In English_DVD-Special: Vietnam movies

You're in the Army now!

In "Tropic Thunder", director Ben Stiller sends three wimpy Hollywood actors to vietnam. EVOLVER tells you which memorable genre characters we'd most likely take along on patrol - and which ones would stay home. Lock and load!    16.02.2009

Juergen Fichtinger (Translated by Binu Starnegg)

Colonel James Braddock

(Chuck Norris)

Leserbewertung: (bewerten)

You really didn't think I'd leave ... without making sure you were dead?


Specialty: Can single-handedly shoot an entire enemy unit to a bloody pulp - not as gory as his colleague Rambo did in Burma recently, but in trademark eighties style: slow-motion and with a grim scowl.


Assignment: Taking out enemy sentry-posts by utilizing either his unique charm or impossibly cheesy one-liners. If both fail, he can still resort to a well-aimed roundhouse kick to the stomach or a monologue from "Walker, Texas Ranger".

Previous missions: The "Missing in Action" series from Cannon Films, a legendary label during the eighties. He first saw action in 1984, when director Joseph Zito - under orders from producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus - dispatched Chuck to Thailand. There, the Vietnam veteran and former POW Braddock had to liberate a handful of other POWs, and while he was at it, blow all commies to hell. Two sequels later, Vietnam was forgotten and he was off eliminating terrorists alongside Lee Marvin in the "Delta Force" pictures instead.

Littlejohn: Braddock! I'm warning you, don't step on any toes.
Braddock: I don't step on toes, Littlejohn, I step on necks.

Memorabilia: The movie itself is only available as a barebone release (MGM); better to grab Ian Spector's "The Truth About Chuck Norris: 400 Facts About the World's Greatest Human", read Chuck's autobiography "Against All Odds: My Story" or his exhortations on the topic of "Black Belt Patriotism: How to Reawaken America". And don't forget: "Google won't search for Chuck Norris because it knows you don´t find Chuck Norris, he finds you."

Personal Motto: Walk or crawl, we're gonna make it!


Sergeant Bob Barnes

(Tom Berenger)

Leserbewertung: (bewerten)

Are you smoking this shit so's to escape from reality? Me, I don't need this shit. I am reality.

Specialty: Intricate knowledge of what young recruits should actually be carrying on a jungle sojourn, and how to effectively silence divergent ethical opinions.

Assignment: Mediating conflicts in rebellious villages and making socially skilled and conscious combatants listen to reason.

Previous missions: Patrolling through the jungle in Oliver Stone's "Platoon" (1986) and getting aggravated by inexperienced rookies and Willem Dafoe. Was deployed three years later as Recruiting Gunnery Sgt. Hayes in "Born on the 4th of July" to procure more cannon fodder.

Memorabilia: German Labels have done a poor job releasing "Platoon", and there are numerous variations. Either go for the current Special Edition (including bonus disc), or the modestly priced Single Edition (by MGM).
Both have a memorable director's commentary by Vietnam veteran Stone and an audio commentary by military advisor Captain Dale Dye.

Personal Motto: Shut up! Shut up and take the pain! Take the pain!



(Robert De Niro)

Leserbewertung: (bewerten)

A deer has to be taken with one shot. I try to tell people that but they don't listen.

Specialty: Actually, it's deer hunting. In times of war however, he transforms into a badass supertrooper.

Assignment: Bringing comrades left behind back home after being discharged. Preferably before they enter careers as professional gamblers.

Previous missions: Went to war alongside Christopher Walken and John Savage in Michael Cimino's "The Deer Hunter" (1978) to serve his country and escape the dull small town life.

Memorabilia: The domestically available Special Edition by Arthaus/Kinowelt. Interviews and director's commentary not only shed light onto the production history of the picture, but also on the creative process of director Michael Cimino, who has since put himself into seclusion.

Personal Motto: We gotta play with more bullets ...


Colonel Mike Kirby

(John Wayne)

Leserbewertung: (bewerten)

George Beckworth: There is such a thing as due process.
Colonel Mike Kirby: Out here, due process is a bullet.

Specialty: Railing against communism along with Mr. Sulu and stoically instructing his subordinates in patriotism and etiquette.

Assignment: To create campfire camaraderie during the evening hours.

Previous missions: Wayne supported co-director Ray Kellog in making "The Green Berets" (1968), replacing his trademark stetson and horse with a combat helmet and camo fatigues for his role as Col. Kirby in this propaganda movie.

Memorabilia: There is currently no DVD-release with mentionable extras. So forget this old cornball of a movie for now and grab the identically titled original novel by Robin Moore instead. "The French Connection" and "The Happy Hooker" are also credited to him.

Personal Motto: The Duke is above catchphrases.


Gunnery Sergeant Hartman

(R. Lee Ermey)

Leserbewertung: (bewerten)

What is your major malfunction, numbnuts? Didn't Mommy and Daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?

Specialty: Turning boys into soldiers by screaming his guts out. Touchy- feely educators would have a field day with this one. Last but not least: his well developed sense of hygiene: I want that head so sanitary and squared-away that the Virgin Mary herself would be proud to go in and take a dump.

Assignment: Improving troop morale.

Previous missions: Shocked and awed in Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket" (1987); has since been considered one of the most famous Drill Sergeant characters in film, alongside Louis Gosset Junior's Foley and Clancy Brown's Zim. Compared to the others, he didn't teach his charges much though.

Memorabilia: Choose Warner's new special edition. Aside from the Kubrick documentary "Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures" it also contains a brief featurette and audio commentary from the main actors.
The particularly thorough should also consider obtaining "The Stanley Kubrick Archives" from Taschen. The book is huge, heavy and not exactly modestly priced, but worth every cent nonetheless. As an alternative: Matthew Modine's memories written down in "Full Metal Jacket Diary".

Personal motto: Your rifle is only a tool. It is a hard heart that kills.


Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore

(Robert Duvall)

Leserbewertung: (bewerten)

I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

Specialty: Demoralizing the enemy with classical music and/or chasing them off with napalm bombs.

Assignment: Organizing recreational activities, including the necessary "clearing" of the playing field.

Previous missions: Francis Ford Coppola's excellent "Apocalypse Now" (1979). When this good ole boy, conceived by John Millius, starts having the beach bombarded for a little peace and quiet or leads the charge of the Huey cavalry to the sound of Wagner's "Walkürenritt", you can be sure you'll never forget him. No matter how often Martin Sheen looks disparingly or Marlon Brando murmurs "The horror, the horror ..." in the shadows.

Memorabilia: The US-released "Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier" (Paramount). The two DVD set contains both the classic release as well as the "Redux" variation from 2001. The included featurettes and director's commentary shouldn't stop one from checking out Eleanor Coppola's documentary "Heart of Darkness" and her book "Notes on the Making of Apocalypse Now" though.

Personal Motto: Charlie don't surf!


John Rambo

(Sylvester Stallone)

Leserbewertung: (bewerten)

I don't think you understand. I didn't come to rescue Rambo from you. I came here to rescue you from him.

Specialty: Putting small town sheriffs with too many prejudices back in their place; hiding topless in mudpits before slitting people's windpipes open.

Assignment: Executing his mission single-handedly, while the rest of the company lounges on the beach or surfs.

Previous Missions: America, land of the brave. Rambo's premiere appearance on screen in "First Blood" (1982) brought him home - and war to the small town he happened to pass through. In the first sequel he returned to Vietnam to rescue some POW's whose plight was being ignored by the government. Rambo's third adventure was a rescue mission as well: to save his mentor Col. Trautman from the clutches of evil Russians: the one man army went to Afghanistan. His most recent engagement took place last year in Burma.

Don't push it. Don't push it or I'll give you a war you won't believe.

Memorabilia: Wether bought individually or in a three-pack, the domestic DVD version (by Kinowelt) wins you over in its uncut 18+ edition with excellent featurettes and two equally satisfying audio commentaries (by Stallone and David Morell, author of the original book). Incidentally, Morell's novel "First Blood" hasn't lost its suspense over the years. However, in his version, Rambo blows away half the town's population as well ...

Personal Motto: There are no friendly civilians!


Frankie Dunlan & Mr. X

(Buddy Giovinazzo & Harry Reems)

You're not looking for a job ... you're waiting for the world to end ...
(Cathy Dunlan - "Combat Shock")

We would definitely not take these two gentlemen with us. These heavily traumatized Vietnam vets have no useful specialties, no catchphrases, and would only compromise our mission. Both Giovinazzo's character in "Combat Shock" (1986, available on DVD from Troma) and Shaun Costello's nameless killer in "Forced Entry" (1974, available on DVD from After Hours Cinema) should only appeal to die-hard exploitation fans. While "Combat Shock" does have some cineastic merit, we can't think of any good reason to recommend the Costello picture.

Scummy hippies! Scummy hippies!

("Forced Entry")


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The Austrian web-based magazine EVOLVER is the first (and still the best) online publication by professional journalists and writers in the German speaking countries. For more than twelve years now (since autumn of 1996), the EVOLVER editors provide their readers with exclusive stories, specials, reviews and opinion columns from all areas of pop-, cyber- and subculture - from Hunter S. Thompson to "Bastard Pop", from Nick Tosches to Frank Miller, from original trash novels to a comprehensive history of porn movies.



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