When one thinks of the Vietnam War, Australia generally isn’t one of the first things that comes to ones mind. The Odd Angry Shot (1979) will change that. Based on a novella of the same name by William Nagle, the film follows a group of Australian soldiers as they survive their time in Vietnam.
Adapted to the screen and directed by Tom Jeffrey, Angry Shot very much feels like the Australian version of M*A*S*H spending more time in the camp with guys goofing around then actually out in the jungle fighting. Which is not to say this film doesn’t have its war scenes. There is a fair amount of gunplay going on here, it just isn’t the focus. The focus is these characters and how the deal with and attempt to survive this horrible situation they’ve been put in.
The film opens with a birthday/going away party for Bill (John Jarratt) which, while much shorter, seems a little reminiscent of The Deer Hunter. Soon we are introduced to the rest of his section including Corporal Harry (Graham Kennedy), Rogers (Bryan Brown) and the others. While the film opens with Bill he isn’t really the star. In fact, there really isn’t a star to this film. However Harry becomes a very strong, stand out character that draws the most of your attention.
Most of their time is spent goofing off in camp, either playing cards, betting on a fight between a spider and a scorpion, going into town to find prostitutes or playing pranks on one another, all while drink lots and lots of Fosters. However, this is war, and even these seemingly safe activities are subject to interruption by mortar attacks such as we learn early on.
The Australian accents in this film are very heavy and at times a little hard to understand, but it doesn’t distract from the over all entertaining value. Graham Kennedy is definitely the strongest actor here and Harry quickly becomes the most interesting character and the one you will most likely care about most.
Angry Shot doesn’t have much a plot. It just follows this small group of soldiers as they live from one moment to the next, which I kind of liked. I didn’t feel like the lack of a cohesive plot hurt the film. However, for those who have seen all the classic Vietnam War films, many scenes in here will feel familiar. When the men are slowly crawling through the all too quiet jungle, you will be on the edge of your seat knowing that a gunfight will begin any second.
The Odd Angry Shot doesn’t hold any surprises and it doesn’t offer anything new that hasn’t been covered in many other Vietnam War films that are mostly better films. However, this is the only Vietnam War film that I’ve seen that tells the story of the Australian soldiers and it is very fascinating to see that angle.
If you’re a fan of war films then The Odd Angry Shot should be on your must see list. It’s not the best war film you’ll ever see, but it’s a good one and it’s interesting to see a war we’ve seen many times before from somebody else’s point of view.
The film is presented in 1.378:1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono. For a low budget Australian film from the late ’70s this is a great looking and sounding film; the new High Definition transfer really pops off the screen while maintaining the gritty 70’s feel that needs.
Stunts Down Under with Buddy Joe Hooker : (6 min.) A short interview with the stunt choreographer of the film. Trailer. Commentary with Producer/Director Tom Jeffrey, Producer Sue Milliken and actor Graeme Blundell: This is one of the more interesting commentaries that I’ve listened to in a while. It is definitely worth your time.
Before you sit down to watch this film, run to the store and grab yourself a six-pack or two of Fosters. Believe me, you’re going to want one before the film is over. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I sat down to watch this, but a genuinely enjoyed it. It’s not the best war film ever, but it’s a different look at what happened there and as the first Vietnam War film produced in Australia it has some historical significance in the annals of film as well.
Synapse Films presents The Odd Angry Shot. Written and Directed by: Tom Jeffrey. Based on the novel by William Nagle. Starring: Graham Kennedy, Bryan Brown and John Jarratt. Running time: 92 minutes. Rating: Not Rated, but contains war violence, vulgar language and nudity. Released: August 13, 2013.