This is a solid and memorable film about American military involvement in Vietnam. With a maximum amount of realism, this gritty tale set in 1964 manages to convey the confusion, the corruption, and the courage of that jungle war. Major Asa Barker (Burt Lancaster), a World War II and Korean War veteran, is ordered to defend Muc wa, a tranquil South Vietnam outpost. He has grave reservations about the order. Most of his worst fears are confirmed when the Americans and their native support squad take over the area.
Director Ted Post has done a remarkable job in presenting the tensions, duplicities, and tedium that characterized the Vietnam military experience. Through a group of diverse and interesting characters, we get a feel for what it must have been like to be there. Craig Wasson plays the part of a draftee whose efforts at cross-cultural brotherhood backfire; Jonathan Goldsmith puts in an affecting performance as a Korean vet whose spirit breaks under stress; David Clennon is oddly touching as a computer expert who believes that technology can win the war for the Americans; Joe Unger registers well as a gung ho lieutenant who wants to die for his country; and Marc Singer is fine as a career office who hopes to use the combat zone to prove his professional worth.
Go Tell the Spartans has none of the superficial touches that marred The Boys in Company C. These characters never come across as cardboard cutouts. Through Lancaster's moving depiction of Major Barker, we realize that some of the old-timers who fought in Vietnam were capable of transcending the waste and the absurdity through deeds of valor. Don't miss this important and far overlooked movie!