I can't recall a dramatic feature telling the story of Australian and New Zealand troops in the Vietnam War, and this is one of the main attractions of Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan.
The other is the realistic re-enactments of this horrific battle, in which you can see and hear the bullets flying past the soldiers.
Based on a true story, director Kriv Stenders (Red Dog) puts faces to some of the names of just over one hundred inexperienced young Kiwi and Aussie soldiers who held off an advance from more than 2500 Northern Vietnamese soldiers in the battle of Long Tan in 1966.
The set-up introduces us to a variety of characters, including experienced, possible PTSD-suffering professional soldier Major Harry Smith (Travis Fimmel), who isn't impressed he's babysitting a bunch of conscripts. Overnight their camp is attacked and in the morning Smith takes his company out to search for the enemy.
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After a lengthy introduction to a few more characters, we spend the second half of the film trapped with Smith and his company in a rubber plantation, overrun and exposed in what feels like an impossible situation.
As the monsoon rains fall their ammunition runs out and all the soldiers can do is hold their ground and hope for backup. This is slow to arrive, and we switch from the battle to camp headquarters, where their superiors argue about the best way to save the men.
There are many ways this one-sided story could have been told, but Stenders has chosen to focus on accurately portraying the battle; so for those interested in the machinations of warfare Danger Close is an intense, exhausting and visceral experience.
Perhaps the most moving moment is the end credits as we see pictures of the real soldiers the characters are based on – a simple reminder to never forget.
Director: Kriv Stenders
Cast: Travis Fimmel, Richard Roxburgh
Running Time: 118 mins
Rating: R13 (Violence & offensive language)
Verdict: Battle footage is impressive and authentic but narrative unfolds in a predictable manner.