“The Veteran” is a made-for-TV film. It was the third in Sidney Furie’s Vietnam War trilogy. The other two were “The Boys in Company C” and “Under Heavy Fire”. One of my sources said his trilogy was similar to Oliver Stone’s. I had to laugh at that. Yes, they are comparable in that they each have three movies and they are about the Vietnam War. That’s it. While Stone is considered a good director, Furie is mostly noted for straight-to-DVD movies that are mostly crap. Let’s see if this is one of them.
The movie opens with a title card telling us there are 1,835 prisoners of war that are still missing. (This was the issue that Ross Perot became famous for. Oh, and Rambo, too.) In modern day Ho Chi Minh City (what used to be Saigon), a black clergyman named Watson (Bobby Hosea) visits his old lover’s home. Queue the flashback. She had a child by him, but then he left her to go back to the States. She is not happy to see him. When he returns to his hotel room, the camera focuses on the ceiling fan. Seriously? Did Furie really want to steal from “Apocalypse Now”? The next flashback is to a chaotic battle featuring Capt. Ramsey (Casper Van Dien through footage from “Under Heavy Fire”). Watson earned a Bronze Star. Suddenly, he is confronted by a creepy dude named Jordan (Michael Ironside). He was a medic in that chaotic scene and was left behind. He has issues. He was held prisoner for six years and when released he decided to stay in Vietnam. He didn’t even let his mother know he was alive! Meanwhile, Watson’s room is bugged by the CIA. Agent Sara Reid (Ally Sheedy) is trying to locate missing in action. And then some Furie-ous things happen. A chaplain (don’t ask what a platoon is doing with a chaplain) goes into no man’s land to pop smoke. Later, he throws a grenade to save Jordan’s life. A chopper drops a bunch of dead bodies on a village. One of the Americans sets fire to a hootch. This is considered an atrocity even though no one was hurt! A later scene looks like it is set in Hue. Don’t expect Kubrich’s Hue. Stick around for the ridiculous twist ending.
Sorry I spent so much time on the plot. It really didn’t deserve it. Much of what happens makes little sense. I didn’t even mention the offensive gay subplot. The acting matches the plot. It’s bad. Ironside chews scenery and the rest of the actors are second-rate. Apparently, Van Dien turned down the opportunity to star in this one. When you can’t get Casper, you know you are in trouble. But, you do get to see a fighting Chaplain. The combat is B-movie and some of it is recycled. There are a lot of gas explosions.
I can now die in peace now that I have seen Furie’s Vietnam War trilogy. I know some of you have a positive view of “Boys of Company C”, which is clearly the best movie of the three. However, if you are like me and you think it is a bad movie, there is absolutely no reason to watch this movie. It’s worse than bad. Did I mention it has a stupid title?
GRADE = D