|DVD My Lai Four
Run time: 101 min
Director: Paolo Bertola
Writers: Giovanni Paolucci, Stefano Pomilia
Stars: Beau Ballinger, Yvette Yzon, Alvin Anson
|Plot Keywords: my lai massacre|
Release Date: January 2011 (UK)
Budget: €2,000,000 (estimated)
The My Lai Massacre took place in 1968. This movie was made in 2011. That is 44 years before ANYBODY had the balls to make a movie on the subject. The closest being Ralph Nelson's Soldier Blue, which suffered from a bad music soundtrack. Oliver Stone was going to do this, then switched to Charles Manson. Rob Zombie is doing a modern day "Salem Witch Coven" movie. Tarantino is making another "Hostel". I read Sam Peckinpah considered doing a movie about this in 1970, but quickly backed out. The most evil thing to me is that the few guys in the platoons involved who refused to fire were later outed and targeted as cowards and traitors and dead animals were left on their doorsteps. There was and is a psychotic element in America who still thinks William Laws Calley Jr was an American hero. This movie says he wasn't. I saw it on another site with Vietnamese subtitles. Obviously they appreciated it. The film is sloppy and tame but it still has balls. Not bad for an Italian cable film.
As many may be aware, the massacre at the Son My hamlets of My Lai and My Khe in early 1968 by elements of the 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, is the most well-known of several massacres of Vietnamese civilians carried out by US forces during the Vietnam war.
The incident itself was largely a legacy of the draft for Vietnam and the one year 'tour of duty' policy, which bled away experienced career soldiers from the fight, resulting in the drafting and training of poor quality officers to fill the gaps; men who were often completely unsuitable for command. These men were then told that 'the body count' was their yardstick of success, setting the stage for indiscriminate killing of civilians to become widespread when soldiers were out on patrol under such leadership. Such a culture meant that the My Lai massacre might never come to light at all had it not been for the brave actions of a reconnaissance helicopter crew who, upon witnessing the carnage taking place, landed at the village and put a stop to matters, and even then the military attempted to cover it up.
So, a deep subject then, quite relevant too given that there is a 'new Vietnam' in Afghanistan; thus one deserving of serious treatment if a drama is to be made about the matter, and one from which we might learn something too if it was done right. Films about war atrocities are certainly not easy to make and often not easy to watch either, but Schindler's List proves that it can be done. Which makes it particularly staggering to find that this movie is not so much a serious attempt to tell the tale with the kind of gravitas it warrants, but rather more like bad action movie to the extent that it is actually laughable. That in itself is a remarkable achievement; to make a film about such an horrendous event that – for all the wrong reasons – can actually make you laugh at its ineptitude. We should be crying whilst watching a movie about this subject material! Being interested in the Vietnam war, I had hoped this would be a film which might dare to examine the motivations and singular scapegoating of William Calley. To put the spotlight of justice on his superior officers in perpetrating such a terrible deed, to question the cover ups and policies which led to such an appalling turn of events, and to take a really good long look at the morality of soldiers in combat when they are pressured to deliver a body count. But nooo – from the cheap, nasty backdrop of frankly inept CGI UH-1D helicopters, to the woefully poor acting and casting, plus a terrible script, cookie-cutter soundtrack, poor storytelling and editing that is all over the place, this film is like a masterclass on how not to make a movie and – criminally – an opportunity missed to make something that could have been a genuinely worthy piece of self-examinatory film-making with regard to military policies.
Some of the close up camera work and lighting is okay to be fair, but then the 'actors' open their wooden mouths and attempt some of the atrociously bad dialogue and we're firmly brought back to FNG film-making territory once more. Couple this with the fact that several Vietnamese villager characters randomly switch between speaking subtitled Vietnamese and English for no readily discernible reason and the bewilderment continues. The result is that if you haven't stopped your DVD player and decided the DVD of this movie would serve you better as a drinks coaster, then you actually can't wait for the soldiers to get on with slaughtering the rotten actors playing the villagers just so the sound of frag grenades and gunfire will drown out the risible dialogue and offer a welcome smoke screen to mask am-dram standard 'acting'.
This isn't just the worst movie about the Vietnam war, it's the worst movie of all time. Moreover it's an insult to the victims of the real event. Avoid this DVD at all costs, that is unless you need a drinks coaster.
It is difficult to really place your finger on what went wrong with this movie. Many of the actors seem to have been chosen because they have an Asian face but can speak English with an American accent. The problem is, they can't act. The lead actress is in fact Fillipino which explains her terrible Vietnamese when she seems to have been forced to speak it. Either stick with English, or use real Vietnamese Actors who CAN act and subtitle it.
The dialogue is atrocious. One scene has a black actor telling people repeatedly that they are 'Bustin' his balls'. They should have had Tony Soprano playing that role. The hysterical shrieking and looped, "Oh my God!!!! Somebody help me!!!! Ah, my leg!!!!!" made me want to stick mute on for a while or reach for a gun and shoot the guy myself. I was relieved when a mine sorted out his agony. The rest of the soldiers are all caricatures of other films. You know, the virgin guy with the big black specs, the red-neck with his ammo belts and cigar, the wise black sergeant shouted down by the white man. Oh dear.
The CGI just sucks. Really sucks. What did they blow the budget on that meant they couldn't hire a few Huey Cobras for a few days?
I was hoping for a solid portrayal of the problems the rural Vietnamese faced when confronted on one day to join the VC and the next day to befriend the Republican forces. My Lai was portrayed as some idyllic village in a 'land that time forgot' kind of way. The people portrayed as simpletons completely devoid of any knowledge of what to do when confronted by soldiers. Anyone would think that Vietnam hadn't faced decades of war prior to this and that the last thing people would do was to run when confronted with soldiers. You don't need to be an expert on Vietnamese history to know this. Read a few autobiographies.
In short, give this movie a miss. It's even worse than 'When Heaven and Earth Changed Places"
Seriously through, don't even waste time to watch it. Most of the actors can't even act, and yet it is very disturbing. Dialogue and camera shot are the worst and i can't believe they spent 2,000,000 on this crap.
Casting is also very awful. They hired Filipino actress to play the leading role which is very ridiculous and it shows her weird Vietnamese accent. They should have hired Vietnamese to play this role instead of her. Well I don't have a problem with her acting, but I think they should cast "Right people" to play the "Right Role"
It's just worst and worst, don't watch it!