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Author Topic: Hamburger Hill....anyone else hate that this movie is considered a Classic?
HeadRusch
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I love war movies. I love the Rah-Rah B&W WW2 movies of the late 40's and 50's, I love the darker 60's era War Movies..and the 70's era war movies. I love the modern war movies. I find something about all of them that I really like, the intra-personal drama, the stories of hardship and survival...from Von Ryans Express to They Were Expendible to The Pianist, there is always something there that grabs me. I loved Platoon, and Apocalypse Now....and all the Viet Nam flicks.

Until Hamburger Hill.

Billed as a serious war movie, in the vein of Platoon, I remember the day I saw the videotape appear on the rental store's shelf. I rented it (back in the late 80's)...popped it in...and watched it. And hated it. I mean, I hated it.

Years later I watched it again, and still hated it....only now thanks to the Interweb, people go on talking about what an incredible film it is.

(Granted on the Internet people will go on talking about how important YAHOO SERIOUS's YOUNG EINSTEIN is, too..but I digress).

I remember getting to the end of this movie and going "If all the main characters in the film would have simply put their rifles in their mouths the first 30 seconds of the film, it could have saved me alot of trouble".

It was like the worst example of Viet Nam "Stereotyping" I'd ever seen in film...the angry black guys lead by the "philosophical" leader, the stereotypical white guys....the inane commanders and the "reluctant hero" lead character. The diologue seemed silly at the time, and it made me think that every Viet Nam group of guys went into the field and cried themselves to sleep every night, lamenting the war and the world and thinking "deep thoughts" about things.

Which of course was also brought out in Platoon, Apocalypse Now and every good Viet Nam book I've ever read (and I've read a few)....but none were ever put to film in such a miserable and depressing manner as this.

In fact, it took until I saw the direct-to-video-almost movie WHEN TRUMPETS FADE before I got that sick taste of hating a movie back in my mouth.

When Trumpets Fade is basically a remake of Hamburger Hill, only set in WW2. The same bad stereotype characters are in this one, the same absurd orders and retarded commanders..only this one is late 90's HBO shoestring-budget kind of filmmaking....and some things just dont make any sense or are almost comically cheap.

And guess what: When Trumpets Fade is directed by the same guy who directed Hamburger Hill. Wow....I guess I *REALLY* don't like this guys work [Smile]

Now, he also directed THE DOGS OF WAR, which I find more entertaining...but also needlessly deadpan and depressing in the fact that the main characters basically exhibit the same nasty quality in a lead: Disillusion with a dose of Hopelessness.

Its like watching those bad anime movies where all the lead characters are "reluctant anti-hero's", who only do what they have to do at the last minute and then bitch and philosophise about how what they do is wrong every *other* minute.


I dunno...anyone else ever see any of these movies and care to disagree? Or Agree? I've seen some positive posts about Hamburger Hill in the past and I just absolutely do NOT get the appeal.

Platoon I find re-watchable on a yearly basis...you learn to love the characters, they aren't all bad stereotypes based on race or ethnicity, and there is an entertaining story to get wrapped up in. But with HH its just Run up the hill, get slaughtered, complain about it. Go up the hill, get slaughtered, complaina bout it.

I mean...maybe the premise of the movie itself is whats to blame....its like making a movie about a mass suicide, maybe the subject matter itself is what kills any hope of a 'decent flick' out of this one...?

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80'sRocked

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I don't own this movie, but I saw it on cable many times and quite like it. I think it shows just how bad war is. I also think everyone would complain if they're buddies were all getting slaughtered.
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Dexter Motley Morgan
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I've always liked it. It shows the reality that was Vietnam. I liked Platoon, Heartbreak Ridge, Full Metal Jacket, Thin Red Line, Saving Private Ryan, and We Were Soldiers as well though. I'm a big war movie fan except for Pearl Harbor which could have been a good movie...........
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Ali_with_an_i


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I thought it was good, maybe even better than Platoon. A couple of Vietnam Vets that I know(my uncles) say Platoon was kinda off the mark and didnt capture the war in the way that HH did.

Since I wasnt there I cant say obviously, but I thought it was good and based on a true story. My dad was in Vietnam for 4 years and he said both were ok, but he also liked HH better.

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pettyfan
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My daddy's a Vietnam vet, and he also said that Platoon was pretty far off the mark. I liked Hamburger Hill, but I didn't like it as much as I liked Full Metal Jacket, which is my favorite war movie. Would I call it a "classic?" Mmm, probably not.
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Ali_with_an_i


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Vincent D'onofrio was chilling....That was a haunting character. I really liked FMJ but there is just something about Matthew Modine that I dont like, maybe its his voice.
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80'sRocked

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I'm not a big fan of Modine either, but there is no war movie as good as Full Metal Jacket in my opinion. I also like all the others that Motley listed.
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Sir Sammy Hain Esq.
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Problem with Full Metal Jacket is that the movie is much better during the basic training scenes than the actual Vietnam scenes. But it is one of my all time favourite movies.
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JAY LEE
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Hated HH too, never thought Platoon was as good as its hype, and you're right Sam, the second half of FMJ didn't live up to the awesome first half!

I think the tv show Band of Brothers is the best war movie/series I've ever seen, way better than Private Ryan, Thin Red Line etc. Although those were indeed watchable!

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journey
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The only thing I can really say for Hamburger Hill that sets it apart from all the other Vietnam War films - except maybe The Green Berets and We Were Soldiers - is that it offers a more conservative political philosophy, especially prominent towards the end with the comments Dylan McDermott makes to the war correspondents. That doesn't make it a good film, just different in that all the others - Coming Home, The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Casualties of War, etc. - offer a decidedly left-wing reading of the war and the politics behind it. So I'll give it a couple points just for being different in that regard. Other than that I think HeadRusch's description of the film is pretty apropos.
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80'sRocked

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I forgot about Casualties of War. I actually saw that in the theaters....very good.
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Ali_with_an_i


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Jay Lee, I agree "Band of Brothers" was indeed a great series. I always though "The Bridge on the River Kwai" was really good. It was made in 1957, a WWII Story based on the novel "Bridge Over the River Kwai". Old but pretty good IMO.
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journey
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A Bridge Too Far is another great one. Saving Private Ryan pretty much lifted its finale straight from A Bridge Too Far. I also really like these others that haven't been mentioned yet:

The Sand Pebbles
Black Hawk Down
The Longest Day
Tora! Tora! Tora!
Patton
The Killing Fields
Sergeant York
The Great Escape
Stalag 17
Schindler's List
Das Boot
Cross of Iron
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Grand Illusion
Paths of Glory
Sands of Iwo Jima
Letters from Iwo Jima
Downfall
The Battle of Algiers
Gallipoli
The Dirty Dozen
Lawrence of Arabia
Lifeboat
Midway
Three Kings
Empire of the Sun
Run Silent, Run Deep
Memphis Belle
The Caine Mutiny


Then, of course, there's all the pre-modern war movies like Braveheart, 300, etc. and films not specifically about war, but where war serves as an important backdrop like Gone with the Wind, Casablanca or Doctor Zhivago.

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HeadRusch
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Great discussion folks. I'd like to say, I never meant to say Platoon was "realistic"....I meant Platoon was entertaining. Much more entertaining (even though it ends on a very sad note) than Hamburger Hill.

Production values you can't even put the two in the same category, obviously.....half of the time Hamburger Hill looks like it was shot in my back yard, not the deep jungles of Viet Nam. But I found even the un-likeable characters in Platoon fascinating, whereas I found the characters in HH to be all irritating, shallow, or both.

This discussion has caused me to think about doing something I thought I'd never do....go watch HH again, this time on my Home Theatre with the surround sound kicked up.....and see if I can find any good in it [Smile]

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Roger
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I like HH and will watch it now and then i have it on vhs,i think its a very good action movie about a group of men asked to take a hill with no name just a number.Each to his own i guess.
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