“Tunnel Rats” is a Uwe Boll film released in only one theater. Boll is a famously bad director who is a whipping boy for critics. He won the Golden Raspberry Award for Directing for this film and two others. The movie was a German/Canadian production, but really it was a Boll production. He wrote, directed, and produced it for $8 million. It made $35,000. This guy must be independently wealthy. Supposedly this particular boll effort got some positive reviews. Let’s see if those critics were right. I’ll save you the trouble of watching a Boll movie by describing the plot. So spoiler alert! And you’re welcome.
The movie is set in the Cu Chi area in South Vietnam in 1968. Cu Chi was famous for its intricate tunnel system used by the Viet Cong. Some daring American grunts would volunteer to go into the tunnels. They were called Tunnel Rats. In the opening scene, one of these men is stabbed in a tunnel – from below! (That’s the first exclamation point – there will be more.) Cherries arrive and Lt. (credited as Sgt.) Hollowborn (Michael Pare) warns them against using dope (although viewers might want to disregard that warning). He orders the hanging of a VC sniper and forces the squad to witness. “We show no mercy, we take no prisoners”. (The motto of Boll films.) The LT boxes a soldier who criticized the execution! A soldier talks about going home to his sick mother. Guess who won’t be going home to his sick mother? The camp is in the jungle – with no fields of fire or any kind of defense. The VC could literally sneak up to their tents! The squad is heterogeneous with the typical mixture. There is a Bible thumper, a boy from the hood, an intellectual black, a hick, and a cynical white guy.
They go out on a mission and find a tunnel. The holy roller goes in and gets killed. The cynical white pokes his head out and gets impaled by a female VC! She then throws a grenade that wounds the intellectual. When the rest find the cynic, they don’t bring back his body! They look for intellectual and LT falls into a stake pit and the hick is machine gunned. Meanwhile the camp comes under assault in broad daylight. The grunts fire M60s from the hip. In the tunnel, one of the men has to cut his way by a dead body! Enjoy your pop corn. The boy from the hood swims through part of the tunnel to pop up in a bunk room and hurl a grenade. At this point only three members are alive when the air strike comes in. The movie concludes with a long and exhausting scene where the Bible thumper and the VC girl are trapped and trying to dig their way out.
This is not the worst Vietnam War movie. It actually is fairly entertaining if you are into combat porn and can turn off your brain for a while. There is a lot of extreme violence and it is preposterous. There are a variety of deaths, but they are all ridiculous. Boll is a better director than his reputation. He uses a lot of hand-held. He intercuts between the tunnel and the camp for the action scenes. The music is revved up, of course. The dialogue is not as stomach-turning as you would expect. Supposedly the actors improvised their lines. Maybe they had seen other Boll written movies. They throw in some Vietnam slang and it does not seem forced like in better Vietnam War movies. The characters are cliché, but that is hardly a first. There is even some character development. Unfortunately, the cast is low rent and does poorly. One interesting thing about the otherwise inferior plot is the positive spin on the Viet Cong. The female guerrilla is a nice touch and her linking up with the fundamentalist is a commendable twist.
In spite of the non-snarky comments I made about “Tunnel Rats”, this is a bad movie. I had to watch it, you don’t.
GRADE = D