Hamburger Hill is among the top Vietnam movies made to date. While not as famous as the big 4 Vietnam movies of time period, Apocalypse Now [Blu-ray
], The Deer Hunter (1978) (Universal's 100th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray + DVD
], Platoon [Blu Ray] [Blu-ray
] or Full Metal Jacket [Blu-ray
], its on the same level quality and production wise and has a high rating with Vietnam Vets for its realistic depiction of battle and the war. This movie tells the story of one squad shortly before and during the battle of Hill 937, later called 'Hamburger Hill' due to all the carnage. This battle took place over 10 days in 1969. The title of my review is a mantra heard throughout the movie and often in Vietnam, a way to cope with things that really did matter, a lot, both in Vietnam and when the soldiers returned home. Many issues of the Vietnam war are touched upon including the disproportionate number of blacks drafted, the apathy of many of the American public toward returning soldiers, blue on blue fire incidents and even 'Dear John' letters. What sets this movie apart is probably the amount of gore. Dylan McDermott in one of the extra featurettes said the movie was really like a horror movie with all the blood and set conditions.
This Blu-ray has overall a pretty good visual quality. It does not appear to have been restored since there are film artifacts seen, although small and not distracting. As with most 80s films, there is lots of grain and you may notice the color is off. That is because the director, John Irving, wanted to work with flesh tones, blood, green and the red mud. So he used a technique that made the skin look pale and desaturated the green. The audio is excellent with surround effects filling the room during the battle scenes, of which there are many.
The special features for this Blu-ray are 2 featurettes, a commentary track with some of the actors and the writer and a time line of the Vietnam conflict going all the way back to the 1800s colonization by the French. The featurettes are good. The first tells of the shooting conditions. They filmed in the Philippines during a time of political turmoil and at one point the crew came under fire by snipers. So some of the fear portrayed in the movie was real. I won't spoil more of it, but was very interesting. The second, shorter featurette was on combat medics and was also interesting.
I probably should give the film 4 stars because visually its not perfect, I have see much worse on HDNet's Movie channel. But I am giving it 5 because it is am almost forgotten Vietnam movie that deserves Blu-ray treatment.