“Because I am hard, you will not like me.”
Perfectionist filmmaker waited for others to make their statements on Vietnam before making his. The results are both chilling and masterful filmmaking. R. Lee Ermey takes his years of military experience and molds it into a drill sergeant it is not easy to forget and the same can be said for the young cast.Parris Island, during the Vietnam War: There is a monster on the island, although it is not a mystical beast. It is Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) who is tasked with training a group of new recruits to be Marines in his beloved corps. They have names but Hartman quickly strips them of those to bestow nicknames.
We have writer Pvt. Joker (Matthew Modine), Texan Pvt. Cowboy (Arliss Howard), and the fat body Pvt. Gomer Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio). Pyle is a bumbling man child and immediately earns the wrath of Hartman who drives Pyle to his limits. After the events of Parris Island, Joker finds himself in the press corps with Pvt. Rafterman (Kevyn Major Howard), his photographer who is aching for combat.
The Tet Offensive pushes both out into the jungle where they meetup with Cowboy, Animal Mother (Adam Baldwin), Eightball (Dorian Harewood), and battled hardened boys becoming men all too familiar with the horrors of war.
R. Lee Ermey is a clever and sneaky bastard. I’m glad he’s on our side. It may come as a surprise that he wasn’t originally cast for the role of Hartman… but he wanted to be. He was only a technical advisor on the film, but made sure that he ran lines with the young actors on tapes that Kubrick would see. So the job ended up being his and one can’t imagine anyone else filling the role. It also didn’t hurt that one time on set Ermey yelled at Kubrick to stand up and he reflexively obeyed. It’s a performance for the ages, although not too far off from Ermey’s real demeanor.
Stanley Kubrick is a legendary filmmaker and even though others had made films about the Vietnam War you can’t help but be drawn in when a director of his caliber decides to portray it. He put his young cast, many being their first film, though real boot camps with the unbending Ermey putting through their paces as well as the perfectionist Kubrick demanding take after take. The results are astonishing, haunting, and bring out the duality of man.
Kubrick may have been a tad reclusive, but he is a master of his craft. The main addition, as Full Metal Jacket has been on Blu-ray before, is a documentary about showing Kubrick’s obsessive collecting and research and the boxes that house them. For fans of Kubrick, it reveals much about the man that embodied the legend.
Full Metal Jacket is presented in a 1080p transfer (1.85:1). Special features include a commentary by Baldwin, D’Onofrio, Ermey, and screenwriter Jay Cocks, the 30 minute “Between Good and Evil” making of, and the 2 minute theatrical trailer.
Disc two is a DVD with the 60 minute documentary “Boxes” about the filmmaker going through the collected boxes of research, correspondence, and paperwork of the late Kubrick. It’s all housed in a digibook case with pages of pictures, text, and a flyer about downloading an app that lets you see Modine’s photos from the set.
Full Metal Jacket may not be the only Vietnam War film out there, but it is the only one with Kubrick attached to it. However, it speaks to all wars not just the one that forms the plot. This new edition features a look inside the well-organized mind that came up with this stirring film. Me watch it long time.
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