January 6, 2013

‘Nam in the Movies

In the 80s Vietnam Vets were the protagonists for so many action films; although the movies tended to be pure entertainment, they still managed to have heart and few of them compare to Rambo: First Blood. In the novel Rambo is pretty much a psychopath, but in the movie he’s a man pushed too far by a small town Sheriff.

The Rambo movies are seen as America kicking ass but really they are about how America treated its Vets like crap. When Rambo breaks down at the end of the movie in front of his friend and mentor Trautman, he tells how “I see all those maggots at the airport, protesting me, spitting. Calling me baby killer and all kinds of vile crap! Who are they to protest me? Who are they? Unless they’ve been me and been there and know what the hell they’re yelling about!”

It’s one of the most moving scenes of the film and Stallone is underrated in the role; he makes Rambo tough but vulnerable. A man who has struggled to find his place in the world after coming home from war. He even says  “Back there I could fly a gunship, I could drive a tank, I was in charge of million dollar equipment, back here I can’t even hold a job *parking cars*!”

Rambo’s line at the beginning of Part 2 where he asks “Do we get to win this time?” really hits home and the movie is incorrectly seen as American propaganda, when it really isn’t.

The decade of ‘Nam inspired action movies was all about how America dealt with losing the war and how so many people didn’t believe in it. The Vets would come home and so many would end up homeless and downtrodden.

Braddock in the Missing in Action Trilogy is a former POW of ‘Nam and has to go back to rescue other POWs. He’s another man haunted by the atrocities of war and there are a lot of similarities between Braddock and Rambo. Braddock however isn’t quite as damaged and is more of a balls-out action hero rather than the conflicted anguish that is John Rambo.

Born on the 4th of July wasn’t an action movie, but it really gave an insight into the treatment of America’s Vets after the war and the scenes in the hospital where Tom Cruise’s character is basically abandoned and treated like a second class citizen still haunts me today and as a non-American I found it really shocking.

Not entirely sure what the point was in this article but I just wanted to pay a small tribute to all the Vets real and fictionalised.

About the Author

Eoin Friel
Eoin Friel
I grew up watching JCVD, Sly and Arnold destroy bad guys, blow things up and spew one-liners like it's a fashion statement. Action is everything I go to the movies for and the reason I came up with this site is to share my love for the genre with everyone.



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