Rating: LOTS OF PEOPLE ARE DEAD (AND THE BLACK GUY DIES FIRST)!
The world has been overrun with the living dead. Cities are destroyed. Homes ravished. Families torn apart. Survivors huddle in fear, afraid of not only what creatures might take them when their backs are turned, but also at the prospect that the meager scraps of food and few drops of water they scavenged might be their last. It's at this time they might want to be distracted by some form of entertainment. Say, a 1995 Vietnam movie about a group of black soldiers on a suicide mission?
Annnnnd, everyone stops reading.
I remembered The Walking Dead for a long time. Something always drew me towards it, even though I'd already seen so many more superior films about the Vietnam war. When you're a kid, certain previews, or posters, hold a certain sway over you. They intrigue you, even if everyone else says the movie is a piece of shit. And everyone did say that movie was a piece of shit. There was something about that phrase though, The Walking Dead, that always made me wonder what happened to these characters that was so terrible according to Vietnam standards.
Eventually, I gave enough of a shit to actually see it. Sure, I thought about renting it a few times, but there was always something I wanted to see more. Even when it popped up on Netflix instant, I still held off for a couple of months. One day, I saw that it was about to be pulled, and I felt it was time to finally see it. Actually, that's a lie. I thought it was the TV show, and I didn't finish Season 2. When I clicked play, I was first surprised, then a little betrayed, then accepting (but only after I checked the run time to make sure I wasn't ruining a good chunk of my day).
Then, I basically watched this for an hour and a half...
What's interesting about this movie isn't it's take on Vietnam (it's about as realistic as John Waters's advances towards women), it's how it encompassed all the things that made films of the 90s what they were. When Chinese action films started heading west, most notably John Woo films, Hollywood reacted in a very, well, Hollywood way. They took the 'cool' ideas and used them over and over again until we were sick of them. That's why desaturated colors and shaky cam took off after Saving Private Ryan. It's easier to use others' stylistic choices, rather than make some yourself.
Gunfights were more about style and The Walking Dead made sure to turn Vietnam into a John Woo paradise (ironically this was before John Woo turned World War II into a John Woo paradise). Tactics, cover and flanking took a back seat to diving and rolling while shooting an unbelievable amount of bullets. I think they reloaded maybe three times in the entire movie. When the movie segued into the life of the one of the people who enlisted, it included a gunfight that included a pistol in each hand and a backward dive through a window while shooting.
Vietnam has never been more realistic.
"Remember that time when-" "No."
Final Thoughts: This movie was pretty dumb. It failed at pretty much everything it was trying to do. Black men had it especially hard in Vietnam, but making a shitty action movie where everyone, rich or poor, has a suit and every white guy goes out of his way to be an asshole is not the best way to represent it. I couldn't get invested. Cliche characters go cliche things, are shot, then are promptly forgotten or ignored. The subject matter deserves better. Or zombies.