Platoon Leader (film)

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Platoon Leader
Directed by Aaron Norris
Produced by Harry Alan Towers
Screenplay by Andrew Deutsch
Rick Marx
David L. Walker
Harry Alan Towers (adaptation)
Based on James R.McDonough: Platoon Leader
Starring Michael Dudikoff
Music by George S. Clinton
Cinematography Arthur Wooster
Edited by Michael J. Duthie
Breton Film Productions
Distributed by Cannon Films
Release dates
  • October 1988 (1988-10)
Running time 97 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1,348,771 (US)[1]

Platoon Leader is a 1988 Cannon Films film set in the Vietnam War and directed by Aaron Norris; it starred Michael Dudikoff and Michael DeLorenzo and was filmed in South Africa.

The film is about a newly commissioned infantry lieutenant who arrives in Vietnam to take over his first platoon. He finds he has to prove himself and earn the trust of the enlisted men if he is to lead them.


Lt. Jeffrey Knight, a new officer from West Point, is being airlifted to an outpost in Vietnam. When he arrives, he meets his platoon, a group of tough witted veterans of the war. Platoon Sergeant McNamara explains to Knight that the platoon does not need a leader that follows the laws. He is frowned upon by his soldiers for his actions besides Pvt. Parker, the radio officer.

One patrol, Knight stumbles carelessly onto a trip mine and is nearly killed. Parker radios and evac and McNamara orders the troops to move to and LZ for extraction. A week later in and Army hospital, Major Flynn asks Knight if he's able to take command again and Knight agrees. He is airlifted back to his platoon's outpost and is not greeted by his men, who expected him not to come back. The soldiers return his stuff to his office and Knight sees that he must take a different approach to have his men's respect.

On another patrol, the platoon are engaged by heavy Vietcong forces and Parker is hit by mortar fire. Knight tries to have his Medic save him, but his wounds are too deep and he dies in his arms. McNamara arrives with his squad and they group push back the forces to Sergeant Roach, the shot gunner and toughest soldier, killing the remaining VC. A week later, Major Flynn gives Knight 3 replacements such as Private Don Pike. Pike's rebel nature attracts Sergeant Roach's attention as he uses him for cover to hold a mine. Later, Knight find Bacera using drugs in his barracks. He orders him to stop, but Becera uses them on a patrol accidentally overdose on them.

At night, Knight finds a VC in the camp, and kills him alerting the men that the outpost will be attacked. They prepare for an attack, and the VC engage them with an enormous force. The base is hit hard. Sergeant Hayes uses his claymores to fend off VC and Knight calls for an airstrike. A bunch of Knights men are killed and injured but Huey gunships arrives and they fend off the VC.

In the morning, Knight confesses that he feels that he can't be a leader, but McNamara tells him that he got them this far and he can do the rest. He then is met with Captain Killinski, Lt. Riley and another Lt. He explains the VC battalion they fended off is close, and they have a way to finish them. Knight says that his plan would work better, and Killinski sees it to be done, trusting in his battle experience.

Knight's platoon move to their position in the jungle and Knight orders McNamara to scout ahead. He is injured badly and the platoon evac him to a helicopter. Captain Killinski tells Knight that a company of VC slipped through and are attacking a village. They arrive at the village and kill off the VC company. The platoon are attacked by Mortar fire and Knight is hit by shrapnel in the eye, but Sergeant Roach helps him. He explains the VC were after the villagers not the soldiers.

After the battle, Knight visits McNamara and sees he's okay. He explains to him they lost the village, but they fought off the VC. He explains to him that he's starting to understand the meaning of this war and lets him rest. A couple months later, Knight sees that McNamara return to the base and he and him share in a hug with Knight saying "welcome back to the country club" as they smile ending the film.


Michael Dudikoff ... Lieutenant Jeffrey Knight

Robert F. Lyons ... Sergeant Michael McNamara

Michael DeLorenzo ... Private Raymond Bacera

Jesse Dabson ... Private Joshua Parker

Rick Fitts ... Sergeant Robert Hayes

Tony Pierce ... Private Jan Schultz

Daniel Demorest ... Private Duffy

Brian Libby ... Sergeant "Roach"

Michael Rider ... Private Don Pike

William Smith ... Major Flynn

Al Karaki ... Private Kemp

Evan J. Klisser ... Private Larsen

Evan Barker ... Captain Klinski

A.J. Smith ... Lieutenant Riley

Dean Raphael Ferrandini ... Medic

Willie Olmstead ... Medic (as Bill Olmstead)

Themi Venturis ... New Lieutenant

Joyce Long ... Mother With Child


  1. ^ "Platoon Leader (1988)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 

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