The Odd Angry Shot DVD
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Directed by Tom Jeffery
Produced in 1979
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - Australasian Film
John Hargreaves, Graham Kennedy
Vietnam, 1967, and the Australian SAS are sent to assist the American forces. For four friends in the unit, unsure why they are in a war they did not start, their defence is their humour, backed up by bawdy pranks, beer, fights and scorpion racing. But when bullets start to come out of the jungle and the combat patrols become paralysingly real, then the laughter stops and the reality hits them with a shocking impact. Survival becomes the main objective. The film presents the hilarity and horror of the soldiers' situation while aiming barbed sentiments at the politicians who sent them there and then forgot about them.
Length: 87 mins
Cat No: FCE018
Format: DVD Colour
“An Australian interpretation of the Vietnam War, ie. not angst ridden or gung-ho”
by Ainsley Morthorpe on 26th March 2011
This film follows a section of Australian SAS in the middle period of the Vietnam War. The unit is small, which allows for a lot of character development. There is a... Read on
This film follows a section of Australian SAS in the middle period of the Vietnam War. The unit is small, which allows for a lot of character development. There is actually very little 'action' in the film, although there is enough to ensure you don't forget they are at war, not on R&R. These soldiers are also professional volunteers, very highly trained, and this all combines to set the tone of the film - they are not apologising for the war, they are not glorifying it and they are definitely not wallowing in angst. This is all the more interesting because it was made in 1979 at the height of the hippy hysteria about the evils of the West and the military. Perhaps it is a nice social comment on the Australian attitude generally about the Australian involvement in the Vietnam War.
The film is not arty, it is about the men's relationship with each other and how they work together as a team to support themselves psychologically so as to ensure they will survive, but will also do a good job. It shows nicely how they all depend on each other, and the fierce tribalism that such a small unit will develop.
The film makers made a big effort to ensure historical and technical accuracy. The level of criticism from knowledgeable military watchers is about how close they are when patrolling (some artistic license is made by the director, Tom Jeffrey, as he said otherwise you just wouldn't have seen anyone in the shots) and if the section leader should have been a sergeant or the corporal he is portrayed as in the film (there were corporals leading sections of SAS in the war, so not a major flaw then).
The casting of a popular comedian, Graham Kennedy, as the section leader seems to have divided opinion amongst viewers/reviewers as some feel he didn't have the acting skill or enough gravitas to do justice to the role. I personally thought he was good, although was never going to win an oscar for this film. There is a common theme in all the obituaries of the more than 20 Australian soldiers who have died recently in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in that they were almost universally regarded as 'Larrikins', an Australian term that now describes a bloke who has a pretty juvenile sense of humour and is highly irreverent but at his core is still a good bloke and fiercely loyal to his mates. Having a comedian for the role therefore I think was a stroke of genius in trying to capture what makes this a very Australian film about Australian soldiers. Great blokes, fantastic soldiers, but don't let them near your 18 year old daughter, and keep your beer fridge locked. Don't try and bullshit them with bureaucratic nonsense either.
I'd give this about 3 and a half stars. Half a star is simply in being able to watch a film about Vietnam that isn't trying to smash a political or ideological point down your throat.