A Navy navigator is shot down over enemy territory and is ruthlessly pursued by a secret police enforcer and the opposing troops. Meanwhile his commanding officer goes against orders in an attempt to rescue him.
In a place soon to be known as The Valley of Death, in a football field-sized clearing called landing zone X-Ray, Lt. Colonel Hal Moore and 400 young troopers from the newly formed 1/7th Cavalry Regiment of the US 1st "Air" Cavalry Division were surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers dug into the tunnel warren mountainside. The ensuing battle was one of the most savage in U.S. history and is portrayed here as the signal encounter between the American and North Vietnamese armies. We Were Soldiers Once... And Young is a tribute to the nobility of those men under fire, their common acts of uncommon valor, and their loyalty to and love for one another. Written by
PHD in CT USA
The closing music, "Mansions of The Lord", has become the unofficial Army funeral hymn. It was used as the recessional at President Ronald Reagan's funeral. See more »
SPOILER. The air strikes that supported the bayonet charge (to clear the area around the landing zone toward the end) were done by fixed-wing A-1E Skyraider aircraft rather than the Huey helicopters flown by Snake Crandall and Too Tall Freeman. It would have been impossible for the ground crews to change the configuration of the Hueys from "Slick" (troop carrier) to "Hog" (gunship) and back in the time frame depicted, especially with the nearly nonstop flying that Crandall and Freemen did. See more »
These are the true events of November, 1965, the Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam, a place our country does not remember, in a war it does not understand. This story's a testament to the young Americans who died in the valley of death, and a tribute to the young men of the People's Army of Vietnam who died by our hand in that place. To tell this story, I must start at the beginning. But where does it begin? Maybe in June of 1954 when French Group Mobile 100 moved ...
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A list of the names of the actual men who died during the battle as well as the city and state where they are from is featured before the ending credits. See more »
`Saving Private Ryan' redefined the war genre and opened the floodgates to a new generation of war movies. It pushed the boundaries of acceptability by frankly showing war in all its grisly glory. As such it gave us a better understanding of how terrible and frightening war is. `Black Hawk Down' took the graphic violence to a new level, with an intensity that matched the beach landing of SPR, but of a duration that was almost unbearable.
`We Were Soldiers' is the latest big budget war offering from Hollywood. In many ways, I consider this to be the most complete of the three. Writer/Director Randall Wallace (who wrote "Braveheart", "Pearl Harbor" and the screenplay for this film), takes the understanding of war to the next level, by offering more than one perspective to the events. Of the three films, this film has the best workup, the best character development, and the most nuanced look at the battle. He brings all the sustained intensity of BHD in the action sequences, but introduces the NVA perspective, the wives' perspective and a far more charismatic and heroic central figure in Lt. Col. Hal Moore.
Based on real events, this film shows war as being horrendous and heartless to both sides. It expands outside the combat zone to visit the ramifications on the families as well. The scenes with the wives getting the telegrams are poignant reminders of how war reaches beyond the battlefield. Wallace's treatment grabs us on an emotional level and shocks the senses. Unlike BHD, which presented the characters in a very anonymous way, we come to know these characters and their families and identify with them.
Of course, the film lacks the hard edge that would make it starkly believable. It is after all a Hollywood production and not a documentary. However, Wallace pours enough realism into the depictions to assure that this doesn't turn into another sappy melodrama like `Pearl Harbor', which was really nothing more than a romance with a long battle scene in the middle. Wallace finds the optimal balance between engaging storytelling and the brutality of combat.
The acting is excellent. Mel Gibson offers the right combination of hard nosed officer and father figure (both to his children and his men). Gibson is steadfast and courageous without being harsh. His portrayal of Moore is so well played, so charismatic and heroic, that it is impossible to believe that such a person could actually exist.
Sam Elliot follows an outstanding performance in `The Contender' with this gem as Sergeant Major Plumley, the tough as nails warhorse who serves as Moore's non commissioned adjutant. Elliot plays the intransigent career soldier to the hilt, where nothing including life itself is more important than honor and discipline. Barry Pepper also turns in a fine performance as Joe Galloway, the photo journalist who hops on a helicopter to take pictures in the center of the battle and finds himself with a rifle in his hands fighting for his life.
This is among the best war films in recent memory and probably the best film on the Vietnam War film since `Full Metal Jacket'. I rated it a 10/10. This film is not for everyone. It contains graphic violence and disturbingly realistic battle scenes. It is a gripping and distressing film that should be required viewing for statesmen and generals alike.
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