11 user 5 critic

Distant Thunder (1988)

R | | Drama | 11 November 1988 (USA)
A troubled Vietnam war vet deserts his wife and child shortly after he returns from the war. He returns after 10 years, where he's been living like an animal in the forest. He finds himself... See full summary »


Rick Rosenthal


Robert Stitzel (story), Deedee Wehle (story) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Ralph Macchio ... Jack Lambert
John Lithgow ... Mark Lambert
Kerrie Keane ... Char
Reb Brown ... Harvey Nitz
Janet Margolin ... Barbara Lambert
Denis Arndt ... Larry
Jamey Sheridan ... Moss
Tom Bower ... Louis
John Kelly John Kelly ... Andy
Michael Currie ... Coach Swabey
Hilary Strang Hilary Strang ... Jane
Robyn Stevan ... Holly
David Longworth ... Sheriff
Gordon Currie ... Billy Watson
Walter Marsh ... Principal


A troubled Vietnam war vet deserts his wife and child shortly after he returns from the war. He returns after 10 years, where he's been living like an animal in the forest. He finds himself unprepared for the changes that he will have to cope with, and when the vet tries to contact his son, he realizes that he has caused more damage than he had imagined. Written by Brennan Storr

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The last echoes of war. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


John Lithgow's character (Mark Lambert) was a Navy SEAL during his service in Vietnam. See more »


The 1966 Pontiac used in the film is not a real GTO. The taillights are single pod lenses making this either a Tempest or LeMans - a real GTO has segmented taillights which spans the rear header panel with a 12 inch blank center section. Also, a real GTO has the grille emblem in the driver side grille opening (same with the final 2004-06 generation) - the emblem is on the passenger side grille (the final muscle-era GTO produced for the 1974 model year has a vinyl graphic GTO logo placed on the passenger-side header panel). See more »


Jack Lambert: I'm not going to waste all of your time so I'm just going a few words. Like all of you, I would like to move on in life. Thank you.
See more »


Once We Get Started
By Michael Watson & Johnny Elkins
Performed by Nadirah Ali
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User Reviews

Distant interest in a thinking man's Rambo
9 April 2005 | by flingebuntSee all my reviews

It was the 1980s and America (and countries like Australia who sent troops to Vietnam) were obsessed with the lives of Vietnam Veterans.

John Lithgow plays Jack, a vet who eeks out an existence in a bush camp. When his friend decides to kiss a train he thinks it is time for him to try life in the real world again.

Char yes is a lovely woman who helps him and encourages him to get in contact with his lost son, but unfortunately her boyfriend does like Jack and he heads back into the bush.

I don't really blame him when his son turns out to be Ralph Macchio (of Karate Kid fame). Still this movie has a heart, but the characters lack depth, which is not made up for by cheesy dialog.

I watched this movie because I read good reviews about it in this website.

I would say watch this with hamburger hill to get a good, but superficial look at the lives of Vietnam Vets, both in country and back home (also some of the language and phrases used in Distant thunder, such as "it don't mean nothing" make more sense after seeing Hamburger Hill).

But please don't expect too much of a humble little drama like this and you will enjoy it.

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USA | Canada



Release Date:

11 November 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Distant Thunder See more »

Filming Locations:

British Columbia, Canada See more »


Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$82,186, 13 November 1988

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

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