A Flying Elephant, Boy Band Jungle Squads, and Yet Another Exploding Communist

May 3, 2012

Eventually I’m going to compile all the jungle movies I’ve listed on this blog into one big list, like The Big List of 1980s Barbarian & Fantasy Movies. It would be more useful that way. In the meantime, here’s some mainstream (at least compared to the namsploitation trash that’s more commonly posted about here) Vietnam War jungle movies  that have yet to be mentioned on this blog.

Go Tell the Spartans (1978), directed by Ted Post. Despite being filmed in California, the jungle is halfway believable. Easily on the short list of all-time best Vietnam War movies.

The Deer Hunter (1978), directed by Michael Cimino. Not much jungle, but the bamboo cages in water became staples of many ‘Nam POW flicks.

Uncommon Valor (1983), directed by Ted Kotcheff.  Listed as being filmed in Hawaiian jungle, but it seems they imported a Filipino carabao and some Tagalog-speaking actors. (My wife lets me know whenever a movie contains Vietnamese soldiers speaking a Filipino dialect.) This movie spawned scads of POW rescue copycats.  Phantom Raiders is strikingly similar, but with ninjas.

Compare the Uncommon Valor squad to the Tropic Thunder gang below.

Purple Hearts (1984), directed by Sidney Furie.  Like a cross between China Beach and Top Gun.  Interesting concept, but it tries to do too much and the love story is awkward.  Filmed in the Philippines with a few decent jungle scenes, so it has that going for it, at least.

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), directed by George P. Cosmatos. Decent Mexican jungle locations. The exploding arrowheads made a strong impression on me when I was a youngster.

(Click here for an earlier post with an exploding communist.)

Hamburger Hill (1987), directed by John Irvin. This is often described as being highly realistic, but it seemed to be little more than veneer and cliche. Veneer and cliche are entertaining in trashy movies, but they are simply veneer and cliche in a “serious movie” like this. It doesn’t give any sense of the context surrounding the battle for Hamburger Hill, nor the unfolding of the battle itself. Filmed in the Philippines with a few decent jungle scenes, so it has that going for it, at least.

Bat 21 (1988), directed by Peter Markle. Talk about a forgotten Vietnam War movie…starring Gene Hackman and Danny Glover, no less.  Some nice Malaysian jungle and the first half of the movie is excellent, but the second half sputters out and crashes with nothing there to rescue it.

Operation Dumbo Drop (1995), directed by Simon Wincer. Did you know that Disney made a ‘Nam movie? How did they market a movie like this? It’s somewhat entertaining actually, with some great Thailand jungle.

We Were Soldiers (2002), directed by Randall Wallace.  This movie hardly deserves mention on this list, because its forest looks nothing like a jungle. Filmed in California and Georgia, but it might as well have been filmed in Minnesota.  Disappointing.

Tunnel Rats (2008), directed by Uwe Boll. There is some ok South African jungle and the tunnel crawling scenes are sufficiently nasty, but it completely fails as Vietnam War movie. Maybe it has some merit as a horror movie, I dunno. Every character makes the wrong decision, every step of the way. Is that how horror movies usually do it? Some similarities to 84 Charlie Mopic, which is a much better movie.

Compare the Tropic Thunder gang here to the Uncommon Valor squad above.

Tropic Thunder (2008), directed by Ben Stiller. A brilliant idea…a parody of Vietnam War movies. I liked the first half, but then it got lost in silliness. Plenty of great Hawaiian jungle, though.

(Some mainstream Vietnam War movies feature little or no jungle, so aren’t officially on this list, such as Heaven and Earth, Good Morning Vietnam, Full Metal Jacket, etc.)


One Response to “A Flying Elephant, Boy Band Jungle Squads, and Yet Another Exploding Communist”

  1. […] Field of Fire (aka Battle Gear) Jungle Rating:  4 Keywords:  nudie bar scenes, David Carradine in a khaki jumpsuit, Corregidor filming location, punji trap Why watch this first? If you were disappointed with the second half of Bat 21. […]

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