Drama, War

The Odd Angry Shot (1979)

Comments Off on The Odd Angry Shot (1979) 19 August 2013

OAS

Studio:  Synapse Films / Samson Productions

Theatrical Release: March 1, 1979

Blu Ray Release: August 13, 2013

Director:  Tom Jeffrey

Rating:  Not Rated

Reviewed By James M. Dubs

 

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I have memories of watching war movies on HBO with my father.  I remember seeing Oliver Stone’s Platoon and Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket for the first time on the popular cable network.  I would sit almost directly across from the television on the family couch.  My father, very stereotypically, reclined in his worn, brown reclining chair, to my right.

My father is a Vietnam veteran and has never mentioned his experiences or opinions on the conflict, and out of respect, I have never asked.  What he experienced and encountered is a complete mystery to me and will most likely follow him to the grave.  Through the years though he has, perhaps accidentally, had moments where the curtain parted and I caught a very small glimpse of his perspective.

After my father and I finished our first viewing of Platoon, my father quietly stood up, headed toward the kitchen, and offered a two word review of the feature, “Complete bullshit!”  Similarly, during Full Metal Jacket, I recall my father grumbling quiet comments like “That’s not how it happened,” or “It wasn’t like that,” under his breath.

Many have heralded Platoon and Full Metal Jacket as two of the most realistic and accurate portrayals of the Vietnam War, but when my own father finds fault in the depiction of events, it becomes incredibly difficult for me to objectively watch and review any Vietnam War movie.  I have a learned bias and general opinion that no film can ever depict the conflict accurately.  So it is with this general bias that I began screening Tom Jeffrey’s The Odd Angry Shot.

Film Rating: ★★★½☆

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Adapted from William Nagle’s novel by the same name, and adapted for the screen by director Tom Jeffrey, The Odd Angry Shot holds the distinction of being a Vietnam War film told from the perspective of men serving in Australia’s Special Air Service Regiment.  The “SASR” were and still are considered the forefront of Australia’s defense and are amongst Australia’s elite military teams.  In Vietnam they were used to great success in reconnaissance patrol teams consisting of 5-6 men.  Ultimately, none of this really matters as The Odd Angry Shot is not really about the Australians, politics, any specific battle, or even the conflict at large.  At its core it’s about the men who served and what they endure together to survive.

“Everyone’s got to be somewhere, and you’re here, so you better get used to it.”  says Harry (Graham Kennedy), Special Air Service Corporal, to his team of soldiers. It’s a fitting quote as the film has no discernible plot.  There is no epic climax, or some great opposition to overcome.  The men, which consist of Bill (John Jarratt), Bung (John Hargreaves), Rogers (Bryan Brown), Dawson (Graeme Blundell), and Scott (Ian Glimour), are portrayed as your everyday, simple men with no hidden agendas or political motivations other than to do their jobs and survive their tour of duty.  These men are not looking to make a difference or change the course of the war.  All of them simply want to get the job done and go home.

Although I wouldn’t describe the film as “uplifting” or “fun” it certainly has a more positive tone considering the backdrop.  In some ways, the film is more akin to Robert Altman’s M.A.S.H. as most of the scenes involve the camaraderie among men, finding an outlet for their situation through practical jokes, card games, parties, humor, the occasional fist fight, and plenty of beer.  When all is said and done, most of the violence and conflict of the war remains off-screen leaving more time for the men to “hang-out” on base, swap stories, and offer opinions on the war in general.  The film never makes secret of its anti-war agenda, but it never feels force fed or preachy as the film moves along.

The film doesn’t try to re-enact the horrors of war, or slam any political party.  It does, however, leave you with a sense that the men involved will be forever changed.  The film is not without its tragedies and by the end when one of the men is asked, “Just retuning from Vietnam?” The soldier’s reply is simply, “No.” Whether this is simply a statement of denial to avoid conversation, or involves a deeper context to express that the experience will never leave him is never made clear.  Regardless of the survivor’s intent, I believe The Odd Angry Shot may speak some truth about the men, their struggles, and their brotherhood through the conflict.  And I think, just maybe, my father might actually enjoy this one, as I very much did.

Video Rating: ★★★★☆

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Synapse Films has a reputation of releasing exceptional Blu-rays and The Odd Angry Shot proves to be no exception.  Colors are vibrant, flesh tones natural, and there are only a handful of film imperfections that pass by in the blink of an eye.  Since this is the first time I’ve ever seen The Odd Angry Shot I cannot compare it to previous home video versions.  However, I can only assume that this is the best this film has ever looked at home.  The Odd Angry Shot is featured in its intended aspect ratio of 1.78:1.

Audio Rating: ★★★½☆

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Warning!  Performers speak with an Australian accent.  As stupid as that sounds, I once had an Australian boss and I can’t count the times someone said, “I can’t understand what he’s saying.” Unfortunately, for you lot that can’t decipher Aussie, this Blu-ray is not equipped with sub-titles.  For those of you that have mastered this dialect, the soundtrack has been mastered in a beautiful DTS-HD English 2.0 Mono.

Extras Rating: ★★½☆☆

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The supplemental materials are few but there are a couple of items to highlight.  To start there is the original theatrical trailer.  I’m of the opinion that trailers should be standard for all DVD/Blu-ray releases.  It’s a small bonus, but one that I always appreciate.

Also included is a take-it-or-leave-it featurette titled Stunts Down Under with Buddy Joe Hooker.  It runs just shy of 7 minutes, includes a few interesting tidbits about Buddy Joe’s experience and involvement, but ultimately left me shrugging my shoulders.

The real treat is the audio commentary featuring Producer/Director Tom Jeffrey, Producer Sue Milliken, and Actor Graeme Blundell, who played Dawson.  Surprisingly, the three bring very different qualities to the commentary, helping to round it out and offering everything from technical details, funny anecdotes, and even minor factual errors, like “Corporal Harry” should have been “Sergeant Harry.”

Oh, and the cover art is reversible.  I don’t know why, but I get a kick out of little details like this…

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

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The Odd Angry Shot hasn’t cured me of my bias towards the war genre and I still believe that no film could ever truly depict the horrors of Vietnam.  If one ever could, I don’t think anyone would ever want to watch it.  However, The Odd Angry Shot doesn’t dwell in the darkness of the conflict.  Instead it reminds me that even in our darkest moments, regardless of what others in the world try to plot and plan for us, brother’s/comrades/friends/fathers move forward for each other and take care of their own.  I may never know my father’s Vietnam, but like some of the characters of The Odd Angry Shot, he endured and he helped mold me into the man I am today.

This little known film is worth discovering on another impressive Blu-ray release by Synapse Films.  Fans of the war genre would do well to add this to their collection.

Author

- who has written 67 posts on UnRated Film Review Magazine | Movie Reviews, Interviews.

James Dubs is a father and husband who loves his family first and movies a close second. He believes every movie is worth watching once and, as a film fan and critic, believes that even the worst movies offer something in return. His mission is to watch anything and report without pretension. Follow James Dubs on Twitter and send him suggestions on movies you would like reviewed - popular, obscure, independent, etc. He'll watch anything for you.

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