Though the anti-war sentiments of Hamburger Hill come through loud and clear, the film is squarely on the side of those courageous, much-maligned Americans who fought and died in Vietnam. Based on a true incident, the story takes place in 1969, as the 101st Airborne Division confronts the Vietcong in a bloody battle over Hill 937 (aka "Hamburger Hill") in the A Shau Valley. During the next ten days, both sides incur heavy losses, but the Cong refuse to surrender the hill. The ultimate American "victory" turns out to be a hollow one indeed. Scripted by Vietnam War vet Jim Carabatsos, Hamburger Hill not only underlines the futility of the war but also the pressures brought to bear upon the troops by an insensitive, often hostile media. By utilizing a cast of unknowns, director John Irvin deftly avoids the Hollywoodized slickness of such bigger-budgeted efforts as Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter.
by Hal Erickson synopsis