The Green Berets (Blu-ray Review)

The Green BeretsThe Duke has made his way to Blu-ray.  The John Wayne classic The Green Berets recently hit store shelves on Blu-ray disc, which for many, was a long awaited arrival.  It’s a positive thing to see studios focusing not only on current films, but those from the past as well.  Let’s not waste any more time on an introduction and find out the verdict on John Wayne in 1080p!


The Green Berets was originally a novel penned by author Robin Moore.  Moore’s literary vision made the transition to film in 1968.  John Wayne starred in and co-directed the Vietnam piece, though he did receive a little help in establishing some of the film’s realism.  As the back of the Blu-ray case points out, Wayne actually wrote President Lyndon B. Johnson at the time for military help.  The vehicles and pyrotechnic tools he received would help him bring success to this dramatic tale.

For the inundated, the Green Berets are a special forces group within the U.S. Army.  Though pretty much every special forces group has taken a backseat in popularity to the Navy SEALs, these guys are not somebody I would mess with and I’m glad to have them on our side.  Wayne and co-director Ray Kellogg teamed up to bring us a story focusing around one specific Green Beret group whose duty, led by Col. Mike Kirby (Wayne), is to maintain the security of a certain firebase and assist the Montagnards while fending off any North Vietnamese Regulars and Viet Cong in the process.  Also along for the ride is newspaper reporter George Beckworth, played by David Janssen.  Beckworth and his employer have serious doubts about the purpose and cause of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, so he eventually gets cleared to tag along with soldiers. 

You will find the film does a great job of establishing a foundation while not taking long to jump in the mix early on.  What you won’t find is an unrealistic propaganda film in The Green Berets.  This was a well-assembled production and quite gripping for its day and still maintains some dramatic effect today.  There weren’t any shot soldiers mumbling, “Oh they got me,” while their comrades in arms unrealistically took out droves of the enemy in retaliation.  You’ll see the Americans and allying South Vietnamese take their licks just the same as the commie bad guys. 

As for the special effects, some are unacceptable by today’s standards, but we can’t go by that.  Some of that stuff was the best they had to work with back in the day.  What I can critique is the blood shown in the movie.  I’ve never seen blood so vibrantly red with paint-like thickness before.  It was distracting the first time I saw the movie in the 80’s and it’s still distracting today.  Blood isn’t new.  Why was it so difficult back then to replicate the color?  I’m not sure, but it is just plain silly looking at times in the film.  Also, don’t focus too much on the extras, particularly those used as VC in their assault on the base.  There are a few Caucasians in there with nothing more than smeared shoe polish on their faces to somewhat disguise their otherwise obvious features.  Oh, let’s not forget the North American foliage and pine trees that dotted the Vietnamese landscape in this movie.  Can anyone say ‘Georgia?’  Because of this, I couldn’t tell if the characters were still on a base in the U.S. or if that scene was supposed to be Southeast Asia. 

Regarding the acting, everyone from George Takei to Aldo Ray does at least a fair enough job in their roles.  Though John Wayne wasn’t the greatest of actors, his performance does enough here in all its sometimes stoic, sometimes grinning delivery.  All in all, The Green Berets is worth a rental if nothing else.  This film is on such a pedestal of its own though that many would have to recommend a buy.

The Green Berets


Although you won’t find a lot of distracting grain dancing about on the screen in this 1.77:1 aspect ratio, there is this somewhat smoothed-over appearance that doesn’t really bring out a lot of the finer details that Blu-ray is capable of revealing.  Unfortunately, The Green Berets only takes partial advantage of the 1080p, VC-1 encode.  I don’t want to send you down the wrong path.  The movie still looks decent.  There’s just room for improvement. 

The Green Berets 


The film’s audio track is presented in a monaural format.  While unfortunate, this is not the fault of something lost in the transfer to Blu-ray, as this was more a case of the track’s original recording.  Still, the end result is uninspiring and feels like a glass of Coke left out over night.  It’s flat as flat can be.  If the sub-woofer got used during the film, I certainly missed it.  The performance there is forgettable and unimpressive.   

 The Green Berets

Special Features 

Anyone buying this disc for its extras is going to be sorely disappointed.  There are two, yes just two items to view here in standard definition:

  • The Moviemakers: The Making of the Green Berets – This featurette gives viewers a brief glimpse behind the scenes of the film being shot on location at Fort Benning, Georgia (7:11).
  • Theatrical Trailer

 The Green Berets

Final Thoughts 

Pure and simple, The Green Berets is a darn good movie with a lot of replay value.  If it wasn’t for the scarlet semi-gloss used for blood, I’d pretty much be sold on this film.  Still, after some mental debating and quieting the voices that weren’t talking about this flick, you’ve got to add this John Wayne classic to your high def library. 


Bring home The Green Berets on Blu-ray today!



The Green Berets Blu-ray Cover Art




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