Film Review: Charlie 84 MoPic

The literary device of presenting a story via ‘found’ media such as diaries and such like has a long history, notably Stoker’s Dracula. The filmic equivalent is the ‘found footage’ film, ostensibly the film is made up of a diegetic recording of the events. Again, this is common in the horror genre Starting with 1980’s Cannibal Holocaust* and arguably reaching its zenith with 1999’s Blair Witch Project. The trope isn’t that common in other genres so when I chanced upon a Vietnam film using this device I quickly tracked down a copy to watch.

 

Charlie 84 MoPic, refering to the Military Operational Specialism of a camera man, follows an Airborne Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) going behind enemy lines to gain intelligence on the working of the Viet Cong/ National Liberation Front. The conceit is that the 6-man patrol is being followed by the cameraman, and an accompanying Lieutenant, to produce a filmic record of best practice as a training aid for future LRRP teams.  The LRRP teams were a divisional asset, introduced to provide information for high command with their long-range penetration capabilities. Often wearing the iconic ‘tiger stripe’ camouflaged uniforms, they probed deep in to enemy areas for days or weeks at a time. The men that made up such units were the elite of their formations, highly skilled and self-disciplined, able to take the mental pressure of such work.

Filmed on a tiny, for Hollywood at least, budget in California, this 1989 film stands apart from bigger better-known Vietnam films. It offers a raw portrayal of a small group of men bonded by combat. Using pathos and intimacy rather than spectacle to tell its story.

Still some of the ‘Nam film stereotypes creep in (they may well be stereotypes for a reason of course) in the cast of characters, the joker who is due to leave theatre imminently, the redneck, the strong silent type, the cold, efficient Sgt, the career minded Officer- in this film he may be inexperienced and a little naive about the realities of combat but he is open about his ambition and portrayed as having some competencies.

The film shows the men going about their mission with the drag of having two FNGs** with them, the cameraman, of whom very little is seen all film, and the Lt. get some of the men to open up about their past. The levelling factor of combat and the bond it engenders is really brought to the fore here, crossing racial and social divides the men are committed to each other knowing that they have faith in each other and their trust. The Lt. and cameraman are clearly outsiders and interlocuters in this who will never gain acceptance in to this elite club.

As for the Viet Cong they hardly appear in the film only really being seen from a distance or when deceased, whilst this marginalisation of them could be seen as problematic today the film is really just about men in combat and their relationships. Obviously, the patrol runs into trouble; even though the film is 30 years old, I won’t got into details and spoil it for you as if you haven’t seen the film I urge you to do so. It is up in its entirety on You Tube. I’d put it up there as one of the better Vietnam war films.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096744/

 

*Whilst it is easy to dismiss Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust as a violent, reprehensible video nasty (which is certainly is/ was) it also serves the purpose of social commentary. Deodato’s story of ignorant filmmakers being killed by the indigenous people they are there to film was a kind of which fulfilment of his based on the action of the truly reprehensible Italian mondo film makers Jacopetti and Properi’s Africa Addio. For more on the horrific but fascinating world of mondo films I can recommend this book.

 

**Fucking New Guy

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24 comments on “Film Review: Charlie 84 MoPic

  1. brtrain says:

    This is a good one, if a bit forced in spots. I have it on an old VHS!

    • Pete S/ SP says:

      The acting is a bit ropey in parts but not everyone is comfortable around a camera I guess (could be an explanation for it).

      Still have some old VHS too but lost the means to play them on… probably a warning there about the durability of digital storage….

      Cheers,

      Pete.

  2. Cheers Pete, I shall check this out on YouTube 👍

  3. Bill Weston says:

    Nice review there Mr S. Will have to borrow it from you.

  4. Sounds like my cup of tea. I’ll check it out and let you know what I think. Do you listen to podcasts mate? If you do you should give Last Podcast on the left a go. Think it’s be right up your alley. An episode I listened to recently talked about Cannibal Holocaust.

    • Pete S/ SP says:

      Thanks- let me know what you reckon to it. Not one for podcasts… I find it a bit odd just to listen to people talk when I’m just sat there but I’ll give that one a go.

      Cheers,

      Pete.

      • I never used to be either but now I’m right into them. They just have to be informative or interesting enough. Lots of bad ones out there

      • Pete S/ SP says:

        It isa more that I feel a bit wierd listening to people just talk with no pictures. Listening to music is one thing, watching a documentary is another but podcasts seems to fall in between stools for me often… I was never one for the radio much, might have something to do with it….

        Cheers,

        Pete.

      • Yeah that’s fair. I’ve only just got into them and for me it’s all about the content and delivery. I’ve listened to some really bad podcasts with cool subjects and really bad subjects with good delivery haha. I hope you’ll have a listen to me and my mates one. We are literally going to wing it and chat about everything and anything. The first episode, I predict, will be a bit awkward but hopefully they’ll get better. We are literally just hitting the record button and see what unfolds.

      • Pete S/ SP says:

        Don’t worry I’ll definately give yours a listen- I liked your You Tube videos.

        Cheers,

        Pete.

      • Haha cheers man. We’ll need all the support we can get I reckon

  5. Ah, the FNG, that’s good old Army stuff!

  6. Didn’t like it man. Watched it two nights ago and have been thinking about why I didn’t like it since then. I think it’s oartly due to the fact of the quality of the film. I wouldn’t usually say I notice such things but the low budget and low budget actors/acting kind of stood out too much for me. Funny though because one of the reasons I liked Texas chainsaw massacre so much was due to the low grainy quality and budget. The actors just weren’t believable enough for me. My favourite Vietnam movie is casualties of war but my favourite Vietnam show of all time is Tour Of Duty.

    • Pete S/ SP says:

      Fair enough- I know what you mean – the quality of acting isn’t great, but I liked that I didn’t recognise any of the cast. Personally I have a hard time watching films where I recognise the cast (I know that rules out most blockbusters) as they tend to play the same character over and over. Love Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Tour of Duty. I think my favourite ‘Nam film is Full Metal Jacket on balance.

      Cheers,

      Pete.

      • Full metal jacket was awesome in the first half but dragged for me in the second. Still a great classic though. I think if it’s a good actor he/she should convince you you’re not watching “them” but their character. I was talking to my daughter about type cast actors and I think it’d be awadul to be type cast. Sure you’re still getting paid but I think diversity and challenges would be more fun. She loves Rebel Wilson and I said yeah she’s funny but she’s always the same in every movie. Same went for Juliette Lewis back in the day. She was always the awkward and nervous girl next door who was a little unhinged haha. Where as actors like brad Pitt are so versatile. Sure he’s a pretty boy but he can also ply a crazed serial killer (Kalifornia (also starting Juliette Lewis haha) and then tank commander in Fury.

      • Pete S/ SP says:

        I agree. Brad Pitt is a decent actor- he hasn’t turned shit yet like several actors a bit older than him. People like Robert De Niro were fantastic when they were younger but now they just seem jaded and just do the bare minimum….

        Cheers,

        Pete.

      • Agreed. Anthony Hopkins is one who has always stood the test of time for me. Maybe he’s not as versatile these days due to his age but in his hay day he was awesome

      • Pete S/ SP says:

        Not so sure on Hopkins- he does some good roles but can be prone to overacting in a very thespian way in others. Which would you say are his best films?

        Cheers,

        Pete.

      • Silence of the lambs is my favourite of his. I also liked him as William Bligh and the movie The Edge where became a very unassuming hero.

      • Pete S/ SP says:

        Not seen those two- I’ll look them up.

        Cheers,

        Pete.

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