It is no secret that many films have often tried to convey the true horrors of war. Films ranging from “Platoon”, “Saving Private Ryan”, and “Apocalypse Now”, have attempted to convey the carnage and brutality of war by showing it through the eyes of individuals who were not prepared for the reality of combat.
In the film “1968 Tunnel Rats” controversial director Uwe Boll has crafted a solid and moving depiction of war, brutality, and how fragile the human psyche can be.
Set in 1968 Vietnam, the film tells the story of a group of soldiers who operate from a jungle camp under the command of LT. Hollowborn (Michael Pare).
The new arrivals are welcomed by their fellow soldiers and the early moments of the film focuses on the life in the camp, ranging from bad food and showers, gambling, smoking, their homes, and bibles. All of this of course is secondary to what the new arrivals really want to know, and that is how to survive. As the men bond we get to see the dreary nature of their lives, as they are surrounded by danger, and use faith and dreams of what life will be like when they return home to keep them going. One individual dreams of opening a hamburger franchise and sees this as the wave of the future.
The camp is not without issues as the execution of an enemy sniper draws the ire of some of the men, who see it as murder. Nonetheless, a squad sets off in the morning to patrol the jungle and investigate a newly discovered tunnel.
The Vietcong have hundreds of miles of tunnels in the countryside, and when discovered soldiers enter the tunnel and explore. Since the tunnels are trapped and rife with danger, the unit usually asks for volunteers to go first, and the newly discovered tunnel is no exception as the squad soon finds themselves under attack.
As events unfold, the survivors find themselves forced to seek refuge in the dark and claustrophobic tunnels and survive the constant dangers that face them both below and above ground in a desperate battle for survival.
Boll wrote, directed, and produced the film, and has crafted a solid war film that is easily his best work. While the characters are not all fleshed out, you see them as real people and their flaws make them all the more real.
The action scenes are solid if at times hampered by some jerky camera work, but the violence of the film is a stark contrast to the beauty of the African locale which substituted for Vietnam.
The story of the tunnels is a dimension of the war that has not been fully explored in many previous films, and Boll uses them in many ways as the main character of the film as the actions and outcomes of all the characters in the film are in some way related to the tunnels.
While more character development might would have been nice, the film is a solid effort that shows that Boll should focus his efforts on more original work than his customary video game adaptations, as “1968 Tunnel Rats”, is a not only his best film, but an effective war film.
3.5 stars out of 5