We Were Soldiers

March 1st, 2002


We Were Soldiers

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Still of Mel Gibson in We Were SoldiersWe Were SoldiersMel Gibson and Harold G. Moore at event of We Were SoldiersWe Were SoldiersWe Were SoldiersWe Were Soldiers

The story of the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War and the soldiers on both sides that fought it.

Release Year: 2002

Rating: 7.0/10 (55,456 voted)

Critic's Score: 65/100

Director: Randall Wallace

Stars: Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear

In a place soon to be known as The Valley of Death, in a football field-sized clearing called landing zone X-Ray, Lt. Colonel Hal Moore and 400 young troopers from the elite newly formed American 7th "Air" Cavalry, were surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers dug into the tunnel warren mountainside. The ensuing battle was one of the most savage in U.S. history and is portrayed here as the signal encounter between the American and North Vietnamese armies. We Were Soldiers Once... And Young is a tribute to the nobility of those men under fire, their common acts of uncommon valor, and their loyalty to and love for one another.

Writers: Harold G. Moore, Joseph L. Galloway

Mel Gibson - Lt. Col. Hal Moore
Madeleine Stowe - Julie Moore
Greg Kinnear - Maj. Bruce 'Snake' Crandall
Sam Elliott - Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley
Chris Klein - 2nd Lt. Jack Geoghegan
Keri Russell - Barbara Geoghegan
Barry Pepper - Joe Galloway
Duong Don - Lt. Col. Nguyen Huu An
Ryan Hurst - Sgt. Ernie Savage
Robert Bagnell - 1st Lt. Charlie Hastings
Marc Blucas - 2nd Lt. Henry Herrick
Josh Daugherty - Sp4 Robert Ouellette
Jsu Garcia - Capt. Tony Nadal
Jon Hamm - Capt. Matt Dillon
Clark Gregg - Capt. Tom Metsker

Taglines: 400 U.S paratroopers. 4000 Vietnamese soldiers. 12 000 miles away from home. 1 man led them into battle.


Official Website: Paramount Pictures Corp [United States] |

Release Date: 1 March 2002

Filming Locations: Castle Green Apartments - 99 S. Raymond, Pasadena, California, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $75,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $20,212,543 (USA) (3 March 2002) (3143 Screens)

Gross: $114,660,784 (Worldwide) (4 July 2002)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | Argentina:  | Germany: (cut)  | Spain:  | Turkey: (TV version)

Did You Know?

875,000 feet of film was shot - roughly 150 hours. It took the editing team 6 days - day and night - to watch it all.

Factual errors: In the second night of the battle there appears a full Moon, but in reality on 11/15/1965 the Moon was in the 3rd quarter.

[first lines]
French Captain: [in French; subtitled] Anything?
French Lieutenant: [in French] No, Captain.
French Captain: [in French] Fucking heat. Fucking grass. Fucking country.
[a Vietnamese bullet suddenly hits him in the head]

User Review

A Vietnam Veteran Contemplates WE WERE Soldiers

Rating: 10/10

I live with a Vietnam Vet who served in the late 1960s with 1st Cav. Medivac. During service he earned two Purple Hearts, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Medal. Since WE WERE SOLDIERS concerns the 1st Cav., Randy wanted to see it. I reluctantly agreed; I am not partial to war films and I dislike Mel Gibson, and Randy is very hard on Vietnam War films. He dismisses PLATOON as a Hollywood 8x10 glossy; says APOCALYPSE NOW is an interesting movie that captures the paranoia, but all the technical details are wrong; and describes DEER HUNTER as excellent in its depiction of the strangeness of coming home but so full of plot holes that he can hardly endure it. And about one and all he says: "It wasn't like that."

He was silent through the film, and when we left the theatre I asked what he thought. He said, "They finally got it. That's what it was like. All the details are right. The actors were just like the men I knew. They looked like that and they talked like that. And the army wives too, they really were like that, at least every one I ever knew." The he was silent for a long time. At last he said, "You remember the scene where the guy tries to pick up a burn victim by the legs and all the skin slides off? Something like that happened to me once. It was at a helicopter crash. I went to pick him up and all the skin just slid right off. It looked just like that, too. I've never told any one about it." In most respects WE WERE SOLDIERS is a war movie plain and simple. There are several moments when the film relates the war to the politics and social movements that swirled about it, and the near destruction of the 1st. Cav.'s 7th Battalion at Ia Drang clearly arises from the top brass' foolish decision to send the 7th into an obvious ambush--but the film is not so much interested in what was going on at home or at the army's top as it is in what was actually occurring on the ground. And in this it is extremely meticulous, detailed, and often horrifically successful. Neither Randy nor I--nor any one in the theatre I could see--was bored by or dismissive of the film. It grabs you and it grabs you hard, and I can easily say that it is one of the finest war movies I have ever seen, far superior to the likes of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, which seems quite tame in comparison.

Perhaps the single most impressive thing about the film is that it never casts its characters in a heroic light; they are simply soldiers who have been sent to do a job, and they do it knowing the risks, and they do it well in spite of the odds. Mel Gibson, although I generally despise him as both an actor and a human being, is very, very good as commanding officer Hal Moore, and he is equaled by Sam Elliot, Greg Kinnear, Chris Klein, and every other actor on the battlefield. The supporting female cast, seen early in the film and in shorter scenes showing the home front as the battle rages, is also particularly fine, with Julie Moore able to convey in glance what most actresses could not communicate in five pages of dialogue. The script, direction, cinematography, and special effects are sharp, fast, and possess a "you are there" quality that is very powerful.

I myself had a criticism; there were points in the film when I found the use of a very modernistic, new-agey piece of music to be intrusive and out of place. And we both felt that a scene near the end of the movie, when a Vietnamese commander comments on the battle, to be improbable and faintly absurd. But these are nit-picky quibbles. WE WERE SOLDIERS is a damn fine movie. I'll give Randy, who served two tours of duty in Vietnam, the last word: "It may not be 'the' Vietnam movie. I don't think there could ever be 'the' Vietnam movie. But they pretty much get everything right. That's how it looked and sounded, and that's what I saw, and this is the best movie about Vietnam I've ever seen." Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer


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