Kong: A Vietnam War Movie Remade

By Kevin Yu

 

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Poster of Kong: Skull Island, (2017)

Kong: Skull Island is a remake of the well known King Kong story. In this latest installment, Legendary Entertainment hopes to introduce the giant ape King Kong to other legendary monsters, such as Godzilla in the sequel, and form a “Monster Universe” to stand alongside with Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe. So, Kong: Skull Island is a monster movie, granted, but during the two hours’ watching, it struck me as something else, something more than a monster movie. Kong: Skull Island, in its deepest core, is a movie about the Vietnam War.

 

It is actually not that hard to tell, because the plot is directly related to Vietnam. This movie takes place at the end of Vietnam War, when the mad scientist Bill is in need of military escort to explore the Skull Island. The soldiers who are about to retreat from Vietnam are sent to go with him, barely knowing anything about what they are going to face. Vietnam is mentioned throughout the movie, including some good jokes. In short, Vietnam plays a magnificent part in the movie.

The visuals and cinematography of Kong is an obvious tribute to Apocalypse Now, a Vietnam War movie classic. Helicopters flying in the sunset, river gleaming from the last ray of sunshine, and the jungle standing alongside its banks, dark and silent, all of these are a visual throwback to the Vietnam feeling that Apocalypse Now demonstrated so successfully. And I didn’t even watch many Vietnam War movies, otherwise I’d probably find more.

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Still from Kong: Skull Island, (2017.)

More than just visuals, the sunset, the river, the jungle, this is Vietnam retold in a sci-fi background. Soldiers head into the jungle on Skull Island, not knowing what’s waiting, who they are fighting, or why they are even here, very much alike the soldiers heading into the jungle of Vietnam. The Colonel performed by Samuel Jackson has mixed feelings about the Vietnam War, saying that they didn’t lose it, they abandoned it. When facing Kong, however, he says that this is a war he will not lose, apparently regarding Vietnam as a lost war and the fight against Kong as another Vietnam.

The Vietnam motif in Kong: Skull Island is both apparent and subtle, and every well and cleverly done. Though overall a simple, Hollywood-ish, not so interesting monster movie, Kong has some great callbacks to Vietnam worth noting if you decide to see it.

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5 Responses to Kong: A Vietnam War Movie Remade

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I have not yet seen this film but will definitely look out for connections to Vietnam. It seems like this does a lot to add depth to the film, rather than just making it an action, suspense film that has been made a few times over. I cannot wait to see this new take soon!

    –Maddie Turner

  2. mediaphiles says:

    While I have not seen this film yet either, I think it’s interesting that they took such a strong political approach (or maybe it is more subtle to most viewers?) I am a big fan of Brie Larson and as I’ve been seeing stills and footage from the movie, I’m really curious to see how they handled the “damsel” role in this version!

    – Lydia Geisel

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I have not seen the film either, but I have to say I’m not to excited to see but I am Interested to see it. After reading your blog it gives me something to look forward to rather than going into the theater with a clear open mind to the film.

    – John Armstrong

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I saw this film over break, and I completely expected it to be a generic monster action movie. I think the Vietnam era setting and motifs throughout the film do make this film worth seeing. The film is not great, but it is certainly enjoyable if you are a fan of action films, and the Vietnam motifs add to it and make it less generic.

    -Walker Rise

  5. mediaphiles says:

    I have not seen this movie yet, but I absolutely loved Peter Jackson’s film, and as such, am very excited to see “Kong: Skull Island.” It sounds as though the story has changed a bit and I am excited to see where the writers and director took it! This is definitely on a “need-to-see” list coming up.

    – Luke Dellorso

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