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Waco: The Rules of Engagement (1997)

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This controversial documentary about the stand-off between an unorthodox Christian group - the Branch Davidians, under the leadership of the young, charismatic David Koresh - and the FBI ... See full summary »


Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Clive Doyle ...
Himself - Branch Davidian
Jack Harwell ...
Himself - Sheriff
Dick J. Reavis ...
Himself - Author
James D. Tabor ...
Himself - Biblical Scholar
David Thibodeau ...
Himself - Branch Davidian


This controversial documentary about the stand-off between an unorthodox Christian group - the Branch Davidians, under the leadership of the young, charismatic David Koresh - and the FBI and ATF in Waco, Texas, from February to April 1993 presents a different spin on the events from that of the United States government, which held that the Branch Davidians set the fire that destroyed their compound, and killed the vast majority of them, on April 19, 1993. Using footage from the 51 day siege, from the congressional hearings afterwards, from people involved in all aspects of the siege, and from experts technical, psychological, and religious, the movie suggests that the Branch Davidians were not a cult, but a valid religious group practicing under First Amendment freedoms who fell victim to first the ineptitude of an ATF raid designed to garner the agency positive attention and later the cruel, methodical work of the FBI, who over-saw the murder of the Davidians and then quickly covered... Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

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Plot Keywords:

branch davidian | atf | fbi | texas | fire | See All (78) »

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Release Date:

19 September 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Правила поединка  »

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Referenced in Men in Black II (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

Finding out the truth about Waco is quite grey.
1 February 2005 | by (Denmark) – See all my reviews

After watching "Waco: The Rules of Engagement" I was just sitting in disbelief of what I was witness to. A big cover up by the FBI, a massacre by gung-ho/trigger happy government agents? I clearly remember the Waco standoff, I was 17 years old at the time and watched it all on CNN. I remembered reflecting about all the children as I watched the Mount Camel compound burn in April 1993. I remember feeling sorry for the children, but clearly felt that it was the fault of their evil leader David Koresh and the other Davidians. Gazecki's film shows clearly and beyond doubt, even though it is biased, that the FBI lied over and over again. I think that this film was a big contributor to the reopening of a new investigation of the incident in 1999. The outcome of this new investigation was in some sense predictable, the judgement relied on fact that was just as grey as the facts that the Davidians presented. I was very disappointed about the verdict, because as far as I know it didn't take into account all the lying, misinformation and evidence cover-up by the FBI and other officials. Why have no one be prosecuted for hampering the work of the Texas Rangers investigators? Why were they allowed to contaminate the crime scene and bulldoze the compound shortly after the incident? These are questions that I haven't been given answers to by the government. Most importantly, what about the children? In this new investigation I haven't been informed about who was responsible for spraying the CS flammable tear-gas into a compound with many hazards for igniting this gas and I haven't found any answer to whether the children's muscles contracted due to the effects of the gas, while they were alive. If they did, I would surely think that the Janet Reno or who ever was in charge of the raid should be indicted for mass-homicide or manslaughter. The question that was raised by Gazecki, but not mentioned is; Was is a direct plan for the people in charge and their tanks to cut holes and burn the building down with intent? (a plan that would have been accomplished with 112% efficacy) or were the officials in charge so incompetent, that their were unaware of the consequence of their actions? Both are equally frightening. Even if the Davidians set fire to the compound, the officials in charge surely provided them with the opportunity to do the job. If the officials in charge knew, as they claimed, that the Davidians would set fire to the compound, why the f… did the tanks cut all the holes in the building making it into a furnace and why didn't they have plans to deal with the fire that they knew would occur? Dark questions that still won't go away The final and most relevant issue of this film, is the way that the Davidians are demonized by the government through the media, who just feeds it in to the public. I clearly remember the resentment I felt for the evil Davidians that I saw on CNN in 1993. Now that I'm older I can see a clear line of communication coming out of the government every time they are gearing up for a massacre of civilians along with the intended targets. Demonizing people with words like; "they have different unlawful values then us" "they don't enjoy freedom" and "they are a threat to our freedoms and way of life" makes them so much easier to kill……

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