Full Metal Jacket  -
One of a series of revisionist Vietnam cinema released in the late 1980s, Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket is essentially split into two stories linked by a number of characters. The film follows new recruit Joker (Matthew Modine) and his fellow soldiers through their basic training and into combat in Vietnam. The first half is a chilling portrayal of military brutality and de-humanisation, mainly at the hands of Sgt Hartman (played at a level of staggering intensity by ex-Marine Lee Ermey), that centres around the tragic character of Private Pyle, a young man pushed to the edge of his endurance. The tone of the film is no less harsh when transported to the combat zone as we see the results of the training process in action: the young men turned into unquestioning killing machines. Joker is perhaps the one exception, a soldier with "Born to Kill" written on his helmet who also sports a peace sign on his lapel. But the film finds itself caught in the trap of many of the war movies of the time--how to create audience empathy with characters who are essentially in the wrong. It's a dilemma that Full Metal Jacket never really solves, although as a spectacle the film is a masterpiece. Made in the days before CGI became the norm, the battle sequences--filmed, rather bizarrely, in London's Docklands before its redevelopment--are hugely realistic and are perhaps the key moments of the movie, heightening the disorientation and fear felt by the soldiers. By offering no more than a snapshot of the Vietnam conflict (the action deals with one individual skirmish), Kubrick cleverly leaves any judgement on the war to the audience, although clearly attempting to influence them. The fate of the characters who survive is also left in the balance, but we can perhaps imagine what awaits them.
On the DVD: Part of a series of Kubrick DVD reissues, Full Metal Jacket has been treated to the full remastering and restoration treatment. The battle sequences have benefited the most, gaining a new audio and visual crispness and clarity that adds to their already impressive sense of realism--you can almost feel the heat searing from the screen and the explosions detonating around you. Maybe not the best war film ever made, as some may claim, but certainly one to take you right to the heart of the action. --Phil Udell
Customer reviews (av rating: 4.5):
a good film to watch : This is a good film to watch when there is nothing to do!
The acting is good and the props used in the film were top notch!
This is an entertaining film to watch!
Best Vietnam Movie Ever Made : When I first saw Full Metal Jacket about 5 years ago, I was stunned by it. A friend had lent me a VHS copy and I watched it out of general boredom, but the boredom went after the first five minutes of the film.
Kubrick is a genius!
I then started to search on the net for more information about the film and to my surprise, I discovered that most of it had been made in UK, with London Docklands doubling for Vietnam!
This took the wind out of my sails as knowing both UK and USA, I can generally tell the difference (particularly when Americans make movies about UK - "Gor blimey Guv!" and all that).
This one was good.You have to be a real "picky" s.o.b. to spot the seams.
I've watched it a number of times to see what I reconise - parts of the old destroyed Docklands are recognisable (only just and then only to someone who knew them). The training camp (I think) is Bordon Army Camp in Hampshire.
But, apart from all that is one great movie.
Buy and enjoy.
"...classic, gritty and very raw ..." : 'Full Metal Jacket' is definitely a classic, gritty and very raw interpretation of military service during the Vietnam War. The film is essentially split in to two distinct parts: 1. boot camp where we first meet the recruits (also where we meet real life Marine R. Lee Ermey whose performance is intense to say the least as the Drill Instructor); 2. conflict in Vietnam itself. This division creates two distinct stories that, whilst relevant to one another, could be completely stand-alone but instead ground each other nicely and develop the stories of several of the characters far more.
There are a lot of good war films, but `Full Metal Jacket' falls into the same category as `Apocalypse Now' in that it is such a milestone. Sadly it's not as grand in scale as the epic that is `Apocalypse Now' and not nearly as rounded, but it does explore the psyche of your average soldier unprepared for war to a much greater degree and could easily be argued to be far more "real" than the aforementioned.
It is a must see and deserves to be hailed as one of the best war films of all time, but you'll be sorry when it ends far too soon.
Best Vietnam film ever made. : This film is astounding, the sets for the battle scenes were absolutely amazing for the time (1987), which I suppose could only be expected from Kubrick. Set to a fitting soundtrack with deeply purposeful characters, this is easily the best movie made about the Vietnam war. 5 stars.
Aspect comment : Great film. To answer the previous poster's comment the original negative is closer to full screen than anything else. Anything wider is masked. 1.33:1 gives more of the frame as shot.
Buy "Full Metal Jacket " now!