This is a story, told from the protagonists's viewpoint (Matthew Modine as "Joker"), of his recruit training at Parris Island (USMC) and his deployment to Viet Nam during the war. The movie is split pretty evenly between boot camp and Viet Nam.
R. Lee Ermey plays the drill instructor (D.I.) of the platoon and is everything you've imagined in your nightmnares about basic training in the Marines. As the platoon moves through its training, one of the recruits Vincent D'Onofrio ("Leonard") does an excellent turn as the overweight, dumbass who is constantly getting "special attention" from the D.I.
The night before the recruits are to graduate from boot camp, Joker is on fire-watch and finds Leonard in the head with a loaded rifle in his hands. Leonard has obviously flipped-out and when the D.I. finds the recruits in the head and attempts to get the rifle away from Leonard, Leonard shoots the D.I. and then blows the back of his head off right in front of Joker.
Flash to Viet Nam. Joker is now a reporter with Stars and Stripes and is teamed up with RafterMan a photographer. They are stationed at Da Nang, and are involved in the big Tet offensive which almost overran South Viet Nam.
Joker and RafterMan head out into "the shit" and eventually link up with Cowboy, a friend of Joker's from basic training. They stay with that platoon and get into assaults on some population centers/cities. Cowboy is killed by a sniper, and Joker joins the rest of the squad in ferreting out the sniper - who turns out to be a woman.
Joker finds the sniper in a building, and when he tries to shoot her, his rifle jams. RafterMan comes along and shoots the sniper. She doesn't die right away, and the squad forms a circle around her body as she begs them to kill her. Joker reluctantly does.
The squad then rejoins their unit and are last seen marching off to what will most likely be yet another battle.
Continuity mistake: In the opening scene, Gunnery Sgt. Hartman is making his speech and passes by Privates Cowboy and Joker on his way to the other side of the barracks. On his way he passes Private Pyle standing to the right of Private Joker. Later in the scene, when he rushes over to confront Private Joker and then moves on to Private Cowboy and then Private Pyle, Private Pyle is on the left of Private Joker. (00:02:00)
Trivia: R. Lee Ermey actually wrote all of Gunny Hartman's dialog himself. Ermey was involved in a serious car accident right before shooting, so Kubrick invited Ermey to come stay at his house in England to recover. While recovering Ermey read the script over and over, and he remarked that the Drill Instructor's dialog that was in the script was obviously the work of a screenwriter with a cliche imagination who obviously had no idea what boot camp was really like. So Kubrick allowed Ermey to re-write all of the dialog himself.RJR99SS
Join the mailing list
Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.