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Australia 1979
Directed by
Tom Jeffrey
92 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Mike Esler
2.5 stars

The Odd Angry Shot

This predominantly unfunny, black comedy about a group of Australian soldiers during the Vietnam war is true to its subject matter although this also dates it. Despite the score occasionally smacking of incidental music from a TV serial, it looks good, with much of the acting reflecting the daring and sense of self-worth that permeated the Australian film industry at the time.

The SAS unit led by Corporal Harry, a rheumy-eyed Graham Kennedy, is a parade of familiar Aussie talent of the time including Graeme Blundell, Bryan Brown, John Jarratt and John Hargreaves. Kennedy is a natural and although he featured in a half dozen films, the fact that he didn’t go on to big screen stardom probably says more about his much publicized contrariness and a lack of appropriate projects than anything else.

Largely episodic, alternating between the boredom of camp life and occasional skirmishes with Charlie (the V.C.)  the film mines classic, if hackneyed, conventions of Aussie mate-ship - drinking, brawling and wisecracking about each other''s manliness (or lack of it) - delivered by laconic, anti-authoritarian latter day Chips Rafferty types in what is a kind of Antipodean M.A.S.H. (1970).  As such it offers more interesting insights into Australian cultural history than the country’s problematical "All the way with LBJ" military foray into South East Asia, something for which the film was criticized for at the time.




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