The 2019 Aussie film brings the Battle of Long Tan “up close and personal”
Readers seeking a realistic, authentically staged re-creation of the conditions that Maj. Harry Smith’s D Company Aussie soldiers endured at the August 1966 Battle of Long Tan are encouraged to watch director Kriv Stender’s combat-action film, Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan.
When you watch this movie you are experiencing Australia’s deadliest battle in the Vietnam War as close as one can possibly get—at least, without getting shot at. Danger Close was filmed in northern Queensland, Australia, at tropical/subtropical locations that closely parallel the terrain of the abandoned rubber plantation at Long Tan in South Vietnam’s Phuoc Tuy province, where the battle took place.
The two-hour film stars Travis Fimmel (best known to American audiences for his role as “Ragnar Lothbrok” in the long-running History Channel series, Vikings) as Smith and Luke Bracey (Hacksaw Ridge) as his right-hand man and closest confident, Sgt. Bob Buick. Anthony Hayes plays Smith’s battalion commander, Lt. Col. Colin Townsend, and veteran actor Richard Roxburgh (Moulin Rouge, Mission Impossible: 2) is contentious Brigadier Oliver David Jackson. All the actors portray actual participants in the battle, although Stender’s characterizations of them are somewhat dramatized to propel the film’s plot and artistically accentuate actual incidents of physical and moral courage faced by the protagonists.
In addition to presenting the combat in gut-wrenchingly authentic detail, the film emphasizes the vitally important role that the “Kiwi” (New Zealanders) artillery played in providing the “danger close” fire support that prevented D Company from being overrun by waves of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong attackers. It also shows the courageous actions of Royal Australian Air Force helicopter Flight Lts. Frank Riley and Bob Grandin who volunteered to brave enemy fire and “socked in” monsoon weather to deliver lifesaving ammunition to D Company.
To this Vietnam combat veteran, Danger Close deservedly joins the ranks of exceptionally well-made, authentically re-created Vietnam War films, such as Platoon (1986), Full Metal Jacket (1987) and We Were Soldiers (2002). V
Jerry Morelock is senior editor of Vietnam magazine.
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This article appeared in the December 2020 issue of Vietnam magazine. For more stories from Vietnam magazine, subscribe here and visit us on Facebook: