Monday, April 14, 2014


The Final Four is set.

Hamburger Hill (1)
Platoon (5)

Full Metal Jacket (3)
84 Charlie MoPic (7)

Two very intriguing matchups! Hopefully I will have time in my crowded weekend to post the next round. Thanks to everyone who has stuck around this long. I appreciate it.

Here is a preview of the categories:
Educational Value
I went back and reviewed my old post on war movie clichés (which I need to update) and found few that apply to “Full Metal Jacket”. One that appears is the main character (Joker) is an intellectual who is above all the militaristic macho behavior and is snarky. And, of course, the fat guy dies (albeit in a unique way). The drill sergeant is an a-hole. Not one, but two, BFF couples are decoupled (Joker/Cowboy & Animal Mother/Eight Ball). The noncombatant who wants to get in the s*** (Joker and Rafterman) learn that its not called the s*** for nothing. However, for the most part the movie is not only free of clichés, but even flips some standard tropes. For instance, Joker does not turn Pyle into a competent soldier. There is no redemption arc for Pyle. There are no boot camp enemies that become buddies. The boot camp unit and the Lust Hogs are not overtly heterogeneous. The movie did contribute to purely Vietnam War movie clichés: A member of the unit is a psycho who revels in killing (Animal Mother). B

“84 Charlie” has a few clichés. The unit is pretty heterogeneous. There is a wiseacre and a hick. Another cliché is one of the BFFs dies, but not saving the other. It has the Vietnam trope of the sergeant running the unit instead of the Lieutenant. However, in this case the LT is stereotypically green, but not incompetent. We do have a short-timer (Easy), but he does not die. Most of the characters that die are not predictable. B


Full Metal Jacket = 8
84 Charlie MoPic = 8


Obviously FMJ is most remembered for the foul-mouthed DI. His dialogue is the one thing everyone remembers about the movie. Since R. Lee Ermey was a drill instructor, the words spewing out of his mouth are authentic to the type. The rest of the dialogue in the film is not bad, it’s just forgettable in comparison. The soldiers have the rough camaraderie of Vietnam grunts. Joker’s first confrontation with Animal Mother is typical of this. The Vietnam locker room slams are amusing. The movie does not go overboard on the Vietnam slang. One weakness is the narration by Joker is flat. B

84 CM has surprisingly good dialogue for a low budget film. This is important because the movie is very dialogue driven. The soldiers speak like American grunts. It is natural sounding. Their jokes are appropriately low brow. The dialogue is peppered with Vietnamisms, but it does not lay it on thick in a showy way. They use the catch-phrase “there it is” without making a big deal out of it (compare this to Hamburger Hill’s use of “it don’t mean nothing”). The interviews with the men are heart-felt, but not schmaltzy. The screenplay was written by a vet (who later wrote “Courage Under Fire”). A


Full Metal Jacket = 16
84 Charlie MoPic = 17


FMJ: 1. The same prostitute that Joker encounters in Da Nang shows up in Hue. Hue during the Tet Offensive – the go-to place for prostitutes. 2. That sniper is an amazing shot with a standard AK-47. 3. Were the Marines that desperate for recruits to put up with Pyle all the way through boot camp? For a Kubrick film, there is not too much that is implausible in the film. B

84 CM: 1. The sarge points his M-16 at the LT. This is the only thing I can think of. A


Full Metal Jacket = 24
84 Charlie MoPic = 26


Things you can learn about the Vietnam War from FMJ: 1. Marine boot camp was mentally and physically abusive (but not as bad as the movie depicts). 2. A “blanket party” could be used to punish a troublesome recruit. 3. “Stars and Stripes” had a party line that it pushed. 4. American soldiers had a low opinion of the ARVN. 5. Civilians were executed by the Communists in Hue. 6. American soldiers in Vietnam would go to great lengths to rescue wounded comrades. 7. Hue was destroyed in the process of retaking it. 8. Vietnamese prostitutes were “honny”. B

Things you can learn from 84 CM: 1. Soldiers would duck tape their gear to cut down on noises. 2. The film shows various booby traps like punji stakes. 3. Americans called the VC “Chuck”. 4. Officers wanted combat duty to enhance promotion. 5. Soldiers used C-4 to heat their MREs. 6. Marijuana use was discouraged in the bush. Most importantly, the viewer gets a good picture of what a LRRP was like. A


Full Metal Jacket = 32
84 Charlie MoPic = 35


This upset came down to the fact that 84CM is a better story about the Vietnam War and the soldiers that fought it. Placing the audience with them from a POV standpoint was genius. That one cinematography stunt makes up for all the big budget fireworks Kubrick throws at us. That is not to say that FMJ is not a great movie. Some of the things that make it a near masterpiece make it an unrealistic account of the war. It is the kind of movie experience you hope to have when you settle into your seat in the multiplex, but it does not take you into the screen like 84 MoPic does.

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