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Casualties of War (Bilingual)
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Hailed by critics as a masterpiece, CASUALTIES OF WAR is based on the true story of a squad of soldiers caught in the moral quagmire of wartime Vietnam. Witness to a vile crime, Private Eriksson (Michael J. Fox, TV's, Spin City) is forced to stand alone against his fellow soldiers and commanding officer Sergeant Meserve (Sean Penn, Dead Man Walking), a powerful and charismatic man pushed over theedge of barbarism by the terror and brutality of combat. With sweeping scope, action and raw power,master filmmaker Brian DePalma (The Untouchables) creates a devastating and unforgettable tale of one man's quest for sanity and justice amidst the chaos of war.
Based on a true story, this Brian De Palma film casts Michael J. Fox as a soldier in Vietnam in a squad led by Sean Penn. While on patrol, in the wake of an ambush that has left friends dead, they kidnap and rape a Vietnamese woman--then murder her. But Fox, one of the soldiers who refused to participate in the rape, is so appalled by the killing that he reports it--and finds himself being treated as the villain. Penn is scarily tough as the vindictive soldier and De Palma does a solid job of re-creating the crime, making it a thing of horror. Yet this film never quite connects, despite a strong performance by Fox and a supporting cast that includes John C. Reilly and John Leguizamo. --Marshall Fine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Rather, the approach of this story is far more basic: what is the relationship between men & women during wartime? Is it different than during peace? What if the woman in question is suspected of being the enemy? What is the typical response of the military hierarchy to an alleged crime? What can be done to minimize the opportunities of military units abusing their power and control? (After all, armies are frequently misogynistic to begin with).
Michael J. Fox belongs in a war movie just about as much as Winnie the Pooh is at home in an action movie. However, it is for this very reason that Fox is perfect in this film. This is not a plot that tells of manly men doing manly wartime things. Fox' character is an average-Joe human who is mainly consumed with the notion of getting back home in one piece as opposed to being shipped back in a body bag.
On a patrol, his detail (led by the masterful actor Sean Penn) decides to kidnap a Vietnamese girl whom they believe to be VC. They use this premise (misguided or not) to justify their having their way w/her while Fox and the viewer watch helplessly.
This is one of the most poignant war movies you will ever see. The issue it addresses is very relevant despite being distasteful. I cringe to think that the episode depicted was hardly an isolated case, whether it be a crime inflicted by the US military or any other standing army in the history of warfare.
In sum, this is a jolting reminder to us that warfare and ethics are inherently unhappy bedfellows. What happens in the field should NOT stay in the field.
Not a film to be missed, regardless of how unsettling. Fox's struggle between loyalty to his platoon versus loyalty to his morals puts an grave spin on the idea of "peer pressure" and you will find yourself applauding - and perhaps a bit inspired by - his determination to go against the grain.
Plus, in a cinematic world filled with one-dimensional perspectives on Vietnam, it never hurts to hear the Other Side of the Story. I'm not being unpatriotic; the fact remains, however, that American soldiers committed just as many atrocities as the VC did during the War (think My Lai). People are, unfortunately, a bit too reluctant to bring them to light.
Michael J. Fox played his part,(as always) to the max, and Sean Penn was not far behind for the evil and crazy leader of the band.
Altogether, it's a movie anyone should watch. If not for the truth and final showdown between Fox, and his enemies, but for the wonderful acting and storyline.
But does it work as a movie? For the most part, yes. The two glaring problems with Casualties is the ending and some of the soundtrack music which DePalma uses to excess.
The ending, as it's explained within the DVD extras, is purposely presented as uplifting. We see Eriksson on a San Francisco BART train awaking from his bad dream/memories. He sees a girl who could be the one who was murdered and raped in Vietnam. He calls out the Vietnamese girl's name. The woman responds that he must have had a bad dream, but it's all over now. And then we get the "uplifting" music that rises to a crescendo.
Upon viewing the movie for a second time this ending is particularly bad. DePalma argues in the DVD extras that this positive ending was meant as a way to give the audience some relief. However, it's so hammy that it belittles the true story that precedes it. It's all a dream, it's all over, everything is now OK. But everything is not OK and everything is not over.
Which brings me to the one thing that this DVD should have offered - more information about the true story behind the movie. Why not go to Vietnam and show where the incidents actually took place? "Eriksson" is actually a pseudonym of the real man who has apparently been in hiding due to death threats from the men he helped put in prison. How about some more information about where these men are today?Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I know the soldier on whom the character of Sven was based, and the incident portrayed in the movie impacted his life in a major way. Read morePublished on April 21 2004 by Bunny
I just bought the DVD because it was on sale and had not watched the movie in years. It is an okay movie. Read morePublished on March 8 2004 by s2h131985
CASUALTIES OF WAR is one of many Vietnam War movies that came out in the late 80's as a result of the success of PLATOON. Unfortunately, it is one of the weakest. Read morePublished on Feb. 27 2004
This is easily the most true-to-life of all the Vietnam war movies. Much more believable than "Platoon", which relegated many of its characters to cartoonish caricatures, such as... Read morePublished on Jan. 11 2004 by Photoscribe
This movie stinks. It was so bad that I hope I never have to watch it again for the rest of my life.Published on Nov. 2 2003
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