Remembering those who are still over there........
Kyle Tolle | Phoenix, Arizona USA | 05/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Over the years we have had Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Siege of Firebase Gloria, Rambo II, Hamburger Hill and other Vietnam war movies. These movies showed the harrowing, gritty, and savage aspects that the Vietnam war doled out on soldiers.Now, what about those soldiers that did not come home? Those soldiers that were left behind? Those soldiers that the U.S. Government did not think were worth rescuing because it was not politically feasible? Well, that brings us to Uncommon Valor.This is a movie about Prisoners of War who were not forgotten by a group of Veterans who put aside everything, put themselves in harms way, and dared to defy the U.S. Government to do the right thing and bring those soldiers home.We have Gene Hackman who is the retired Army colenel risking all to find his son and bring him home. Very powerful portayal here by Hackman who is determined to surmount all obstacles and do whatever is necessary and lead his group of men to find the prisoners. Fred Ward, in a very good role, is an ex-tunnel rat that is still very haunted by a quite traumatic experience he had in a tunnel in Vietnam replete with vivid nightmares. Just as Hackmans character is still haunted by nightmares from the Korean war. Ward, accepting his fears and the trials and tribulations to follow, knows that they cannot leave POW's behind.Randall "Tex" Cobb is another one recruited who never quite regained touch with society after the war but is admirable in the way that he gives everything in his soul to make sure this mission is a success. Reb Brown, not a widely known actor as compared to some other characters in this movie, does a fine job as a demolitons expert who gives his life to ensure the success of bringing the boys home.Patrick Swayze is the young but tough-as-nails ex-Marine who will go to Hell and back to be part of this mission due to his father being shot down in Vietnam and who is Missing in Action. When the other Veterans learn of Swayze's fathers status, they adopt Swayze as one of their own and Swayze does an excellent turn as an inexperienced but very, very determined team player.Tim Thomerson and Harold Sylvster are the helicopter pilots that absolutely refuse to quit, and, no matter what the odds, they will fly that team and those POW's out of danger no matter what it takes. Both give excellent performances as great pilots under heavy stress.Lastly we have Robert Stack who, like Gene Hackman's character, has a son who is missing in action and has a vested interest in this mission. Stack finances the whole operation and holds his ground when he is threatened by officials within the government to call off the mission. Stack portrays his part very nicely.This movie is truly excellent and sends a very clear and decisive message. The United States government thinks it is not worth the effort or politics or trouble to retrieve men lost in a very ugly and very horrifying war. After what those men have been through in the war and in a prison camp, it is worth every dollar, every ounce of pain, every drop of sweat, every tear shed and every conviction of what is right to go and get those men out of that Hell hole and bring them home. There should be no hesitation whatsoever. You DO NOT leave anyone behind.......ever. I would give this movie 10 stars if I could."
Above and Beyond most other Vietnam movies
Rottenberg's rotten book review | nyc | 02/22/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Colonel Cal Rhodes (Gene Hackman), US Army (ret) is the last of a long line of dedicated, if doomed, military officers. Haunted by visions that his son, a Vietnam War MIA, might still be alive in some camp in SE Asia, and with the backing of a Perot-ish entrepreneur (Robert Stack), he assembles a motley crew of former special forces officers for an ad-hoc search-and-rescue mission into Laos. The vets, who've settled into civilian life (all walks) are reluctant, but Hackman manages to sell them - we lost, and in America, that's like going bankrupt, he tells them. That's unacceptable (this movie came out, what, 1985?) The film has two phases, preparing the vets for their return to combat readiness, and the final mission itself.I didn't want to see this flick when it came out, thinking it would be some screed right out of Soldier of Fortune, with Hollywood trying to bring its make-believe to a war that didn't want it. Instead, "Uncommon Valor" excels - mostly because it eschews most of what would soon become normal for the Rambo movies. The troops here aren't cold-calculating super-warriors who speak in hushed-Sly Stallone tones, and the Vietnamese aren't sidekicks who speak pidgin. Instead, the vets are rusty and reluctant. As Sailor, Randal "Tex" Cobb (who appears barechested thruought, wears a hand grenade and sleeps through Co. Rhodes' chinese firedrills) plays the least adjusted, and most combat ready of the vets, and it isn't clear how much he's there for comic relief or just there to remind how many vets hadn't readjusted to civilian life. His opposite is Pat Swayze, an ex-marine (4th Recon Division, Rhodes tells us) who was too young to have served, but has his own reasons for having to go. Also on board are Fred Ward, and Reb Brown - the latter playing a prodigy on the subject of mines and other explosives who doesn't let the incendiary nature of his craft keep him from bringing a Mr. Rogers bent to the show. ("Today boys and girls...") Though quickly getting up to speed, they remain rusty through the film, unsure of themselves and completely mortal. When the CIA intercepts the crew (the vanguard for the complacent politicians who lost no sons or brothers to the war) and seizes their weapons, the vets must go on with 2nd hand guns - cast-offs from earlier wars, and face a war that they've never really left. The action scenes are sketched well and keep away from being exploitative, while the script manages to verge from serious to light when it matters, and never panders to any jingoism. This is not a Rambo movie. This is not about stamping "victory" where history shows defeat - but rather about grown men facing the consequences of their defeat when their nation would rather they just forget about it."
Uncommon Valor's Storyline
Terry M. Eusebio | 01/21/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I love this movie. I only have a few comments on some scenes within. First, why is the CIA doing surveillance at the American airport on a retired Colonel and his mercenary crew going on a POW/MIA mission? The CIA is not chartered for domestic surveillance. Second, the boat scene, after the crew has loaded its gear on it, fails to show Mr. Chang's two daughters. It showed all the other members but not the girls - where were they? Third, in the scene where Patrick Swayze fires from the hill-top down onto the Lao guards, Mr. Chang was shot in the head. By whom? Unless a sharpshooter was hiding nearby, it would be nearly impossible for an infantryman to shoot upward to his target and hit him in the forehead, especially with the "fog of war" occuring through most of that scene.
Comments aside, the movie is inspiring and brings tears to my eyes due to the fact that a handful of guys had the balls to go back to SouthEast Asia and retrieve our POWs/MIAs whereas the Government failed to do so. The acting may be melodramatic, but the storyline is right on."
Would That It Were True!
John A Lee III | San Antonio, TX | 04/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The premise of this film is that Americans were left behind in Southeast Asia after the war and the US government has done little or nothing to get them back home. This does not sit well with some people. Included among these are a powerful industrialist and a former Marine officer. They both have kids who were left behind and they are not willing to take bureaucratic platitudes in exchange for their kids' lives.
Gene Hackman plays the retired Marine officer. He will not let things lie for the sake of diplomatic niceties. For 10 years after the war, he puts all his time and energy into tracking down information on the missing POWs. When he finds evidence, he recruits some of the buddies of his son to go on a private rescue expedition. He gets funding from a wealthy industrialist who also has a missing son. The scratch rescue team puts together a plan and heads to Southeast Asia.
Nothing goes according to plan. The mission is betrayed by the US government and they lose their equipment and the majority of their funds. It looks like they are stuck but these guys are unwilling to take no for an answer. They pool their funds, scrounge some weapons and steal equipment. They then carry out their rescue mission with bittersweet results.
Some of this film is believable. That US POWs were left behind is commonly accepted. That diplomatic niceties would lead to the betrayal and frustration of rescue efforts would be par for the course. That men would be willing to die to save friends and comrades in arms from eternal prison is also quite acceptable.
Some of the film is beyond belief. The planning and execution of a complex mission seem substandard. Many are the explosions which seem out of scale to the ordinance and there are plenty of minor implausibilities scattered throughout.
The film is not great. Other films have better acting, better action or better plots but this one is somehow captivating. In a small way, it tries to redress a great wrong. It tells a good story and a story worthy of being true. "
Uncommon Valor: Uncommon Vietnam War movie
Chism Nash | Logan, UT United States | 01/03/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was one of the first movies I saw as a kid about the Vietnam War and it had a profound impact on me. The movie never delves into the political arguments against the war. From the movie's standpoint, we were there, and we left men there. Regardless of whether the war was right or wrong, the only right thing to do now, is get our men back. This was also one of the first Gene Hackman movies I ever saw, and I have been a diehard fan ever since. No other actor can disappear into a role the way Hackman does, and here is a great example of the movie's leading character doing just that, leading. Hackman gives a great performance, balancing the tough Army Colonel with the soft, gentle side of being a father. The cast is exceptional, Fred Ward, Reb Brown and Randall "Tex" Cobb being the standouts. Tim Thomerson has never been better (really). And what better role for a young, up and coming Swayze, who delivers an emotionally deep role. True the plot turns formulaic toward the end, but the superb cast pulls you in and you don't even realize it. But this movie gets it's point across: There are still US Servicemen over there, and whether or not you agreed with the Vietnam War, the only right thing to do is to go back and get them. I highly recommend this movie, if not for the theme of the movie, at least for the superb acting that it contains within. I've seen really bad movies with Gene Hackman, but he was still good, now see him in a really good movie, where he shines."