Casualties of War

( 5 )

Overview

Released at the tail-end of the Vietnam movie resurgence of the 1980s (Platoon, Rambo: First Blood II, Full Metal Jacket), director Brian De Palma's searing and emotionally wrenching morality play about a small band of American soldiers who kidnap, rape, then murder a young Vietnamese peasant girl, disappeared quickly from theater screens. Perhaps it was the unorthodox casting of television star Michael J. Fox as the soldier-with-a-conscience, or maybe the subject matter was just too dark, too emotionally painful...
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Overview

Released at the tail-end of the Vietnam movie resurgence of the 1980s (Platoon, Rambo: First Blood II, Full Metal Jacket), director Brian De Palma's searing and emotionally wrenching morality play about a small band of American soldiers who kidnap, rape, then murder a young Vietnamese peasant girl, disappeared quickly from theater screens. Perhaps it was the unorthodox casting of television star Michael J. Fox as the soldier-with-a-conscience, or maybe the subject matter was just too dark, too emotionally painful to explore in a major American movie at the time. Whatever the answer, Casualties of War has arguably aged well and deserves a serious reappraisal. Columbia-TriStar Home Entertainment's DVD offers the film in a splendid new widescreen anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) and new English 5.1 Dolby Digital and two-channel Dolby Surround soundtracks. Previous VHS releases of the film have been grainy and never showcased Steven H. Burum's majestic and striking cinematography the way it should have been seen. This release does, on the other hand. Colors are rich and bold, and really add to the film's dramatic depth. The audio tracks are also excellent, especially during the battle sequences early on. The disc also contains an 18-minute documentary called "Eriksson's War," which takes a look at actor Fox's role and take on the film (like how Sean Penn never fraternized with Fox during the actual filming). Also included is a longer making-of documentary which contains interviews with the entire cast and crew, though sadly, actor Sean Penn is not one of them. The documentary is not great, but it does contain enough interesting anecdotes to be worthwhile. The disc also contains some deleted scenes, which don't really add anything to the film itself, but are nevertheless nice to have on the disc. The original theatrical trailer and production notes are also available.
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Special Features

Deleted Scenes; Eriksson's War: A Conversation with Michael J. Fox; The Making Of Casualties Of War; Production Notes; Theatrical Trailers
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Brian De Palma's films may not be best known for their somber high-mindedness, but the style suits the director well for most of this harrowing, true-life film about the conflict in Vietnam At a time when Platoon received much credit for its supposed realism -- never mind that the characters played by Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe may as well have been labeled good and bad angels -- the opening sequences of Casualties does an excellent job establishing the complex psychological landscape of the war. Its characters suffer overwhelming fear, frustration, and unrelieved sexual tension in an environment where each minute could be the last. All of which helps to contextualize their later atrocity without in the least forgiving it. Michael J. Fox received criticism for his character's unrelieved goodness, but the film needs him to avoid descending into the moral relativism of its other characters, and Fox plays the role well. He finds himself in good company, as Sean Penn's work ranks among his best and a cast full of the next decade's best character actors fills out the credits. Unfortunately, the film goes slack after Fox and company return to base, as David Rabe's script descends into pontificating, then heads to an unsatisfying finale and an even more puzzling dénouement. But a weak third act only slightly blunts the impact of an otherwise haunting, uncompromising film.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 12/11/2001
  • UPC: 043396062924
  • Original Release: 1989
  • Rating:

  • Source: Sony Pictures
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Cinemascope (2.35:1)
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Language: English, Français, Español, Portugais
  • Time: 1:54:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 50,018

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Michael J. Fox Pfc. Eriksson
Sean Penn Sgt. Meserve
Don Harvey Clark
John C. Reilly Hatcher
John Leguizamo Diaz
Thuy Thu Le Oahn
Erik King Brown, Radio Man
Jack Gwaltney Rowan
Ving Rhames Lt. Reilly
Dale Dye Capt. Hill
Sam Robards Chaplain Kirk
Darren E. Burrows Cherry
Ba Thuan T. Le Oahn's Mother
J. Chalerm Villager Old Man Farmer
Kristopher Dunn Soldier
Scott Gregory Soldier Charlie
Shane Kerwin Soldier
Kwan Child Villager
Steve Larson Agent
Dan Martin Hawthorne
Niran V.C. in Tunnel
Nootch Child Villager
Po Powpi Villager Old Man
Shaun Shea Soldier
Somsak ARVN Interpreter
Vinh Tran V.C. Interpreter
Ennalls Berl Soldier Charlie
Donal Gibson Soldier
Woody Harrelson
Sherman Howard Court Martial President
J.J. M.P.
John Linton Agent
Holt McCallany Lt. Kramer
Wendell Pierce MacIntire
Vyto Ruginis Prosecutor
Hataya Sarmount Girl Villager
Al Shannon Wilkins
Sigma Villager Woman
Kady Tran Yen, Oahn's Sister
Marius Valainis Streibig
Art Linson
Brian De Palma
Technical Credits
Brian De Palma Director, Screenwriter
Richard Bruno Costumes/Costume Designer
Stephen H. Burum Cinematographer
Fred Caruso Co-producer
Paul Engelen Makeup
Peter Hancock Set Decoration/Design
Bernard Hides Art Director, Production Designer
Jeff Jensen Stunts
Wolf Kroeger Production Designer
Art Linson Co-producer
Ennio Morricone Score Composer
Peter Odabashian Sound Editor
Bill Pankow Editor
David Rabe Screenwriter
Hugh Scaife Set Decoration/Design
Art Smith Jr. Consultant/advisor
Kit West Special Effects
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Scene Selections
1. Start [:44]
2. Face in the Crowd [1:48]
3. Combat Zone [5:06]
4. Fox Hole [4:45]
5. Village Etiquette [2:04]
6. Jivin' With Brownie [2:14]
7. 30 Days Too Soon [3:53]
8. Basecamp Wolf [2:49]
9. Slugs, Lowlives & Roaches [1:22]
10. Passes Canceled [1:45]
11. Recon Briefing [2:34]
12. Portable R & R [4:41]
13. Genghis Khan [5:22]
14. Whole Wrong Outlook [5:40]
15. "I'm Your Friend." [1:43]
16. "I Ain't Rapin' Nobody." [10:34]
17. View From the Ridge [6:37]
18. Aborted Escape [2:53]
19. "We Gotta Waste Her." [3:41]
20. Fire Fight [2:38]
21. "Shoot Her!" [6:13]
22. Lt. Reilly [2:59]
23. Private Cherry [4:18]
24. Captain Hill [3:42]
25. Clark Blows It [4:46]
26. Chaplain's Confessional [3:44]
27. Court-Martial [3:50]
28. The Verdicts [10:50]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Audio Set Up
      English (Dolby Surround)
      English (Dolby Digital)
      French/Français
      Spanish/Español
      Portuguese/Português
   Subtitles
      English
      French/Français
      Spanish/Español
      Portuguese/Português
      Chinese
      Korean
      Thai
      Subtitles Off
   Special Features
      Eriksson's War
      The Making of Casualties of War
      Deleted Scenes
         MS Clark Testifies
         Oahn's Sister's Testimony
         Check the Treeline
         Hill & Eriksson
         Eriksson's Interrogation
      Filmographies
         Brian de Palma (Director)
         Michael J. Fox
         Sean Penn
      Theatrical Trailers
         Casualties of War
         Birdy
         The Bridge on the River Kwai
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Disturbing to the last

    Brian de Palma's most thought-provoking and disturbing film to the end with a rape scene that makes others seem irrelevant. Never forget Vietnam, where in another one now.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Disturbing Rape Scene

    This movie as a whole, is good. I am sure it is true to life and is fact based. But one scene was incredibly disturbing. A very graffic rape scene - I wished I had never seen.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Picture of Life

    ''Casualties of War'' is riveting for one, and only one, reason that people in this country seem to forget everyday: Revenge is not an answer to any question we may have. If you remember the Vietnam War, watch it. If you don't, watch it. It will remind you of how disgusting the people of this country can actually be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Truly Thought Provoking Film.

    This is a gripping film that deals with the harsh circumstances one man is forced to deal with in the jungles of Vietnam during the war. Starring Michael J. Fox and Sean Penn, and directed by Brian De Palma(''Scarface'', ''Mission:Impossible'', ''Mission to Mars'') this movie is about a mission that a group of soldiers set out on: an endeavor, led by Penn's character, to kidnap a Vietnamese girl from her village in order to achieve some sort of vengence for the death of a war buddy. Fox's character, Erikson, is the only one in the group who does not want to go along with the plan. The girl is repeatedly raped by all except Erikson, who wants to relaese the girl from her imprisonment. This is a magnificent film with great performances by both Penn and Fox (Fox, in 1989, when the film was released, was only known for his comedic performances in such titles as ''Back to the Future'' and ''Family Ties'')who manage to give a very emotional feel to the film. This movie, based on an actual event, will shock and sadden anyone who sees it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews