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Uncommon Valor

DVD cover
Directed by Ted Kotcheff
Produced by David Brown
Michael Tolkin
Nick Wechsler
Written by Joe Gayton
Wings Hauser story (uncredited)
Starring Gene Hackman
Fred Ward
Patrick Swayze
Reb Brown
Tim Thomerson
Robert Stack
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Stephen H. Burum
Editing by Mark Melnick
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) 16 December 1983 (premiere)
Running time 105 min.
Country United States
Language English

Uncommon Valor is a 1983 war film written by Joe Gayton and directed by Ted Kotcheff, about a Marine officer who tries to put together a team to rescue his son, who he believes is a prisoner of war being held in Laos after the Vietnam War.


Plot summary

Taking place in the early 1980s and set in the context of the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue, former Marine Colonel Jason Rhodes' (Gene Hackman) is obsessed with finding his son Frank, listed as "Missing In Action" since 1972. After ten years of searching Southeast Asia and turning up several leads, Rhodes believes that Frank is still alive and being kept in Laos as a prisoner of war.

After petitioning the United States government for help, but receiving none, Colonel Rhodes brings together a disparate group of Vietnam War veterans, including some who were a part of Frank's platoon: Wilkes (Fred Ward), a "tunnel rat" who suffers from PTSD; "Blaster," a demolitions expert (Reb Brown); and "Sailor," a mental case with a heart of gold (Randall "Tex" Cobb). Additionally, two helicopter pilots, Distinguished Flying Cross recipient Johnson (Harold Sylvester) and Charts (Tim Thomerson) join the group. Former Marine Kevin Scott (Patrick Swayze) joins the team as the son of a pilot who was shot down in Vietnam and listed as "MIA."

With the financial backing of a rich oil businessman (whose son served in Frank's platoon and is also listed as "MIA") (Robert Stack), the men secretly train near Galveston, Texas before embarking on their trip to the Laos camp in an attempt to bring back the POWs.



  • The machine guns in the Huey helicopters were German World War II MG-42's, or a derivative, such as the M52 or MG3, rather than the M60 common to American and South Vietnamese helicopters which saw service in the Vietnam War. The 'standard' of armaments for such helicopters will vary, dependent on the service weapon employed by the state or entity which owns and/or operates the helicopters.
  • The helicopters used in the film were purchased (as opposed to rented) and repainted, since the United States Department of Defense was unwilling to rent the production military-spec Huey or JetRanger helicopters due to the perceived anti-government nature of the film.
  • The Laotian POW camp was built in the Lumahai Valley on the island of Kauai, with scenes filmed in early-August, 1983.
  • Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert of At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert both gave the film a Thumbs down.
  • Character actor Jeremy Kemp appears briefly as a ferryman who transports Rhodes' team across a Thai river into Laos, he is credited yet has no spoken lines in the film due to his scenes being cut.

See also

External links



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