When Vietnam films flooded the market following the mammoth mid-‘80s success of “Platoon,” “Hamburger Hill” was lost in the shuffle. The gritty and sporadically powerful ensemble piece is now being re-released on DVD in a special 20th anniversary edition, although the film’s 20th anni was actually last year.
With a fresh-faced young cast that includes Dylan McDermott, Courtney B. Vance, Steven Weber and Don Cheadle (in a small but pivotal role), “Hill” is a largely apolitical combat pic about a platoon’s Sisyphean attempts to take Hill 937 from a deeply embedded enemy who they rarely see. Drawing from real-life experiences, screenwriter Jim Carabatsos takes part in a well-organized group commentary that he shares with three of the film’s lesser-known actors: Danny O’Shea, Harry O’Reilly and Anthony Barrille. McDermott, Vance and Weber show up in a brief making-of doc, but Cheadle is noticeably MIA.
The short “Medics in Vietnam” alternates interviews between castmembers and war vets, who detail the grisly duty of combat doctors.
For history buffs, the disc also includes a simple interactive timeline of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.