Under Heavy Fire (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

(This film is also known as Going Back.)

When model Carré Otis made her film debut in Wild Orchid in 1990, I was struck by the extremes she brought to her role. On the one hand, she was one of the freshest looking and most beautiful women I had ever seen. On the other hand, she was one of the worst actresses I had ever seen.

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

She lived about twenty hard lifetimes during the 1990's. Heroin addiction, life with Hollywood bad boy Mickey Rourke, tattoos, massive weight gain, bulemia, massive weight loss. After all that, she has her looks back and is just as beautiful as ever.

And her acting has not improved one iota.

She met her match in this cast. Think about it for a second. If you wanted to  match her with a perfect male counterpart, an exquisitely handsome man with no acting ability, who would you choose? There may be several good answers to that question, but I think her actual co-star, Casper Van Dien, was as good a choice as any.

It's a war story about a group of Vietnam vets who return after the war. Van Dien plays an officer who is falsely accused of having caused many deaths in his company by providing the flyboys with incorrect bombing co-ordinates. Otis plays a reporter who is covering the team's return to their former battlefield.


Carre Otis shows her breasts in a sex scene with Van Dien inside mosquito netting.

Another woman shows her breasts in a sex scene with one of Van Dien's company.

The casting was truly bizarre. In addition to the Otis/Van Dien debacle, the strangest thing is that the Vietnam Vets all seem to be in their 20s and 30s. I kept thinking that the film must have taken place in 1978 or something, but when I looked it up I saw that the present day action takes place in 2001, while the flashbacks occur in 1968. Van Dien was supposed to be a captain in the war, so I suppose he would have been - what? -  26? 28? 30?. That would make him between 59 and 63 in 2001, but he played the part with no aging effects except grey hair and a grey beard. And some of his old company looked even younger! I just didn't get it at all. It looked like my high school's production of Oklahoma!, in which the older characters, like Aunt Eller, were played by high school kids who made no attempt to look or act older except for the official Lorne Greene Brand can of spray-on grey hair.

Despite the casting problems, and although it went straight-to-vid in the USA on a bare bones DVD with no widescreen version, this film is nowhere near as bad as you would think. In fact, this might have been a decent little movie with some better acting from actors the right age for the parts. I found some things to like in this film.

  • The musical score consisted of the greatest hits of the Vietnam Era (Country Joe, Buffalso Springfield). This isn't the first period film to use that music, but it was used correctly nonetheless.
  • There were some very affecting interviews with the people of Vietnam.
  • The story of Echo company itself (Van Dien's unit) was fairly interesting.
  • The production values and location footage were amazingly good for a straight-to-vid.

You know who directed this? Sydney Furie.

I didn't even know he was still alive.

DVD info from Amazon

  • no widescreen

  • no meaningful features

Furie is no stranger to Vietnam War films, having directed The Boys in Company C, but his best films were made between 1965-1978. Based on the IMDb scores, his top film is The Ipcress File, which was made 36 years before Under Heavy Fire. I am now an old, retired geezer, and I was a high school junior when that film came out! Furie made his first film when I was nine years old. He isn't slowing down a bit. IMDb says he made two films in 2002, and is making two more in 2003, both starring Dolph Lundgren. OK, OK, they're not monster summer blockbusters or artistic triumphs, but the guy is still at it.

The Critics Vote

  • no major reviews on line

The People Vote ...


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this film is a C-. It isn't as bad as you might think, and it could have been a lot better with some decent actors who were the right age for the parts.

Return to the Movie House home page