Based on the book by Hal Moore this movie is the story of the 1965 battle at the La Drang Valley between the forces of the United States and the North Vietnamese Army. The movie follows then Lt. Colonel Moore, played by Mel Gibson, as he works to put together the first Air Calvary unit in the US Army and though its first combat deployment. To Moore the horse cavalry was made up of men that could be anywhere at any time and simply by trading out horses for helicopters his men could accomplish the same thing. Leading these men into a fight against the superior numbers of the NVA required men of the highest caliber and a leader that would not flinch. As wave after wave of helicopters brought in fresh troops and ammunition, and carried off the wounded Moore feels the weight of the task put in front of him.
This is one of the roles that Mel Gibson embodies best. Whether as Hal Moore, William Wallace or Benjamin Martin he plays the man who is up against the odds, but will never quite and never surrender. You feel the emotion as he sees his men die around him and sense his desire to fulfill one of his objectives to never leave a man behind on the field.
This movie is not all Mel Gibson though. Sam Elliott, Greg Kinnear, Barry Pepper, Madeline Stowe and Kerry Russel all bring a brace to their roles that makes this story worth watching again and again. The music and sound also put you in the heat of battle and the eerie stillness of the t as they await words of their loved ones fates.
There are however two areas where this movies does kind of drop the ball in my estimation. First is that this came out at a time where it was en vogue to show the perspective of the enemy in the conflict. I don;t have a problem with that in and of itself, but this movie tip toes to the line and then retreats back. It is almost like they want you to feel compassion for the NVA soldiers who are just fighting for their country, but don;t want to commit to making them full blown characters. The second area, and I feel a little bad even saying it, somes at the end. I am as much a patriot as the next guy, but you may find it a bit over the top. Maybe that was how the battle really ended, but I think it kind of undercut the stoic nature of the previous 70 minutes.
See it and judge for yourself, but even to this day I consider it in my top 10 war films. As always you can click the link to get your self a copy.