Casualties of War (1989)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Based on an article in the New Yorker magazine, this story illustrates the dehumanizing aspects of the Vietnam War. The story revolves around an American GI who refuses to take part in the gang rape of a young Vietnamese girl and his efforts to bring the guilty to justice.

Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure
Directed By: ,
Written By: Daniel Lang, David Rabe, Brian DePalma
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 11, 2001
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


as Sgt. Tony Meserve

as Cpl. Thomas E. Clark

as PFC Herbert Hatcher

as Brown

as Lt. Reilly

as Hawthorne

as Capt. Hill

as Prosecutor

as Wilkins

as MacIntire

as Chaplain Kirk

as Court Martial Presid...

as Lt. Kramer

as Yen, Oahn's Sister

as VC Interpreter

as ARVN Interpreter

as Girl Villager

as Oahn's Mother

as Old Man Farmer

as Village Woman

as Old Man Villager

as VC in Tunnel

as Agent #1

as Agent #2

as Soldier Charlie #1

as Soldier Charlie #2

as Child Villager

as Child Villager

as Soldier

as Soldier

as Soldier

as M.P.
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Casualties of War

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for Casualties of War

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (8)

There's a moral charge to the action, but it's also swooningly exciting, coldly scary. Every friend may be an enemy, every innocent a traitor.

Full Review… | March 16, 2015
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

A powerful metaphor of the national shame that was America's orgy of destruction in Vietnam, Brian De Palma's film deals directly with the harrowing rape and murder of a Vietnamese woman by four GIs.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Casualties of War is dull.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Mr. Penn plays Meserve with terrific elan. There is plausibility in every movement and gesture, and especially in his crafty handsomeness. His Meserve is the sort of man one credits with thoughts when the mind may, in fact, be completely blank.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Makes us look at the mistaken Vietnam War as something that's dehumanizing.

Full Review… | May 28, 2015
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A typical De Palma film, disturbingly based on true events, Casualties Of War works well enough.

Full Review… | March 16, 2015

Audience Reviews for Casualties of War


DePalma's epic war film explores the dark sides of men in combat and features many outstanding performances.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

Based on actual events, this is a gripping examination of of a squad of soldiers who find themselves heavily embroiled in the moral quagmire of the Vietnam War.
PFC Eriksson (Michael J. Fox) is an idyllic soldier new to the territory. He's soldiering with a squad of hardened men lead by the young but volatile Sgt. Tony Meserve (Sean Penn). After Meserve's best friend is killed, he vows revenge. Part of that process involves going to a village to kidnap a girl whom he belives is allied with the VC. His intention is to use her as "mobile R & R". Eriksson is horrified by this, but is outvoted, and looks on in horror and disgust as his squad (which includes debuts from John C. Reilly and John Leguizamo) brutally treats, rapes, then kills the girl.

Despite risk of severe retaliation, and the indifference of his superiors (Ving Rhames and Dale Dye), Eriksson is determined to bring his fellow soldiers to justice.

It seems inevitable that most if not all of the New Hollywood directors have made a war film, specifically one concerning Vietnam. This is Brian DePalma's entry in that category, and, it's quite good.

It lacks a lot of his overt cynicism and gimmickry, focusing instead on heavy themes and character. Don't get me wrong, there's some great camera work, a wonderful look, and a strong score from Ennio Morricone, but this is mostly a showcase from DePalma playing it straight. There's nothing wrong with that either, because it's a pretty solid film.

Yes, the film does get a little too sappy and sentimental towards the end, maybe a bit too feel good, bt it's mostly earned. Also, Fox is quite compelling and convincing, but I think he was perhaps too pure of a character. He's still good though, and really sympathetic. As good as he is though, he of course gets overshadowed by Sean Penn. Penn, as expected is fiercely intense, unhinged, and memorable. The aforementioned supporters are all pretty decent, too, giving hints of greater things to come.

All in all, this is a really good film, and you should check it out. Yeah, it is flawed, but even then it's still pretty worthwhile.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer


Imagine A Clockwork Orange in vietnam, a shocking and tense war film. The most serious picture with Michael J. Fox. Casualties of War is also one of the best DePalma's moments.

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

Casualties of War Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Casualties of War on our Movie forum!