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We Were Soldiers (2002)

R  |   |  Action, Drama, History  |  1 March 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 96,950 users   Metascore: 65/100
Reviews: 741 user | 141 critic | 37 from Metacritic.com

The story of the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War and the soldiers on both sides that fought it.



(book) (as Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore) , (book), 1 more credit »
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1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Capt. Matt Dillon
Capt. Tom Metsker


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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


400 U.S paratroopers. 4000 Vietnamese soldiers. 12 000 miles away from home. 1 man led them into battle. See more »


Action | Drama | History | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sustained sequences of graphic war violence, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






| |

Release Date:

1 March 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Lost Patrol  »

Box Office


$75,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$20,212,543 (USA) (1 March 2002)


$495,567 (Brazil) (16 August 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (cut) | (TV)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the shot of the hospital nursery early in the movie one of the babies is named Papac, hand printed on a card attached to the bassinet. Michael Papac is the armorer for this film and given the massive scale of the arms and ammunition needed for filming, he played a central role in creating this movie. In fact, in the credits he is listed as Master Armorer and three assistants are credited as "weapons armorers." It is doubtful that any other movie has ever needed, and credited, four armorers. Naming the baby Papac so prominently was a well deserved tribute to his contributions. See more »


In the opening scene that depicts the destruction of Groupement Mobile No.100, the officers are shown wearing képis, implying that they are members of the Foreign Legion. However, there were no Legion units present. GM 100 consisted of the 1st and 2nd Korea Battalions, Battalion de Marche of the 43rd Colonial Infantry and the 2nd Group of the 10th Colonial Artillery. See more »


[first lines]
Joe Galloway: [Narrating; voice-over] 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 ...
See more »


Features Flight of the Intruder (1991) See more »


Sgt. MacKenzie
By Joseph Rizza Kilna
Performed by Joseph Rizza Kilna (as Joseph Kilna MacKenzie)
Produced by Joseph Rizza Kilna (as Joseph Kilna MacKenzie) & Seoras Wallace
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Powerful and moving, not a film for everyone however
24 February 2002 | by (Vancouver, WA) – See all my reviews

I was privileged to see a preview of Mel Gibson's new film "We Were Soldiers" based upon the book written by his real life character, Lt. Col. Harold Moore, along with Joe Galloway. I attended a showing along with numerous other Viet Nam vets and it would seem that there were as many opinions about the movie as there were viewers. Like the war itself, each person in attendance probably had some personal experiences that the movie brought back from that deep, and sometimes distant, place we have put them.

The movie was almost overwhelmingly graphical, but afterwards I realized this was instrumental in the telling of the story. For the movie is truly about the leadership that Col. Moore brought to his men of the 1st of the 7th, and his determination that they would not suffer the fate of the French in Viet Nam, nor his own unit's most infamous battle, that of Custer's Stand at Little Big Horn.

It was his determination and commitment that his men be as highly trained, as strongly molded as a unit, and most importantly as well lead as possible that stands out. This determination is obviously rooted in his deeply abiding belief that military leaders shall never forget that when they lead men into war, many of those men will never come back alive, but that those who lead shall never abandon them, even in their shared darkest hours.

And while the movie highly succeeds in conveying the horror and tragedy that war is....has been...and always shall be, it was more difficult for me to realize that our War Department and Army could have been so callous as to have delegated the responsibility of notifying next-of-kin of the death of their loved ones to the local Yellow Cab company. Then I realized that in late 1965 it was all so new and no one knew that this war was going to grow and consume so many young American lives over the next nine years.

The two most significant scenes in the movie for me were firstly, the scene when the course of the battle teeters on the brink of either disaster or success and the most important communication that Col. Moore's superiors have to convey is that General Westmoreland would like for him to leave the battlefield and fly to Saigon so the general can have a briefing. This more than anything pointed out how tragically we were doomed to failure in Viet Nam due to the political will, not the military will, being in control. The second most significant scene was in the airport where one soldier is pushing his buddy through the concourse and the voice over says..."They did not fight for God.....country.....right. They fought for each other", a fact that every Viet Nam vet would attest to.

This a movie worth seeing. It is another testament, with a worthy cinematographic effort, to the futility and absurdity of war, and how that among madness can be greatness. It is a movie that will unlikely leave the viewer devoid of emotion. What those emotions may be are as likely to be as highly personal, as the strength of their feeling.

155 of 198 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Worst scene, always ruins it for me daddymo
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It was as though the director.. dosedhost
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