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DVD Review

DVD cover

Massacre at My Lai Four


Starring: Beau Ballinger and Joe Suba
Scanbox Entertainment
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: 15
Available 04 April 2011

The Vietnam War created many instances of both heroism and brutality on both sides, one of the most brutal events occurred at My Lai, a small fishing village, which had the misfortune to encounter Charlie Company, after a particularly savage engagement. Having lost some of their number the grieving member of the company decides to exact retribution on the village by massacring the inhabitants...

Massacre at My Lai Four (2011 - 1 hr, 41 min, 08 sec) is a war film, based on real events, directed by Paolo Bertola and written by Giovanni Paolucci and Stefano Pomilia. If the plot appears familiar, the same event, although unnamed was covered in Oliver Stone’s Platoon (1986), a far superior film.

The film was made on a shoestring, and unfortunately it shows. In a similar fashion to Platoon, we are introduced to the characters, both Vietnamese. I’m guessing that at some point I should have cared about Charlie Company, but the fact that the script is so woefully packed with clichés and average acting means that it's near impossible to connect with the characters.

The film also shows life from the perspective of the villagers but there is something very wrong with the scenes of the Vietnamese; I kept staring at the picture but still couldn’t decide whether all their vocal work had been badly dubbed or if the sound and picture had gone out of synch, either way it makes for a distracting and disconcerting experience, which adds nothing to the film. My money is with a poor dub as when they speak in their native language the lips go back into synch.

Only a DVD-R rip was provided for review so it is difficult to say anything positive about either the quality of the picture or the soundtrack. The review picture was a little elongated, which looked like the aspect ratio was not being properly reproduced. The editing of the film can be quite pacy, with a lot of jump cut, however when these are used in the village scenes, the effect is too distracting.

I’m not really sure what the point of this film was, after all it had neither the budget or personal experience to better Platoon, certainly it does not do the American characters any favours, who behave no better than as they are portrayed, as foul mouthed, monstrous murderers, with little or no redeeming qualities, who ultimately literally got away with the murder of men, women and children.

It’s not all bad there are some sequences which are quite effective, especially the growing madness of Lt. William Calley (Beau Ballinger) though these are rather spoilt by the overall lack of quality and the liberal borrowings from better films.

The finished disc should have some extras, but these were not supplied so no comment can be passed.


Charles Packer

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