Humping in the Jungle

January 24, 2011

Three Vietnam War movies with a mix of humor and seriousness.

The Boys in Company C (1978).  This was filmed in the Philippines, but there isn’t really any jungle footage since it’s apparently set in the less densely vegetated regions of Vietnam, such as the Central Highlands.  Oh well, it’s still beautiful Philippines landscape.  This film also draws comparisons to Full Metal Jacket (boot camp with R. Lee Ermey) and MASH (bizarre sports match at the end), but the humor mostly fell flat for me.

The Odd Angry Shot (1979).  Unique in that it tells the story of Australian soldiers during the Vietnam conflict.  Filmed in Australia. Close shots, dim lighting, and dampness worked well in giving it a dismal jungle appearance much of the time, though sometimes it doesn’t look like jungle at all.  The Australian humor is entertaining, and I don’t think there’s a ten minute stretch that doesn’t show a can of Foster’s being consumed.

84 Charlie MoPic (1989).  This wasn’t exactly filmed in a jungle (southern California), but, like The Odd Angry Shot, effectively evoked the feel of jungle via its camerawork.  In fact, it was filmed as a fake documentary in the style of horror films such as Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and Blair Witch Project (1999).  This doesn’t have the goofy comedy of the other two flicks, but the candid grunt humor provides brief reprieves from the horror the soldiers are enduring. One of the best ‘Nam movies of all time.

Here are two films about rogue soldiers during the Vietnam War. “Rogue” in the sense that they broke the chain of command, didn’t follow orders, or otherwise set out on their own mission. Not an unusual theme in Nam movies, but, surprise, one of these is from the Viet Cong point of view.

A Rumor of War (1980). Based on the best-selling memoirs of Philip Caputo, which I haven’t read. This movie was originally a two-part series on TV. I’ve only seen the 106 minute condensed version, but there is also a complete 195 minute version available. I’d be curious to learn the differences between the two. The jungle footage was filmed in Mexico and is decent. Brian Dennehy’s sergeant character is especially memorable, and an interesting juxtaposition to his sheriff in First Blood.

The Iron Triangle (1989). This film is unique because it focuses more on individual Viet Cong soldiers, though the narration is by a US soldier who was captured, escaped, and found a VC diary. The jungle footage is fantastic and was filmed in Sri Lanka. Bonus points for showing VC tunnels. One of the better Vietnam War movies I’ve seen, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it on other people’s lists of “Best ‘Nam flicks”.

Finally, three more Vietnam War movies filmed in the Philippines:

The Siege of Firebase Gloria (1989) R. Lee Ermey. First half of this movie is great. Second half is boring.

Platoon (1986). Charlie Sheen. Ashen jungle. Somewhere out there is the beast and he’s hungry tonight.

Nam’s Angels (1970) Also known as The Losers. Hell’s Angels in Nam. One of the earlier Vietnam War movies made and highly entertaining.

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