd Taghmaoui's character in the bunker, Taghmaoui tells him that "the black man make the hair straight and the skin white," but in 1991 (the time period at which the movie's action takes place), Michael Jackson still had curly hair and relatively "medium"-colored skin - in contrast to his appearance in 1998/1999, when the movie was actually made, it was then that Michael Jackson had significantly changed his appearance to "look white." See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Troy Barlow: Are we shooting?
Soldier: What?
Troy Barlow: Are we shootin' people or what?
Soldier: Are we shooting?
Troy Barlow: That's what I'm asking you!
Soldier: What's the answer?
Troy Barlow: I don't know the answer! That's what I'm trying to find out!
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Crazy Credits

For Sergeant Major Jim Parker, 1946 - 1998 See more »

Connections

Referenced in X2 (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

In God's Country
Music by U2
Lyrics by Bono and The Edge
Performed by U2
Courtesy of The Island Records Ltd./PolyGram International Music B.V.
Under License from Universal Music Special Markets
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

One of the freshest and most subversive Hollywood movies in years! A modern classic.
19 November 2002 | by (Perth, Australia) – See all my reviews

I spend most of my time bitching at just how mindless and cliched most movies released by Hollywood are, so it's always a pleasant surprise when a 'Pulp Fiction' or a 'Boogie Nights' or an 'American Beauty' gets released and makes me eat my words. 'Three Kings' deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as those very fine movies, but what a left field surprise this one was! As much as I enjoyed David O. Russell's previous movies 'Spanking The Monkey' and 'Flirting With Disaster', I never would have expected him to be capable of making a movie as fresh and original as this! Easily overlooked, it very cleverly manages to work simultaneously as an action/adventure, and a comedy, and a wonderfully subversive lesson in recent political history. Who would have thought? The other surprise is just how fine the motley cast is. TV heart throb Clooney, rappers turned actors Wahlberg and Ice Cube, and video director Jonze. All are much better than anyone would have the right to expect, and are supported by some strong performances from the likes of Cliff Curtis ('Once Were Warriors'), Nora Dunn ('The Last Supper'), Jamie Kennedy ('Scream') and especially Said Taghmaoui ('La Haine'), the latter in a role that should have made him an international star. 'Three Kings' is in my opinion a modern classic and one of the very best movies of the last ten years. I can't recommend this one highly enough!


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