Anyone who fought in Vietnam can tell you that the war bore little resemblance to this propagandistic action film starring and codirected by John Wayne. But the film itself is not nearly as bad as its reputation would sugg... more »est; critics roasted its gung-ho politics while ignoring its merits as an exciting (if rather conventional and idealistic) war movie. Some notorious mistakes were made--in the final shot, the sun sets in the east!--and it's an awkward attempt to graft WWII heroics onto the Vietnam experience. But as the Duke's attempt to acknowledge the men who were fighting and dying overseas, it's a rousing film in which Wayne commands a regiment on a mission to kidnap a Viet Cong general. David Janssen plays a journalist who learns to understand Wayne's commitment to battling Communism, and Jim Hutton (Timothy's dad) plays an ill-fated soldier who adopts a Vietnamese orphan. --Jeff Shannon« less
Excellent war movie, the defense of the Special Forces camp is very good. Consider the political basis a good counterbalance to all the Vietnam movies that painted American GIs as scum and the US as a corrupt empire. As Siskel and Ebert said later, at least Wayne put his money where his mouth was during the Vietnam War, not afterwards when it was safe and popular to criticize it. Despite a few glaring errors, it has a good cast, firm basis on Robin Moore's book, and is still popular among today's Special Forces.
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Take that, Uncle Ho!
M. G Watson | Los Angeles | 02/28/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you ever read Gustav Hasford's "The Short-Timers" (which "Full Metal Jacket" was based on) you know how he felt about this movie: "Let's watch the Duke and Mr. Sulu karate-chop Victor Charlie in a Kodicolor fantasy about Vietnam." In other words, he thought it was bunk. So does everyone else on the left, who have bought into the myth that Vietnam was a purely guerilla war and that the human-wave assaults employed by the NVA/VC on Col. Kirby's camp in the film would never have happened in real life. In point of fact almost 90% of the fighting in Vietnam was of the conventional type in the Central Highlands or the valleys ("We Were Soldiers") while only 10% of the troops were employed in the rice paddies you see in movies like "Platoon." Whenever the NVA fought out in the open, a la the Tet Offensive, they were well and truly beaten, but their leadership was ruthless and understood that by trading 5 Vietnamese lives for one American, the U.S. will to fight would eventually break. They knew the American public had only tepid support for Vietnam and would not accept the losses. The result, of course, we all know. Hanoi Jane what she wanted and so did Uncle Ho. Too bad Jane didn't go back in say, 1975 and spend some time in a re-education camp. They could have taken pics of her in a tiger cage, eating bugs and rotting from typhus.If you are reading this you probably know the story of the movie.
John Wayne's Col. Kirby and his elite Special Forces "A" Team (no, not the one with Hannibal and Face and B.A. Barracus)is sent to Vietnam to establish base camps which offer protection to the local farmers from the murderous Viet Cong (whose crimes against their own people are well documented here). The soldiers teach the locals how to fight while providing basic medical care and 20th century improvements to their primeval way of life. There is the usual big John Wayne type battle as the VC try to overrun the camp, followed by a commando raid deep into enemy territory, and a tragic-heroic ending. But the movie is more than the sum of its parts. It is not mere entertainment, it is personal propiganda, designed to present the Duke's argument for why America was fighting in Vietnam at all. The only failing is its sappiness and jingoism, which make it easy for opponents to ridicule. But making fun of it doesn't take away the fact that the Duke's argument was based on something he is rarely credited for -- human decency. What "right" did we have in Vietnam? I guess the same "right" we had to land on the beaches of Normandy. We had no "right" at all -- it was just the "right thing to do", to support a bad government (South Vietnam) against a much worse government (North Vietnam) that used methods like mass killings of teachers, civil servants, nuns, missionaries, and village chiefs to destabilze the South and forcibly unite the country. You can argue about the legitimacy of taking sides in a civil war all day, but any country that uses methods like burying people alive and raping women to death as a matter of military policy probably deserves to be opposed, yes?Anyway, let me take a moment to say I LOVE THIS FREAKIN' MOVIE. Growing up, good old Washington D.C. Channel 20 (remember when you only had ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and your one local channel? Channel 20 was ours) played this movie, (along with "The Battle of the Bulge" and "The Bridge at Remagen" and some other classics) about once every other day. Even the thought of it brings a smile to my face. Here was a guy, John Wayne, who had the guts to make a film this flag-shakingly right wing at a time when patriotism was growing unfashionable and millions of people were abandoning and spitting on the ideals that he embodied -- which, by the way, a few of us still hold true. As a movie, "The Green Berets" has a hard ideology of anti-communism and shows the newfangled Special Forces as a sort of elite brotherhood consecrated to fight against it. I think a lot of the hate directed against this movie comes from the surity of Kirby's (meaning John Wayne's) beliefs. They are rock-solid and not up for debate or negotiation. He understands what will (and did) happen to Vietnam if the North wins the war, and fights bitterly to prevent this from happening, while simultaneously trying to win over a stubborn journalist who has legitimate doubts about our involvement. No question, this movie is jingoistic and predictable, a Vietnam war movie packed in WWII casing, but who cares?"
Jonathan M. Norberg | Grand Forks, ND | 07/08/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ok, this movie is not very popular in some circles, and it's not highly regarded in any film critic circles, BUT I like this movie. Why would I like a movie this unpopular? Because it portrays a part of the war that we don't often get to see. Hey, it's highly anti-communist, and it shows why our men were dedicated to fighting against it. The war was very cruel, and many things that happened were not good, but our men were fighting for the freedom of men--not just the Vietnamese, but the whole free world that was being threatened by Communism. I think that the way our soldiers were treated coming back was disgraceful, and I'm thankful for a movie like this that actually portrays them as the heroes they are. This allows me to overlook some of the weaknesses of the movie. If you are a film critic don't even bother with this, but if you like patriotism, hate communism, and like seeing the good guys beat up some bad guys you'll enjoy this movie!"
The Truth Hurts Some People
Eric Howard | kansas city, mo. United States | 12/13/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie at the drive in when I was 7 and never forgot it. After a tour with the 82nd Airborne I joined the reserves and served with a Special Forces unit and met men who lived what this movie portrays. I've read reviews that said that this movie ignored politics and remade WW2 and westerns as a VN movie. What movie did they see? The opening scene alone endured this movie to SF veterans. Actor Aldo Ray (WW2 Frogman vet) tells why the US was in VN and dumps a case of ammo on David Jensen's newsman. This movie attacks politics head on. As far as being a remade western, that was the truth of the war, those camps called "fort Appache" or what ever, actually existed. The movie has been called a propoganda film, yet the Special Forces did, as the movie protrays, treat the local population with medical care and the Viet Cong did, as the movie portrays, murder villagers who denied them aid. The movie has cliches but in this case there is truth. One of the problems with this movie is that what made Special Forces in VN so special was still classified and much of the Robin Moore Book that it inspired was outdated for the time the movie portrays. The VC general driving around the jungle in a staff car comes to mind. I call this a great bad movie because there are some unexcuseable flubs in this movie, which one would not expect from a John Wayne major motion picture. Scenes that draw hoots, even from those that love it, are the scene where SGT Provos gets shot in the chest point blank from a 50 Cal and lives long enough to drink a shot with the duke before dying. What trooper wouldn't want to go out like that. The special effects are inferior such as the helicopter crash and some of the pyhrotechs, and let's not forget the poor point man with the plastic metal M16, turns out he didn't need it anyway, as he demonstrated some fine hand to hand moves. Some people complain about the many pine trees in the film, I've never been to VN but I've been to Okinawa and I saw a lot of pine trees there so I'll let that go. This film shows strong Americans helping the weak and that was the truth. Many laugh that in the final scene the sun sets over the ocean which is on the east coast in VN. That's okay because THEIR BASE WAS ON A SMALL PENINSULIA."
S. Sutherlin | California | 08/09/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You know the whole Vietnam war has many different aspects to it, ranging from good to bad. The good was the efforts American fighting men made in following their orders to do what they thought was right. This movie symbolized this better than most movies have, even from the WWII era. The song The Green Berets is one that still brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. A friend of mine was a Lt. Col. in the Green Berets, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for the effort that he, and his fellow soldiers, made. Who else but John Wayne could have made this movie and given it the glory it so richly deserved."