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West Point graduate lieutenant Jeff Knight meets cynicism when taking command of sergeant Michael McNamara's tour veterans platoon in a Vietnamese trench camp. Unlike his predecessor, who hid till the end of his tour, Jeff takes charge, experiences the manual doesn't allow coping with all realities and gets wounded. He returns, now fully respect by men and superiors. Besides the Vietcong, the platoon wrestles with the inscrutable villagers, which the GIs officially protect, but also fear as some collaborate with them, other covertly with the Cong, either way subject to bloody reprisals.Written by
I guess to capitalize on the critical and financial success of Oliver Stone's Platoon, this other film Platoon Leader was made. Though hardly a classic, Platoon Leader is a film with grit and guts like it took to be in Vietnam and never knowing who to trust.
Michael Dudikoff is the newly minted lieutenant straight from West Point where classes on classic military theory don't prepare you for jungle warfare in Vietnam. But he's a quick learner and not eager to breakdown and spend the war in the dugout the way his predecessor did.
Like Platoon the men don't respect the newby until he's bloodied. Once he is and shows willingness to learn he earns the respect of platoon sergeant Robert F. Lyons on down.
In addition to Platoon some aspects of John Wayne's Green Berets are seen in Platoon Leader. The night attack on the base by the Viet Cong scene is almost a copy of one from Green Berets.
I should also single out Michael DeLorenzo who gets through his days in Vietnam with a little help from illegal pharmaceuticals. He's a most unmilitary soldier and his is a tragic end.
The best war films are usually with lots of historical perspective after the conflict. Platoon Leader is no exception.
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