Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hamburger Hill (1987)

Director: John Irvin

Writer: James Carabatsos

Composer: Philip Glass

Starring: Anthony Boatman, Don Cheadle, Michael Dolan, Don James, Dylan McDermott, Michael A. Nickles, Harry O'Reilly, Daniel O'Shea, Tim Quill, Tommy Swerdlow, Courtney B. Vance, Steven Weber, Tegan West, Kieu Chinh, Doug Goodman, J.C. Palmore, J.D. Van Sickle

More info: IMDb

Tagline: War at its worst. Men at their Best.

Plot: A brutal and realistic war film focuses on the lives of a squad of 14 U.S. Army soldiers of B Company, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division during the brutal 10 day (May 11-20, 1969) battle for Hill 937 in the A Shau Valley of Vietnam as they try again and again to take the fortified hill held by the North Vietnamese, and the faults and casualties they take every time in which the battle was later dubbed "Hamburger Hill" because enemy fire was so fierce that the fusillade of bullets turned assaulting troops into shredded hamburger meat.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

After all these years I finally saw it and it's really good but not quite great.  Why?  Philip Glass' score doesn't work half the time, Steven Weber's Southern accent isn't up to snuff (and as a Southerner it's kind of annoying) and the film isn't as compelling as it should be in the last third when they're repeatedly taking the hill and losing it.  There's something lost there that I can't put my finger on.  But the performances are outstanding and Irvin does a wonderful job in telling the story of these men who have a nasty job to do.  The subtle ways the characters are hardened is nicely done so that you don't notice it until the end.  The effects and stunt work are terrific as are the great song choices.  My favorite performance, and there are a lot of really good ones, is from Vance as Doc. This was his first feature film and I'm really surprised that this cat hasn't made Hollywood's A-list.  This is a good Vietnam War action picture that's got me all wanting to see PLATOON (1986) and CASUALTIES OF WAR (1989) again.  They're sitting right there on my damn shelf.  I should do something about that.  I haven't seen them since they were released. The Artisan DVD has a nice gritty anamorphic widescreen print with the sole extra being a fullscreen theatrical trailer.

No comments:

Post a Comment