RIDE THE THUNDER is a compelling docudrama that sheds a positive light on America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Based on the book by Richard Botkin, it tells the story of the bond between American soldiers and the South Vietnamese people. The movie is specifically about the friendship between John Ripley, American marine legend, and Le La Binh, a Vietnamese war hero, focusing on their fight against communism. It uses a series of media clips from the past and interviews with Vietnam War survivors to demonstrate the misrepresentation of the war in the United States.
RIDE THE THUNDER has high production values that intersperse informative information and real interviews with a visually appealing story. It has a positive Christian worldview showing the dedication and commitment of American soldiers to save South Vietnam from communism. There are some violent scenes of soldiers being taunted and tortured, so caution is advised. Despite the violence and pain depicted, however, RIDE THE THUNDER ends with the notion that courage is not the absence of God, but the faith to know that God is working through us.
(CC, BB, ACAC, L, VV, AA, MM) Strong Christian, moral, anti-communist worldview, with biblical virtues of love, loyalty, compassion and faithfulness displayed among American and South Vietnamese soldiers committed to continue to fight against what they know is wrong (communism), war survivors discuss forgiving those that mocked them for being soldiers, soldiers talk about their grief in the deaths of many innocent people, and references to God getting people through difficult times; light foul language, with three obscenities, including one “s” word and one “h” word; strong violence such as man falls to his knees and coughs blood, North Vietnamese solider hits South Vietnam men with a gun, kicks, pushes, spits, and knocks them around with his fists, man with blood dripping from his head shown on side of the road, bloody and bruised soldiers with open wounds suffer from exhaustion and verbal abuse from North Vietnamese soldiers, one scene of a bomb blowing up a bridge in the distance, men fight with each other, innocent victims held hostage against their will, North Vietnamese seek revenge on the South Vietnamese and murder anyone that goes against their desire for communism; no sexual content, one scene of wife kissing husband on the cheek; no nudity; light drunkenness displayed at a bar, angry men drink beer and ridicule soldiers; no smoking or drugs; and, greed, revenge, blackmail, and lying.
RIDE THE THUNDER is an engaging docudrama that brings a positive light on one of the most misrepresented wars in history. Based on the book by Richard Botkin, the movie focuses on the friendship between U.S. Marine, John Ripley, and Vietnam Marine, Le Ba Binh, actual war heroes, who earned awards for their courageous leadership.
The movie opens with the last days in the Vietnam War. The South Vietnamese soldiers went days without food. They are dirty, bruised and bloody. Many innocent people died, but the bond between the Americans and the South Vietnamese people remained strong. However, Americans back home saw the U.S. as the enemy and gave no support for the war, causing tension in America.
RIDE THE THUNDER explains how grateful the South Vietnamese were for America’s level of commitment to stay and help them fight against Communism. This reoccurring theme of loyalty and friendship is present throughout the entire movie, shedding light on the moral duty to bring justice to the oppressed.
After the war ends, Ripley returns home to his family, where he’s committed to speaking about the heroic acts demonstrated by American soldiers. His friend, Le Ba Binh, did not have it so easily. He was taken from his family and put in prison for 11 years. There he was tortured and beaten. When he was released, he moved to America where he was able to prosper. The way Le Ba Binh was able to build a life in America shows the power of freedom in contrast to the deep oppression of communism in Vietnam. The docudrama continues to educate the audience on the war through past media footage and interviews with Vietnam War survivors. Through a series of interviews, the audience gets a better representation of what it was like to fight in that war.
In RIDE THE THUNDER, the Vietnam and American war survivors talk about the pain, abuse and torture they endured during war. Their stories are honest and brutal and caution is advised for young children. One survivor talks about a time when he was tied down naked for weeks and whipped 50 times a day. What makes the film unique is the actual footage taken from clips with celebrities like Jane Fonda and John Kerry. The clips of these public figures protesting the war display the level of impact their voice had on society. Through their voice and inaccurate stories that Americans were raping and killing innocent families, American soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War became the enemy in their own country.
The media’s impact made the Vietnam War one of the most ill-received wars in America. American soldiers took the heat for agreeing to fight. There are two sides to every story as this documentary attempts to explain the side people never knew, the good side. Americans were not the enemy. They were the good guys. The documentary has a positive worldview implying good will prevail, even when it goes unseen. The South Vietnamese were oppressed for many years, but through America’s commitment to help them many were able to rise above their situation and create a better life for future generations. There are several scenes depicted of starving men being tortured, imprisoned and beaten. Although the scenes are not explicitly gory and often cut before harsh levels of violence are reached, caution is advised for older children.
Despite the violence and pain caused by war, RIDE THE THUNDER ends with the notion that courage is not the absence of God, but courage is the faith to know God’s working through us.
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