Well-produced and directd with an eye to documentary-like realism and authenticity, pic centers upon a military undertaking of familiar futility during the Vietnam War. It follows a squad of 14 recruits from initial R&R through 10 days’ worth of hell, as the men make 11 agonizing assaults on a heavily fortified hill.
First 40 minutes attempt to show the developing relationships among the guys, and screenwriter-coproducer Jim Carabatsos has been particularly attentive to delineating the tensions between the blacks and whites in the group.
More than an hour is devoted to the protected effort to scale the indistinguished piece of Vietnamese real estate of the title. As physically impressive as some of it is, the action also proves dispiriting and depressing, as the soldiers slide helplessly down the muddy slopes in the rain and are inevitably picked off by enemy gunfire.
Director John Irvin, who shot a documentary in Vietnam in 1969, the year the action takes place, makes fine use of the Philippines locations and the verisimilitude supplied by the production team.