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Casualties of War (1989)

R | | Crime, Drama, War | 18 August 1989 (USA)
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During the Vietnam War, a soldier finds himself the outsider of his own squad when they unnecessarily kidnap a female villager.

Director:

Brian De Palma (as Brian DePalma)

Writers:

Daniel Lang (book), David Rabe (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael J. Fox ... Eriksson
Sean Penn ... Sgt. Tony Meserve
Don Harvey ... Cpl. Thomas E. Clark
John C. Reilly ... PFC Herbert Hatcher
John Leguizamo ... PFC Antonio Diaz
Thuy Thu Le ... Oanh
Erik King ... Brown
Jack Gwaltney ... Rowan
Ving Rhames ... Lt. Reilly
Dan Martin ... Sgt. Hawthorne
Dale Dye ... Capt. Hill
Steve Larson ... Agent #1
John Linton John Linton ... Agent #2
Vyto Ruginis ... Prosecutor
Al Shannon Al Shannon ... Wilkins
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Storyline

During the Vietnam war, a girl is taken from her village by five American soldiers. Four of the soldiers rape her, but the fifth refuses. The young girl is killed. The fifth soldier is determined that justice will be done. The film is more about the realities of war, rather than this single event. Written by Colin Tinto <cst@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Inspired by a true event, that the army never saw it coming See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Vietnamese

Release Date:

18 August 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pecados de guerra See more »

Filming Locations:

San Francisco, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$22,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,201,261, 20 August 1989

Gross USA:

$18,671,317

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$18,671,317
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Extended Cut)

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is not the first film that has been made about Daniel Lang's 1969 article. In 1970, Brian De Palma was in Berlin when its film festival was closed, because German Director Michael Verhoeven had sparked controversy with his film O.K. (1970), which depicted the crime that the group of soldiers had committed. De Palma said he has tried to track the film down over the years, but has never seen it to this day. See more »

Goofs

Meserve's arm position changes when confronting the MP who will not let the group go into town. See more »

Quotes

Meserve: This is a weapon, this is a gun. This is for fighting, this is for fun.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The Extended Cut is 6 minutes longer than the original and contains 2 extra scenes. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The 100 Greatest War Films (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Time Has Come Today
Written by Joseph Chambers & Willie Chambers (as William Chambers)
Performed by The Chambers Brothers
Courtesy of CBS Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

<< Thuy Thu Le is central to its success >>
31 October 2001 | by khatcher-2See all my reviews

`Casualties of War' belongs to the same year as that other anti-war film `Born on the Fourth of July'. From about the mid-eighties American feeling rose bitterly against the aftermath of the Viet Nam war: the price had been too high. Too many young men killed or wounded and, worse perhaps, too many young men psychologically scarred for the rest of their lives. `Casualties of War' does not point any accusing fingers at anyone: the film is an anguishing account of a horrendous series of actions based on real facts. Even so, our interpretation must go a little beyond what the film tells us, what we are seeing. We must ask how many more service-men lost their nerve in the middle of that jungle inferno which was Viet Nam?

Brian de Palma obliges us to enter into that indescribable hell, so that we might, with a bit of luck, if our feelings can bear the torture of witnessing such inhumane irrationality, understand a little more the agonising palpable naked terror which so many men had to go through.

However, whether Michael J. Fox or whether Sean Penn played their part better seems to overlook an obviety: without that performance by the Vietnamese girl, Thuy Thu Le, this film would have been forgotten years ago. My first seeing of that fragile creature – some years ago – left me nauseated, my stomache churned and I had bad dreams for several nights. That pathetic little face and her screams of anguish haunted me for days afterwards. Her performance was so compelling, rivetting, anguishing, it had me hating being a man. I only just stopped short of throwing up. Perhaps nobody expresses this better than `Tony's Corner: a Fan's Notes' (www.colba.net):

<< the performance of a young actress, a woman named Thuy Thu Le. It is to my mind, one of the bravest, most courageous, and one of the most heartbreakingly real pieces of acting that I've ever seen………… the intolerable suffering that Thuy's character Oahn endures, her emotional intensity………... searing power, of blistering emotion, and raging despair, the outstanding performance of Thuy Thu Le is central to it's success >> (end partial quote)

Amen.

It is one of those performances that no Oscar can ever pay for: indeed such a triviality would have been an insult. The film is cruel, sickening, loathsome, heartbreaking; but something humane, something I can't explain, something deep inside me, compelled me to see this poor `wretch' again, compelled me to witness once again her tremendous scream of despair against the bestial inhumanity of war – any, every and all war. I have no love of morbidity: I shun such ridiculous programmes. But this poor creature called Thuy Thu Le forced me to see the film for a second time.

Enough: I will never see this film again. I have seen naked desperation and fear so realistic that my soul seethes to boiling point and is about to burst thus twice. That will do. In the end we are all casualties of war.....

No vote: I cannot reduce this to a simple vote. It just would not have any real meaning, would it?


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