Casualties of War (1989)
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as Sgt. Tony Meserve
as Cpl. Thomas E. Clark
as PFC Herbert Hatcher
as Lt. Reilly
as Capt. Hill
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
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Critic Reviews for Casualties of War
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.
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.
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.
Makes us look at the mistaken Vietnam War as something that's dehumanizing.
A typical De Palma film, disturbingly based on true events, Casualties Of War works well enough.
Audience Reviews for Casualties of War
DePalma's epic war film explores the dark sides of men in combat and features many outstanding performances.
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.
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.
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