Plot: Lt. Jeff Knight (Michael Dudikoff) is fresh out of West Point, but he is thrust into a leadership position in Vietnam, which leads to his men not having much faith in his abilities on the battlefield. The man he assumes control from was not well liked either, as he was determined to do as little as possible and lay low until his tour ended. But Knight is not going to take that approach, as he wants to lead in the field and be a soldier, not someone hiding in the shadows. Even so, he has an uphill climb if he wants to win hearts and minds, especially in this environment. But he tries to bond with the men and prove he is a capable leader, on and off the battlefield, until he is wounded in combat and barely survives. Can he return to his tour and resume command, or is he simply another casualty in this brutal conflict?
Entertainment Value: This one has a lot of potential, as an 80s movie produced by Cannon with Michael Dudikoff in the lead. The movie isn’t the b movie action cheese you might expect however, instead Platoon Leader is more of a serious take on war cinema, with some explosive action tossed in. While the action driven elements are fun, the movie is too serious in tone and comes off a little slow at times, so those looking for 80s schlock might be let down. The serious tone isn’t an issue itself, but the cast simply isn’t up to shouldering a serious premise like this, even Dudikoff struggles with the depth needed for the role. He handles the action scenes, comedic moments, and basic drama well, but stumbles in the more emotional, powerful sequences. The same is true for the rest of the cast, which includes Michael DeLorenzo, Robert F. Lyons, William Smith, and Rick Fitts. When the movie shifts from drama to action, the pace tightens and things pick up, but there’s not constant action in this one. I admire the attempt to make an earnest war movie, but given the cast and production values involved, I think Platoon Leader would have been better served as 80s b movie action. But if you’re a fan of Dudikoff or Cannon, this is still worth a look.
No nakedness. A little blood, but not much. A few wounds are saturated in the red stuff, but we only see the aftermath, not the kinetic violence. The shoot outs and such are non graphic and have that 80s action feel, so not a grounded, visceral approach to the horrors of war. The action is frequent, with explosions, gun battles, and sieges all on showcase, but as I said above, it is not wall to wall action here. I did appreciate the action scenes, as they liven up the sometimes slow pace and provide some memorable moments. I love how high impact the grenades are, launching people around and we’re even treated to a grenade gangbang at one point, which is always fun. The dialogue is fine, but has the serious tone I’ve mentioned and as such, doesn’t give us the kind of wild one liners you might expect from a Dudikoff action flick. I do think it is competent writing, just not overly memorable or quotable. A few fun lines sneak in, just don’t count on one liner after one liner here. As for craziness, the serious tone and reeled in action ensures there’s little over the top madness here.
Overall Insanity: 0/10