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Hardcore Combat Movies - A Review by Former 82nd Airborne Paratrooper

Updated on September 25, 2016

Military History Introduction

I come from a long line of military men. My genealogy was traced back to before the founding of the United States. The part that is amazing to me, and that I am proud to be a part of is the fact that each man in my paternal lineage served the United States in war and/or peace. My ancestors served under the great Generals of America. I grew up with the fact that it seemed to be in our blood to serve.


I decided to join the military when I was around fourteen years old. I used to hang out with veterans when I could, and I would also hang out with the recruiters. I did not mind which branch because to me they were all good. However, I had a special desire to join the Navy. When I was 17 my parents signed for me to go into the military but to their surprise it was not with the Navy but with the Army and a path to become an Airborne Ranger.


I served as an Airborne Infantry Team Leader, and all the other positions that are in the light Infantry. I eventually decided to become a linguist and after 4 ½ years of being hardcore airborne infantry where I was stationed one year close to the demilitarized zone in the Republic of Korea and a deployment to the streets of Haiti locked and ready to rock with the 82nd, I finally found my way to the Defense Language Institute of Monterey where I learned the Arabic language. Then I was back with a Cavalry unit during my last year with the military giving me close to eight years of service.

Why am I telling you this history, so you would know that I speak with knowledge when I talk about these movies that are realistic and hardcore! I will list only five movies here because I do not want to overburden the article, and I am attaching where I can a tube link to watch a preview.

Black Hawk Down

Never leave a fallen comrade behind

Black Hawk Down is probably the most personal of all combat movies for me. I was training the summer before to become an Airborne Ranger. It is a piece of Divine Intervention or what others would call fate that I was not a part of the group of Rangers in Somalia. There are only three places where Rangers are permanently stationed which are two in Georgia and one in Washington. Only a serious of three things that were out of my hand could of landed me in Somalia during the deployment of the Rangers and Delta to Somalia. I wish I could have gone, and at the same time I praise the Almighty that I did not, and therefore the Black Hawk story will always be a mixed bag of emotions for me.

This hard core combat movie takes place after Washington DC (President Clinton) demands responses so that he could put an end to the missions in Somalia. The General on the ground does not do everything the right way because he is worried about the results and what Washington is demanding from them. A mission is set up to go into Mogadishu and capture a terrorist war lord, but the plan was not well formed by the General and it lead to one misfortune after another until the initiative was lost by not only one Black Hawk crashing but the crashing of two Black Hawks. This is the story of soldiers that do not give up on each other. The creed of the Ranger rings in this movie. “I will never leave a fallen comrade behind”. The honor of this men where impeccable, and the leaders on the ground were exceptional to get their men home.

This movie takes place in the October of 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia, and most people would have no clue that it even happened if it was not for this movie. I remember reading about in when I walked out of the chow hall in a newspaper, at that time I was stationed in South Korea.

The combat scenes are intense and each actor had to go through a grueling training by the Rangers or by Delta so that they could play the roles realistically. Edmund Burke said “The only thing for Evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”, I have always expanded this statement. If a good man does nothing then he is evil. These men stand the guard and stand the watch. No matter what politicians or the President does these men do what is right. Rangers and Delta they are hardcore and this is their story and they do not have remorse for doing the right thing, the politicians deserve the remorse. However these soldiers and their families they have the nightmares.

It is important for us as a society to remember or soldiers and the price they pay, and all the good that they accomplish regardless of politics and baised media.

Black Hawk Down

The Hurt Locker

It is Tense in the Suit

The Hurt Locker is a hardcore combat movie, however not in the usual sense. There are not a lot of battle scenes like in Black Hawk down. A question might be, then how is it hardcore? The answer is that it is hardcore because of tense situations that the characters deal with. This movie centers around a small team of EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) Team and their rotation Iraq. The movie starts as the team leader dies in an explosion and his replacement comes in to take over the position with only a couple months left in theater.

This movie is great because it addresses one of the major concerns of modern warfare which is different from previous combat theaters. The Global War on Terrorism, which still continues regardless of the lack of recognition from the current administration in Washington and their lapdog media, is different because of the use of IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices) by the enemy. The enemy is not funded like enemies in previous wars and so the combatants have to be cleverer. The enemy blends with the populace and there are not direct uniforms to identify them. The enemy uses more insurgents. The enemy uses religion to drive their missions. It is difficult to know who the enemy is, or their capabilities.  They improvise with weapons and improvising with explosive devices is extremely dangerous.

This movie has more of a realistic cinematography which makes the viewer feel as if they are actually a part of the EOD team on site in Iraq. Excellent movie and as many such excellent war movies it does not have a Hollywood feel, as it is made by more independent film makers.

The Hurt Locker

The Great Raid

The Camp on the Island

I grew up on stories of the Military. I probably would have hear more but one of my Grandfathers that saw action during World War II as a front line medic in the pacific islands fighting against the imperial Japanese died when I was only five so I was unable to kneel at his feet and listen to his war stories but some of them passed down to me from my father. My other grandfather was a paratrooper in the Korean War who had combat jumps and was MIA behind enemy lines for a while; he died when I was seven. So I had to explore the history more on my own.

The movie the Great Raid is a true history combat movie. The stories of the Philippines and world war two has greatly affected this nation in my ways not recognized by most people. There is a large population of Philippinos in the Navy because of our military presence which help to liberate them from the Imperial Japanese.

I remember reading something in History class of the Bataan Death March, and watching an old movie about General MacArthur stating that he was going to return to the Philippines to help liberate them. There has not been much written or produced in the way of movies that talks about what happened on those islands.  However, around six years ago I saw a preview for a movie that came out around my birthday and I instantly had the feeling that I wanted to watch it.

The Great Raid, it produced on a grand scale like any Hollywood movie however people did not hear much about it. The story is absolutely inspiring and the acting is excellent. It is about 120 Rangers and Philippinos raiding a POW (Prisoner of War) Camp to set free 500 soldiers interned there. With over one thousand Japanese guarding the camp and 10,000 Japanese soldiers in the vicinity. It is definitely an impossible scenario that only heroes would attempt to take on. This is a movie with true glory due the soldiers. Rangers are hardcore and they have a tendency to take everything into combat even the kitchen sink if it will help them drive on and accomplish their mission.  However, here they have to be a little quieter. Watch it for yourself, and if you like it leave a comment at the bottom.

The Great Raid

Saving Private Ryan

Normandy was Hell

Saving Private Ryan starts out with one of the bloodiest scenes in a war movie. This movie starts out at the beach landing in Normandy during World War II. This is not a true story but the overall larger movements in the war are absolutely true and for the first ½ hour of the movie you will be amazed at how accurate the beach landing is portrayed. As the cliché goes freedom is not free, that is because someone already paid the price for it, and others are paying the price right now, and more will still pay the price in the future unfortunately.

This movie like Black Hawk Down required the actors to go through a rigorous training so that they could portray the soldiers with accuracy. I watched a documentary on the training and if I recall correctly they went through the training in England to simulate the conditions for the Normandy scene.

The summer this movie came out I was studying nothing but Physics and Astronomy in summer secession at the local community college. I had seven hours of class, and every other minute of the time I was awake during that six weeks I had my face in the science books. My birthday rolled around and my dad decided to take me to go see this movie. I was hesitant because I had so much studying that I had to finish but in the end of the conversation I gave in. We went to the theater and happy before we talked and waited for the movie to start. When it was all over we could not say a word to each other, because no word would have been sufficient, the whole ride home no conversation because we were reflected on the movie. The audience was left speechless as we were in the hallway walking to the car.

The story is easy enough to follow, it is about one man named Private Ryan who had all his brothers killed in Combat. The Department of Defense finding out how much this family had already suffered through this war, since Private Ryan had several brothers, felt it a wise decision to bring him back to home. The movie is truly a good story. The only thing that I did not like is that they painted the translator as being a wimp.  Often times the translator has to go with the unit, and by this they tend to be pretty tough guys as well.  When I was in South Korea I had a translator assigned permanently to my squad as did each squad.

Despite the liberal politics of the actors, this was well acted out, and despite the craziness of Hollywood, I would recommend anyone to watch it.

Saving Private Ryan

Hamburger Hill

The Price of Freedom is Carnage

The movie Hamburger Hill is a true story and it has always had a profound effect on me. It is a hardcore realistic combat movie where the story centers on the taking of one hill in the Ashua Valley in Vietnam. The story was about the 101 Airborne Infantry, with a strong military history.

I remember that once when I was in the 82nd Airborne I heard an old timer speaking about the truth of this story. It was the reason I watched the movie and I was glad I did learn the history. It gave me a sense of responsibility. One does not have a right to be on top of the hill if one did not fight to earn his right to be on top of the hill. In the movie when the soldiers finally took the hilltop a news crew came waltzing up to the top like they owned the place. The soldiers sent them away because they had no right to be on top of the hill. The hill was paid for by the blood of their fellow soldiers. It becomes a hollow land because of the dead that died there. This is the reason to build a mosque at ground zero is wrong. It would be wrong to build a church or synagogue there as well. If I had my way I would make a 5 mile square radius with the towers being in the center and make it a cemetery and memorial and build a small joint task military and law enforcement base to defend America from terrorism.

The hill is one of many in Vietnam that our soldiers fought to take just to be undermined by the forces of the politicians in Washington. We as a society need to keep in mind the prices that have been paid for us. We need to choose our politicians wisely. We need to choose our President wisely; we owe it to the ones that purchased our freedom and liberty with their blood.

The President is to be the commander in chief of the armed forces. Who can be this if they have no connection to these men? When there is no connection to the men that fight for hills with the ones that send them to fight for hills the hills will just be given up in the end and the soldiers sacrifice becomes vain. I refuse to let the soldiers sacrifices go in vain. That is why I stood my post and I think that everyone that enjoins their freedom should stand a post as well. We should also take care when we vote for politicians to only vote for those that realize that they are there in office to be a servant to the people for that is all they are to be, for the military men are the real Kings for they live for freedom.


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