Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Iron Triangle



THE IRON TRIANGLE (1989)

Directed by: Eric Weston
Written by: John A. Bushelman, Larry Hilbrand, Eric Weston
Starring: Beau Bridges, Hain S. Ngor, Liem Whatley, Johnny Hallyday

Corking Vietnam War film, The Iron Triangle may not be Full Metal Jacket or Platoon but is still a hard hitting war flick with some impressive combat scenes. Featuring some awesome jungle location work the flick sees tough and hard headed soldier Captain Keene (Bridges) seeing combat in the area known as 'The Iron Triangle': the bloodiest and most perilous area in the war zone. Pushing forward into this zone, Keene and his men come up against Colonel Tuong (Ngor) and his army and after much combat and loss of life, Keene finds himself captured. Beaten, tortured and humiliated his life looks to be over until a sympathetic Vietcong soldier, Ho (Whatley), shows mercy on him and they flee into the jungle hunted by Ho's comrades.



So a ropey bond of trust is formed as the two rely on each other and soon learn that they aren't that different: just fighting for different countries. Based on the personal diary of a Vietcong soldier, The Iron Triangle may be a little too polished and succumb to movie trappings (the need for more action, stirring music to evoke emotion) to be a truly realistic portrayal of the soldier's experiences but it sure gives it a good go and doesn't shy away from the violent atrocities. Why it never lingers on the violence and the gore is tame by today’s standards, The Iron Triangle still contains some graphic war violence. The film is often hard hitting, showing how a soldier's life was cruelly expendable and it doesn't shy away from showing the horror of war combat.



The big fire-fight and battle scenes are staged with aplomb with lots of explosive firepower and napalm destroying action and it is pretty much non-stop. The characters barely have time to rest between exchanges of firepower and the film achieves a certain relentlessness which in turn creates some impressive tension and come the finale battle, reaches quite a stirring climax. Bridges and Whatley infuse their characters with humanity and we get to see the war from both their sides. Despite the ordeal they share they never truly change, despite coming to respect one another, still believing they are fighting for the right side.

Not as trashy as a lot of Italian made war films but not quite reaching the gravitas of say Apocalypse Now, The Iron Triangle falls somewhere in between: providing mucho grand scale 80s action goodness while having something to say at the same time. Just the right side of exploitation, The Iron Triangle is well worth seeking out, especially if you are into war/combat movies.

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