We Were Soldiers (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)

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We Were Soldiers (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)

We Were Soldiers is a 2002 war film written and directed by Randall Wallace and starring Mel Gibson. Based on the book We Were Soldiers Once… and Young (1992) by Lieutenant General (Ret.) Hal Moore and reporter Joseph L. Galloway, it dramatizes the Battle of Ia Drang on November 14, 1965.


In 1954 a French unit (based loosely on the Groupement Mobile No. 100) on patrol during the First Indochina War is ambushed by Viet Minh forces. Viet Minh commander Nguyen Huu An orders his soldiers to kill all they send, and they will stop coming .

Eleven years later, the United States is fighting the Vietnam War. US Army Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore is chosen to train and lead a battalion. After arriving in Vietnam, he learns that an American base has been attacked and is ordered to take his 400 men after the enemy and eliminate the North Vietnamese attackers although intelligence has no idea of the number of enemy troops. Moore leads a newly-created air cavalry unit into the Ia Drang Valley. After landing, the soldiers capture a North Vietnamese soldier and learn from him that the location they were sent to is actually the base camp for a veteran North Vietnamese army division of 4,000 men.

Upon arrival in the area with a platoon of soldiers, 2nd Lt. Henry Herrick spots an enemy scout and runs after him, ordering his reluctant soldiers to follow. The scout lures them into an ambush, which results in several men being killed, including Herrick and his subordinates. The surviving platoon members are surrounded and cut off from the rest of the battalion. Sgt. Savage assumes command, calls in the artillery, and uses the cover of night to keep the Vietnamese from overrunning their defensive position.

Meanwhile, with helicopters constantly dropping off units, Moore manages to secure weak points before the North Vietnamese can take advantage of them. Despite being trapped and desperately outnumbered, the main US force manages to hold off the North Vietnamese with artillery, mortars, and helicopter airlifts of supplies and reinforcements. Eventually, Nguyen Huu An, the commander of the North Vietnamese division, orders a large-scale attack on the American position.

Back in the United States, Julia Moore has become the leader of the American wives who live on the base. When the Army begins to use yellow cab drivers to deliver telegrams that notify the next of kin of the soldiers deaths in combat, Julia personally assumes that emotional responsibility instead.

At the point of being overrun by the enemy, Moore orders 1st Lt. Charlie Hastings, his forward air controller, to call in Broken Arrow, which is a call for all available combat aircraft to assist and attack enemy positions, even those close to the US troops position because a position is being overrun and can no longer be defended. The aircraft attack with bombs, napalm, and machine guns, killing many PAVN and Viet Cong troops, but a friendly fire incident also results in American deaths. The North Vietnamese attack is repelled, and the surviving soldiers of Herrick s cut-off platoon, including Savage, are rescued.

Moore s troops regroup and secure the area. Nguyen Huu An plans a final assault on the Americans and sends most of his troops to carry out the attack, but Moore and his men overrun them and approach the enemy command center. Before the base camp guards can open fire, Major Bruce Snake Crandall and other helicopter gunships attack and destroy the remnant of the enemy force. With no more troops to call on, Huu An quickly orders the headquarters evacuated.

Having achieved his objective, Moore returns to the helicopter landing zone to be picked up. Only after everyone (including the dead and wounded) is removed from the battlefield does he fly out of the valley. Sometime later, Nguyen Huu An and his men arrive on the battlefield to collect their dead. He claims that the Americans will think this was their victory. So this will become an American war .

At the end of the film, it is revealed that the landing zone immediately reverted to North Vietnamese hands after the American troops were airlifted out. Hal Moore continued the battle in a different landing zone, and after nearly a year, he returned home safely to Julia and his family. His superiors congratulate him for killing over 1,800 North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong soldiers. An older Moore visits the Vietnam War memorial and looks at the names of the soldiers who fell at Ia Drang.


  • Mel Gibson as Lieutenant Colonel/Colonel Hal Moore
  • Madeleine Stowe as Julia Moore
  • Greg Kinnear as Major Bruce P. Crandall
  • Sam Elliott as Sergeant Major Basil L. Plumley
  • Chris Klein as 2nd Lieutenant Jack Geoghegan
  • Luke Benward as David Moore
  • Taylor Momsen as Julie Moore
  • Devon Werkheiser as Steve Moore
  • Keri Russell as Barbara Geoghegan
  • Barry Pepper as Joe Galloway
  • Mark McCracken as Captain Ed Too Tall Freeman
  • Đơn Dương as NVA Lieutenant Colonel Nguyễn Hữu An
  • Ryan Hurst as Sergeant Ernie Savage
  • Marc Blucas as 2nd Lieutenant Henry Herrick
  • Jsu Garcia as Captain Tony Nadal
  • Jon Hamm as Captain Matt Dillon
  • Clark Gregg as Captain Tom Metsker
  • Blake Heron as Sp4. Galen Bungum
  • Desmond Harrington as Sp4. Bill Beck
  • Dylan Walsh as Capt. Robert Edwards
  • Brian Tee as Pfc. Jimmy Nakayama
  • Robert Bagnell as 1st Lieutenant Charlie Hastings, USAF
  • Bellamy Young as Catherine LaPlante Metsker
  • Patrick St. Esprit as Maj. Gen. Henry E. Emerson
  • Jim Grimshaw as Maj. Gen. Harry Kinnard

Adaptation from source material

In the source book, We Were Soldiers Once… And Young, Hal Moore complains, Every damn Hollywood movie got wrong. The director, Randall Wallace, said that he was inspired by that comment and became determined to get it right this time.

The film s final version got many of the facts of the book presented onto film but is not entirely a historically accurate portrayal of the battle or entirely faithful to the book. For instance, the film depicts a heroic charge under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore at the end of the battle that destroys the Vietnamese reserve, ending the battle in an American victory (a fact that the director noted in his commentary). In fact, there was no heroic final charge in the book, and the North Vietnamese forces were not destroyed, although the American commander Moore reported 834 enemy bodies and 1215 estimated KIA (one third of the enemy force). The US forces were reduced by 72 out of 395, with 18% fatal casualties. The Vietnamese commander, Lt. Col. Nguyen Huu An, did not see the conclusion at LZ X-Ray as the end of combat, and the battle continued the next day with combat action at LZ Albany, where the 2/7th, with A Company 1/5th, found themselves in a fight for their lives against Lt. Col. Nguyen Huu An s reserve.

Despite the differences from the book and departures from historical accuracy, Moore stated in a documentary included in the video versions that the film was the first one to get right.


The film received mostly positive reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a score of 63% based on 147 reviews, with an average rating of 6.40/10. The consensus reads, The war cliches are laid on a bit thick, but the movie succeeds at putting a human face on soldiers of both sides in the Vietnam War. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 65 out of 100 based on 37 reviews, indicating generally favorable reviews .

Roger Ebert, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, gave We Were Soldiers 3.5 stars out of 4, and praised its truthful and realistic battle scenes and how it follows the characters: Black Hawk Down was criticized because the characters seemed hard to tell apart. We Were Soldiers doesn t have that problem; in the Hollywood tradition it identifies a few key players, casts them with stars, and follows their stories. Lisa Schwarzbaum, from Entertainment Weekly, gave the film a B and noted its fair treatment of both sides: The writer-director bestows honor – generously, apolitically – not only on the dead and still living American veterans who fought in Ia Drang, but also on their families, on their Vietnamese adversaries, and on the families of their adversaries too. Rarely has a foe been portrayed with such measured respect for a separate reality, which should come as a relief to critics (I m one) of the enemy s facelessness in Black Hawk Down; vignettes of gallantry among Vietnamese soldiers and such humanizing visual details as a Vietnamese sweetheart s photograph left behind, in no way interfere with the primary, rousing saga of a fine American leader who kept his promise to his men to leave no one behind dead or alive.

David Sterritt, from the Christian Science Monitor, criticized the film for giving a more positive image of the Vietnam War that, in his opinion, did not concur with reality: The films about Vietnam that most Americans remember are positively soaked in physical and emotional torment – from Platoon, with its grunt s-eye view of combat, to Apocalypse Now, with its exploration of war s dehumanizing insanity. Today, the pendulum has swung back again. If filmmakers with politically twisted knives once sliced away guts-and-glory clichés, their current equivalents hack away all meaningful concern with moral and political questions. We Were Soldiers is shameless in this regard, filling the screen with square-jawed officers who weep at carnage and fresh-faced GIs who use their last breaths to intone things like, I m glad I died for my country.

Todd McCarthy, from Variety, wrote the film presents the fighting realistically, violently and relatively coherently given the chaotic circumstances... McCarthy further wrote, Mel Gibson has the closest thing to a John Wayne part that anyone s played since the Duke himself rode into the sunset, and he plays it damn well. He summarized with, Gibson s performance anchors the film with commanding star power to burn. This officer truly loves his men, and the credibility with which the actor is able to express Moore s leadership qualities as well as his sensitive side is genuinely impressive.

Hal Moore, who had long been critical of many Vietnam War films for their negative portrayals of American servicemen, publicly expressed approval of the film and is featured in segments of the DVD. Some soldiers were less pleased: Retired Col Rick Rescorla, who played an important role in the book and was pictured on the cover (and later died in the September 11 attacks), was disappointed, after reading the script, to learn that he and his unit had been written out of the film. In one key incident, the finding of a vintage French bugle on a dying Vietnamese soldier, the English-born Rescorla is replaced by a nameless Welsh platoon leader.




Arne Schmidt, Bruce Davey, Danielle Lemmon Zapotoczny, Eveleen Bandy, Harold G. Moore, Joseph L. Galloway, Randall Wallace



Published Date






Recording Studio


Amazon ASIN











2h 18min


Awards, 3 wins & 5 nominations


Randall Wallace


Harold G. Moore, Joseph Lee Galloway, Randall Wallace


Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear

Produced by

Eveleen Bandy, Bruce Davey, William Hoy, Jim Lemley, Stephen McEveety, Arne Schmidt, Randall Wallace, Danielle Lemmon Zapotoczny, Stephen Zapotoczny

Music by

Nick Glennie-Smith

Cinematography by

Dean Semler

Film Editing by

William Hoy

Casting By

Cathy Sandrich Gelfond, Amanda Mackey

Production Design by

Thomas E. Sanders

Art Direction by

Daniel T. Dorrance, Kevin Kavanaugh

Set Decoration by

Gary Fettis

Costume Design by

Michael T. Boyd

Makeup Department

Jane Aull, Hallie D Amore, Garrett Immel, Kerry Mendenhall, Beth Buckwalter Miller, Michael Mills, Susan Star Orr, Craig Reardon, Dawn Turner, Michael Burnett

Production Management

Gregg Edler, Angel Pine, Arne Schmidt, Rajeev Malhotra

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director

Cliff Fleming, Allan Graf, Frank Kostenko Jr., Allen Kupetsky, Michelene Mundo, Nilo Otero, Bill Purple, Shannon Speaker, Jey Wada, Kim H. Winther, Lars P. Winther

Art Department

Douglas Beale, Richard J. Bell, Scott Cockerell, Stan Cockerell, Richard Colwell, Daniel B. Foster, Melissa Frye, Bryan D. Garofalo, Rick Glenn, Chuck Herrmann, Bryan Hill, Bill Iiams, Ed Jones, Richard W. Jones, Tyler Kettenburg, C.J. Maguire, Kevin Mangan, John Mann, Naaman Marshall, Tom Miller, Robert Tate Nichols, William Scot Noonan, Dan Ondrejko, Jose Orozco, Erik Polczwartek, Mark Rasmussen, Wendy Richardson, Rich Romig, Nicholas Rymond, Greg Sanger, Ralph Sarabia, Clint Schultz, Terry J. Smith, Dan Sweetman, Jeffrey Thomas, Lance Totten, James F. Truesdale, David Tully, Joshua Warner, Karl J. Weschta, Dean Wilson, Jim Zemansky, Carlo Basail, Randy Bobbitt, Christopher Carlson, Gary Clark, James Diggs, Daren Dochterman, Werner Hoetzinger, Alba Leone, Peter McGoran, William Scot Noonan

Sound Department

Steve Bartkowicz, Heidi Bender, Lon Bender, Tim Boggs, Weldon Brown, Claudia Carle, Matt Colleran, Tim Cooney, John DiSante, Victor Ray Ennis, Marc Fishman, Paul Flinchbaugh, Nerses Gezalyan, Hector C. Gika, Ann Hadsell, Gregory Hainer, Michael Hertlein, Jeffrey A. Humphreys, Craig Jurkiewicz, Michael Keller, Randy Kelley, David Kudell, Peter J. Lehman, Kimaree Long, James Moriana, Mark Ormandy, Willard Overstreet, Kelly Oxford, Michelle Pazer, Andy Potvin, Michael A. Reagan, Geoffrey G. Rubay, Kevin Sorensen, Wylie Stateman, Mark P. Stoeckinger, Jeffrey Wilhoit, Mark Choi, Richard Dwan Jr., Michael McNerney, Magic A. Moreno, Perry Robertson, Kevin Sorensen, Bruce Tanis

Special Effects by

Brian Pyro Adams, Stan Blackwell, Joel P. Blanchard, Thomas M. Craven, Steve Dearth, Dominik Dugandzic, Terry Erickson, John Fagan, Jeff Frink, Steve Galich, Scott Garcia, Jeremy Hays, Kelly Kerby, Randy Krohmer, Matthew Lillis, Paul J. Lombardi, Ronald W. Mathews, Scott D. Mattson, Jeff Miller, Stephen D. Moore, George Paine, David Peterson, Jeff Rand, Scott Roark, Shawn Ronzio, Parry Willard, Dick Wood, Ian Eyre, Edward Gettis, Russ Herpich, Chris Jones, G. Peter King, Daniel P. Murphy, Brendon O Dell, Jake Valdez

Visual Effects by

Paul Abatemarco, Nancy Adams, Francois Antoine, Randall Bahnsen, Lynn Basas, Nancy Bernstein, Terra Bliss, Cris Blyth, Steve Bowen, Tom Bristow, Bob Buckner, Shannan Burkley, Dick Caine, Martin Clark, Chad E. Collier, John Michael Courte, C. Marie Davis, Aaron Dorn, Jason Doss, Scott Edelstein, Christopher Edwards, Bob Eicholz, Bill Feightner, Larry Gaynor, Swen Gillberg, David Goldberg, Kacie Haggerty, Bruce Halstead, Jessica Harris, John Herndon, Christopher Holsey, Chris Howard, Joni Jacobson, Ken Jones, Nikos Kalaitzidis, Jeffrey Kalmus, Michael Kanfer, Kelly L Estrange, Sophie Leclerc, Michael F. Lehman, Dan Lemmon, Kevin Lingenfelser, Dawn Llewellyn, Chris Logan, Narbeh Mardirossian, Craig Mathieson, Joe Matza, Bekki Misiorowski, Suzanne Mitus-Uribe, Evangeline Monroy, Carl S.G. Moore, Heather J. Morrison, Robert Nederhorst, Gregory Oehler, Martin Olah, Dan Patterson, Darren Poe, Erik Pope, Kelly Port, Dante Quintana, David Robinson, David Santiago, Steve Siracusa, Ken Sjogren, Albert Soto, David Alec Stern, Kenny Sutherland, Chris Taft, Amy Tompkins, Renée Tymn, Casey Vanover, Mary E. Walter, Jessica Dara Westbrook, Bryan Whitaker, Mark Wilson, Jann Wimmer, Doug F. Wolf, Adam Young, Kit Young, Jeffrey Edward Baksinski, Timothy Michael Cairns, Tom Daws, Thomas R. Dickens, Fred Jimenez, Kama Moiha, Alex G. Ortoll, Robert Rowles, Todd Sarsfield, Aaron Singer, Orvis Slack, Tess Spaulding, Nick Swartz, Richard Wardlow, Bjorn Zipprich


Todd Bryant, Richard Bucher, Matt Byrne, Mark Chadwick, Andy Cheng, Max Daniels, Mark De Alessandro, Thomas DuPont, Kiante Elam, Kofi Elam, Michael Endoso, Jonathan Eusebio, Eddie J. Fernandez, Tom Gianelli, Lance Gilbert, Al Goto, Allan Graf, Tad Griffith, Steven Ho, Chuck Hosack, Yoshio Iizuka, Steve Martinez, Eddie Matthews, Dustin Meier, John Meier, Johnny Tri Nguyen, Hugh Aodh O Brien, Jim Palmer, Eddie Perez, Casey Pieretti, Stuart Quan, Kevin Reid, Simon Rhee, Justin Riemer, Mario Roberts, Gilbert Rosales, Spencer Sano, Lincoln Simonds, Steve Stafford, C.C. Taylor, Matthew Taylor, Pete Turner, Jon Valera, Scott Waugh, Danny Wong, Tsuyoshi Abe, Robert Alonzo, Brian Avery, Sean Bunch, Arnold Chon, Steve M. Davison, Jayson Dumenigo, Tanner Gill, Steven Ito, Hiro Koda, John Koyama, Paul Lacovara, Lin Oeding, Jon Sakata, Mike Smith, Charles A. Tam, Stan Tinay, Gary Toy, Gary J. Wayton, Alex Wen, Billy Wong

Camera and Electrical Department

Lloyd Ahern II, Mike Akins, Miles Anderson, Danny Barfield, Paul F. Barron, Micah Y. Bisagni, Kirk Bloom, Kevin Boyd, Jerry G. Callaway, Stuart Campbell, Michael Cassidy, Michael P. Catanzarite, Michael A. Chavez, Charles S. Colegrove, Mark Connelly, Ron Cooney, Steven Cueva, Mike Culp, Thomas A. Curran, Shawn Duchscherer, Doug Ednie, Eddie Evans, Michael Fedack, Danny Fowler, Chris Garcia, Jason Gary, Todd M. Gavin, Michael Gershman, James J. Gilson, Kirk Greenberg, Jeff Hale, Paul Hamacher, Dennis Hammermeister, Kim Heath, Michael Herron, Jeff Moose Howery, Matt Jackson, Casey Jones, Perry Karidis, David Katz, Mark La Bonge, Brian Marincic, Joe Martens, John Martens, Fred L. McLane, Richard Merryman, Bill Morris, John Murphy, Reggie Newkirk, Kevin Nieliwocki, David B. Nowell, John O Connor, Mark O Kane, Sean J. O Shea, Frank Parrish, William Bear Paul, William Eddie Paul, Beau Damon Richards, Craig Steven Riley, Tony Rivetti, Ingrid Semler, Rick Senteno, Scott Smith, Clifford Speary, Tim Spicka, John E. Stephens, Kevin Stewart, John Stradling, Steve Sudge, Paul Theriault, Neil Toussaint, Stephen Vaughan, Kelly Way, Scott Whitbread, Steve Zigler, Tom Bradley, Tony Bryan, Richard Brooks Burton, Glenn Cannon, Jason Dannenberg, Ron Goodman, Michael Guthrie, Darren Langer, Jonathan Lanius, Eric Leftridge, Peter McAdams, Greg Morse, Andrew Osborne, Kelly Price, Mike Simko, Randy Tharpe, Mark Walpole

Casting Department

Sig De Miguel, Denice Kumagai, Elizabeth Lang, Danny Le Boyer, Caitlin McKenna, Wendy Weidman, Anthony Gilbert, Christopher Gray, Kim McCray, Kim Petrosky, Rebecca Quick

Costume and Wardrobe Department

Anthony Almaraz, Javier Arrieta, Frank Avanzo, Myron Baker, James Mike Balker, Elizabeth Clark, Carmen Cuebello, Mike Evans, Kirstin Gallo, Debbie Holbrook, Joe McCloskey, Stanley Moore, Suzy Perry, Gerardo Rosette, Barnaby Smith, Larry Velasco, Conan Castro Jr., Will James Moore, Critter Pierce, Linda N. Robinson, Kate Sawyer, Mark Walcott

Editorial Department

Steve Bowen, Adam M. Duthie, Michael Healey, Danny Rafic, Mike Stanwick, Craig Wood, Kristopher Kasper, Craig Tanner

Location Management

Steve Dirkes, Tyler Elliott, Carol Flaisher, David Israel, Phill Kane, Maida N. Morgan, David Berthiaume, Stephen Dirkes, Steve Dirkes, Katherine Dorrer

Music Department

Catherine Bott, Nick Glennie-Smith, Ashley Irwin, Malcolm Luker, Maurice Murphy, Laura Perlman, Jamie Talbot, Lawrence Wallington, Gavyn Wright, Warren Zielinski, John Beal, Mark Berrow, Rachel Bolt, Karen Han, Bart Hendrickson, Michael Lustig, Everton Nelson, Lee Scott, Bruce White

Script and Continuity Department

Sherry Gallarneau, Cate Hardman

Transportation Department

Charley Bob Burnham, Edward O Neal, Teddy J. Ritchie, Thomas P. Siemen, Lee Stepp, Morris Aroesti, Lance Cherniet, Michael Coady, Edward Cook, Tina Peterson, Yvette Peterson, Windi Robinson, Christina Rollo, Patricia Sammons, Hank Van Apeldoorn

Additional Crew

Emily Aaronson, Rachel Aberly, Coleen Aiello, Brian L. Aultman, Bruce Benson, Matthew Bernsen, Tucker Bowen, Kaelee Brown, Jamie Carmichael, Cory Cate, Erin Colbert, Bruce P. Crandall, Robert Dawson, Matt DiFranco, Benjamin Epps, Josh Ernstrom, Gary Ferrel, Nicholas Fitzgerald, Vincent Joseph Flaherty, Cliff Fleming, Cory Fleming, Kathy Leigh Fleming, Tim Fleming, Seth Fortin, Joseph Lee Galloway, James W. Gavin, James Gerlach, Al Guthery, Jalyn Henton, Robert Hepburn, Pamela Hilse, Steve Hinton, Ethan Jensen, Keii Johnston, Paul Kane, Steve Karnes, Dea Valentin Kristensen, Shauna L. Kroen, Paul Lowe, Jill Rytie Lutz, Loren MacDonald, Ruth Maehara, Christos Michaels, Joan Johnson Miller, Harold G. Moore, Kara Nelson, Rick Ojeda, Michael Papac, Jason Powell, John Radcliff, Chad Rivetti, Dan Rudert, Joe Rystrom, Janell M. Sammelman, Chris Saunders, John T. Scanlon, Kristine Schroeder, Myke Schwartz, Gary Sewell, Rick Shuster, Robert Sica, Morgan Smith, Steve Stafford, Amy Lowe Starbin, Haley Sweet, Stan Swofford, Keni Thomas, Dan Tipton, Roland Tomforde, Tara Tovarek, Jason Tracey, Marc Turchin, Dana Kristen Vahle, Bonnie F. Watkins, Michele Wolkoff, Michele Wright, Heather Wusterbarth, Sandra L. Yeary, Kristina Abbott, Julie Adams, Justin Blampied, Vanna Bonta, Josef Brandmaier, RJ Casey, Paul Davison, James D. Dever, Cliff Fleming, Anthony Gilbert, Kevin Gugle, Michael J. Harker, Vien Hong, Ehren Koepf, Katie McCaffrey, Stephen McCurry, Cathy Schweickhardt, Thomas Shull, Susan Van Apeldoorn


Chip Colbert, William F. Homann, John LeMoyne, Philip M. Strub


Action, Drama, History


Icon Entertainment International, Motion Picture Production GmbH & Co. Erste KG, StudioCanal


France, Germany, USA


English, Vietnamese, French





ImDb Rating Votes


Metacritic Rating


Short Description

We Were Soldiers is a 2002 war film written and directed by Randall Wallace and starring Mel Gibson. Based on the book We Were Soldiers Once… and Young (1992) by Lieutenant General (Ret.) Hal Moore and reporter Joseph L. Galloway, it dramatizes the Battle of Ia Drang on November 14, 1965.

Box Office Budget

$75,000,000 (estimated)

Box Office Opening Weekend USA


Box Office Gross USA


Box Office Cumulative Worldwide Gross



Battle,soldier,vietnam war,helicopter,reporter