[MOVIE REVIEW]Vietnam? Enough is enoughAmong the movies opening over the Children's Day weekend is another Vietnam War number, "We Were Soldiers," which reteams the "Braveheart" duo of the director Randall Wallace and Mel Gibson. It's 1965, and Gibson, as Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore, leads one of the first battles of the war a deadly 72-hour engagement.
Though based on a book by a war correspondent, John Galloway, about Moore's war experiences, the film comes off as another overplayed, overdone and overtold tale of tragedy. Granted, war is a compelling theme; but here we get a barrage of tired cliches and melodramatics, and the war becomes a bore. Unfortunately, with the bloodshed and the constant explosions hitting every raw nerve, you can't resort to sleep.
While Moore is a typically macho soldier on the outside, the filmmakers endeavor to show him as eminently honorable on the inside. He is always saying "Leave no man behind," and he has an ostensibly perfect family back home.
As the battle begins, Moore has 395 troops going up against 4,000 war-hardened Viet Cong. He knows that the enemy crushed French troops in the same arena, "massacre valley." Still, his soldiers are high-spirited and willing to die for their country. Galloway, the correspondent, starts off by shooting away with his camera; soon enough, though, he's shooting a gun given him by Moore, and fighting to stay alive.
As the battle rages, so do the dramatics. The soldiers die saying, "I'm happy to die for my country," and the music accompanying the fighting goes over the top. Another bothersome aspect is a too-intense focus on the war widows back home, who get telegrams informing them of their husbands' deaths. One or two instances would have been enough, you'd think, but they just keep coming. Then, after the war, Moore aims at redemption through a moral haze: "We did not fight for the country, we fought for each other."
Back at the battle, the filmmakers depict the Viet Cong general as a man of heart, showing him praying to the rising sun for the well-being of his soldiers.
Gibson does little new here. The only changes you see from "Braveheart" and "Patriot" are his clothes and hairdo.
As Moore before he leaves for 'Nam, he's asked by his young daughter what war is. He replies, "Something that should not happen, but does." Words the filmmakers should have heeded.
by Chun Su-jin