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Film / Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan

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Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan (2019) is a historical war drama detailing the Battle of Long Tan where 108 Australian and New Zealand troops held off 2000 NVA forces in the Vietnam War.

In 1966, 1st Australian Task Force is stationed at Nui Dat in South Vietnam. Following a VC mortar-attack on the base, Major Harry Smith (Travis Fimmel of Vikings fame) volunteers to lead his Delta Company, a mixed bag of volunteer professionals and conscripts, in search of the enemy.

He found them. The North Vietnamese Army's 275th Regiment and D445 Regiment of the Viet Cong. All two thousand of them.

Though the movie does exaggerate some character dynamics for narrative effect, it has been praised by critics and veterans of the battle for its accuracy to the actual events.


The movie contains examples of:

  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: The tropical climate means the relief column's M113s are actually rusty as hell, but the Gunship Rescue they and their fifty-calibre machine-guns deliver is first-rate.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Before the main battle starts, Private Large learns that beer and firearms aren't a good mix. Thankfully, he doesn't actually hit anything, but that doesn't stop Major Smith reading him the riot act when he tries to bluff his way out of trouble.
  • Impeded Communication / The Radio Dies First: Both Eleven and Twelve Platoons have their radios knocked-out by enemy fire at various points; Private Akell has to run a spare up to Twelve Platoon. Back at base, the gunners find their switchboard temporarily disabled by a lightning strike! (Historical note: the movie doesn't reference another strike that blew up the base latrines.)
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  • Jungle Warfare: Naturally, with the Australians fighting in the jungles of South Vietnam against a numerically superior North Vietnamese force.
  • Majorly Awesome: Harry Smith, Delta Company's commander. A Consummate Professional who initially asks for a transfer to the SAS because he feels he's being wasted shepherding conscripts, but soon gets all the action he could ask for.
  • Mildly Military / Screw the War, We're Partying: During the mortar attack on Nui Dat, conscript Private Large has a beer while on perimeter watch, and Lieutenant Sharp has to be forcibly convinced to abandon his poker game. Both are firmly rebuked for their casual attitudes in short order.
    • Also pointedly inverted at the concert. The Diggers in the audience are visibly loving every second of the performance - but when Little Patty's song ends, and the raging gunfire becomes audible, everyone drops what they're doing and hauls ass for their battle-station.
  • The Needs of the Many: The brigadier in charge of the base won't send his reserves out in the APCs to rescue the troops under attack, because this would leave the base defenceless against the other Viet Cong forces which are known to be in the area.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Australian soldiers are notorious for 'excessive initiative', and these lads are no exception. It's almost a Running Gag that multiple characters disregard their superiors' dithering - or outright orders to stay put - to go out and do what they can to help their comrades.
  • Sergeant Rock: Several, most notably Eleven Platoon's Bob Buick.
  • Trial by Friendly Fire: The whole battle basically consists of this, but at two points things get really desperate:
    • With Eleven Platoon about to be overrun, Sergeant Bob Buick calls the guns in on his own position. Major Smith has to (reluctantly) endorse this request, and it visibly costs him to do it.
    • Later on, the rest of the company find themselves just as deep in trouble, and Morrie Stanley orders the shellfire in "danger close". When the gunners demur, a stressed-out Stanley shouts into the radio "Fire the fucking guns where we want, or you're gonna lose the lot of us!"
  • Unfriendly Fire: Major Smith threatens Private Large with this, if Large does not get his act together.