New on Blu-ray: Platoon

By Robert B. Desalvo

The 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray of Oliver Stone's award-winning film is packed with extras like deleted scenes, documentaries and behind-the-scenes vignettes.

Director: Oliver Stone

MPAA Rating: R

Studio: MGM/20th Century Fox

The 25th Anniversary DVD/Blu-ray combo of Oliver Stone’s award-winning film is packed with extras like deleted scenes, documentaries and behind-the-scenes vignettes. Long before the Two and a Half Men fallout, the hookers, the partying, the goddesses and the reactionary touring carnival, Charlie Sheen was already “winning” as Chris Taylor—a young American who dropped out of college for combat duty in Vietnam—in Oliver Stone’s acclaimed Platoon. The movie won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and is disturbingly realistic because it is based on Stone’s real-life experiences during the Vietnam War.

Chris thought it was unfair that only the poor and uneducated were fighting in Vietnam and decides to enlist, but his fellow soldiers think he is crazy. Chris soon thinks they are right as the bodies begin to pile up and his group endures ambush after ambush by the Viet Cong near the border of Cambodia in 1967. He bonds with the pot-smoking “Heads"—especially veteran King (Keith David)—and is caught in the crossfire between the more compassionate Sergeant Elias (Willem Dafoe) and the unhinged Staff Sergeant Barnes (Tom Berenger).

Elias and Barnes come to blows after the platoon raids a village where a food and weapons cache is stumbled upon. Barnes kills a protesting female villager after Bunny (Kevin Dillon) had bludgeoned her son to death with his rifle, and Elias reports the incident to his superiors. Later—in one of the most intense scenes in any war film—Barnes sees Elias approaching in the woods and shoots him. Barnes tells Chris that Elias is dead, but when the platoon escapes in a helicopter, Chris sees Elias stumbling away from the attacking Viet Cong with arms raised up to heaven.

The final massacre between the Viet Cong and the American soldiers is based on an actual attack that Stone survived while serving. Chris barely survives, avenges Elias’s death, and returns home with the belief that the only war all of them were really fighting was the one inside themselves.

Platoon has never sounded or looked better than it does here on Blu-ray, but that doesn’t mean the 1986 film has been cleaned up excessively. There is some natural film grain that is supposed to be there, but the bright greens of the tropical plants still pop and the details are sharp even in the inky-black jungle scenes.

Every single member of the ensemble cast—especially Dafoe—gives his all to Stone, including familiar faces in smaller roles such as Johnny Depp as the Vietnamese translator and Tony "Candyman” Todd as Warren. Sheen has gone on to crazier roles—most of them now off-screen—but “Platoon” remains his most winning moment.

Best extras: This Blu-ray debut has two feature commentaries by Stone and Military Advisor Dale Dye, deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary by Stone, two documentaries, three vignettes and three “Flashback to ‘Platoon’” behind-the-scenes featurettes: “Snapshot in Time: 1967-1968,” “Creating the 'Nam” and “Raw Wounds: The Legacy of Platoon.”


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