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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > War > Vietnam > The Veteran (2006/Anchor Bay)

The Veteran (2006/Anchor Bay)

 

Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C-     Film: C

 

 

Sidney J. Furie's The Veteran is a respectable straight-to-DVD movie that was headed for the "pleasant surprise" category before self-destructing with a terrible, out-of-the-blue ending.

 

Furie was once a Hollywood director who made a mixed bag of major films from the 1960s through the 1980s.  But for the last 15 years or so, he's retreated back to his native Canada where he's continued to work steadily on mostly Canadian-financed direct-to-DVD B movies.

 

During Furie's three decades as a Hollywood journeyman, two of his most underrated efforts were set during the Vietnam War.  First came The Boys in Company C (1978), one of the earliest films about Vietnam that was quickly forgotten amongst the bigger, more-publicized Vietnam dramas of the late '70s (The Deer Hunter, Coming Home and Apocalypse Now).  Then came Furie's Purple Hearts (1984), a love story set against the backdrop of the war that didn't get the distribution it deserved.

 

Furie returns to the subject of Vietnam on a smaller scale with The Veteran.  In Furie's latest, Bobby Hosea stars as Ray Watson, an African-American Vietnam vet turned preacher and politician who is forced to return to Vietnam for the first time in 30 years when he receives an anonymous letter that could jeopardize his ambitious political future.

 

Back in present day 'Nam he's held hostage by a former member of his squad named Doc (Michael Ironside), who holds him at gunpoint in a hotel room, forcing him to reminisce about their combat experiences.  Turns out Ironside's character never left Vietnam, deciding to remain in the county after spending several years as a prisoner of war.  He has obvious psychological scars.

 

Across the street, listening to their every word on a surveillance mission is Ally Sheedy, who supposedly works for the U.S. government trying to track down MIA's like Doc.

 

As Ray and Doc recall old incidents and Army buddies, the film flashes back to Vietnam during the height of the war and introduces us to young versions of Ray and Doc and other members of their unit like an officer (Casper Van Dien) in charge of writing letters home to the families of the dead and a gutsy Catholic priest (Martin Kove).

 

The flashbacks to wartime and the scenes of the tense present-day reunion between Ray and Doc hold our interest, but Sheedy's subplot keeps interrupting like it belongs in a totally different movie.  The script only justifies her presence at the very end with a cheap plot twist that exists merely to surprise viewers, and doesn't seem authentic to anything that has come before it.  The ending left me feeling cheated, happening so abruptly that it suggests the production money was running out so somebody said, "Let's hurry up and end this thing."

 

That's a shame because The Veteran offers good performances by Hosea and especially the under-used Ironside, who's always fun to watch, even in bad movies.  The same, however, can't be said of Sheedy, who's unconvincing and still has that annoying "valley girl" voice from her Brat Pack days.

 

The Veteran was picked up for DVD release by Anchor Bay Entertainment.  It's presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.  The only extras are a theatrical trailer for this film and a few others being distributed by Anchor Bay.

 

 

-   Chuck O'Leary


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