1980s Uncommon Valor (1983)

Published on August 15th, 2007 | by Chris


Uncommon Valor (1983)

Reviewed by:
On August 15, 2007
Last modified:October 8, 2012


Uncommon Valor is an uncommon film, I highly suggest picking this one up, just to put yourself back in the eighties and remember.

Uncommon Valor (1983)Sometime in the 1980's, and I can't remember what brought it on, there was an onslaught of Vietnam MIA movies.  You had Chuck Norris in the aptly named "Mission in Action" series, and how could you forget Rambo: First Blood Part II (no matter how hard you try!)...

...and then there was 1983's Uncommon Valor.  Quite frankly this is the movie that "Rambo" should have been.  It'd been a long time since I'd seen Uncommon Valor, and for some reason I remember it being a worse picture.  Maybe age and experience has changed my perspective, I really don't know.  But this is really not a bad movie.  I won't go as far to say it's great... but its really quite good.

Col. Cal Rhodes' (Gene Hackman) son went missing somewhere in Vietnam in '72.  Since that time he's made it his mission to find him.  Eventually he thinks he's located the camp in Laos where Frank may be held.  With this knowledge, and with no support from any official channels, he decides to take matters into his own hands, and secures financing for a rescue mission.

To do this, he enlists a bunch of guys from Frank's old unit, Wilkes (Fred Ward), Blaster (Reb Brown), Sailor (Randall Cobb), a couple of helicopter pilots, Johnson (Harold Sylvester) and Charts (Tim Thomerson), and the son of an MIA, Kevin Scott (Patrick Swayze).  He has to convince most of them to come along, which really brings up a lot of contemporary attitudes and feelings about Vietnam.

Then comes the training.  He ships them all off to someplace in Texas (and just for those who don't know, the only thing north of Galveston is Houston!...) for a crash course in prison camp raiding.  In this "act 2" we see these guys deal with some of their demons, and finally come around to Scott's presence.

Then in "act 3" they head off to Bangkok to start their mission.  Unfortunately they're waylaid by the CIA (who else!) and have to improvise their way into some new weapons.  They split off into their respective teams and (yes I'll spoil this one) get the job done, bringing home four American MIA's in the process.  One of which was the soldier Frank saved, which caused him to be left behind.  Unfortunately, Frank isn't one of them (yes I'll spoil that, too.)  And (OK, I'll spoil this for you, hey why stop now!) they lose two of their own in the raid.

Action-wise, I'd say this falls somewhere to the "better" side of other 80's flicks like Rambo, in that things are only slightly less ridiculous, but still maintaining a decent sense of believability.

Really what makes this movie better than your average 80's MIA movie is the approach to the entire subject of the POW-MIA in Vietnam.  If you've ever wondered what the fuss was about, just watch this, and maybe gain a little insight into why we all felt that way.  The treatment of your average Southeast-Asian isn't nearly as brain dead in this film as in others, either.

Hackman is of course spectacular, and really the rest of the cast ain't half bad, either.  Really the only gripe I have in that respect is Swayze and Cobb.  Two characters that just come across as, well, somewhat phony.

Uncommon Valor is an uncommon film, I highly suggest picking this one up, just to put yourself back in the eighties and remember.

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Ted Kotcheff continues his First Blood fervor with Uncommon Valor. Gene Hackman stars as Cal Rhodes, a former Marine Colonel who has been getting the run-around for ten years from the government concerning the disappearance of his son and his buddies - all Marines who enlisted years prior and served in Vietnam...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio:
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Manufacturer: Paramount
Original Release Date:
  • Gene Hackman
  • Robert Stack
  • Fred Ward
  • Reb Brown
  • Randall 'Tex' Cobb


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Uncommon Valor (1983) Chris

Summary: Uncommon Valor is an uncommon film, I highly suggest picking this one up, just to put yourself back in the eighties and remember.


User Rating: 4.4 (1 votes)

About the Author

I’ve been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I’ve been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.

3 Responses to Uncommon Valor (1983)

  1. The Dirty Dozen: The Deadly Mission, was a 1987 made-for-TV sequel to the original Dirty Dozen, and actually somewhat lives up to its predecessor’s legacy.  Somewhat.  Well, a whole lot better than the later “Fatal Mission” which was, well, just

  2. Pingback: Missing In Action (1984) Review | War Movies

  3. Scott says:

    This is one of the stupidest unrealistic macho 80’s films. It looks and smells like a made for TV movie. Wholly unwatchable.

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