Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
The Siege of Firebase Gloria (1989)
Fries Home Video | Review by Dan Taylor

There's an old Chinese proverb that says, "The courage of your enemies does you honor," and that's the theme of Brian Trenchard-Smith's incredible 'Nam flick SIEGE OF FIREBASE GLORIA. It may be cliché as they get, but its more dominant elements make this a highly entertaining and exciting action/war flick.

Wings Hauser (NO SAFE HAVEN, DEAD MAN WALKING) stars as Di Nardo, "the type of gung-ho fighting machine the Marines are famous for." He's the right hand man to Sgt. Major Hafner, played with ball-busting gusto by ex-Marine Lee Ermey (Kubrick's FULL METAL JACKET) and the two must take a group of braindead dopeheads at Firebase Gloria and turn them into a fighting machine that will "refortify this shithole, and then protect it like it was your daughter's cherry." And that they do, in "balls out" macho war film fashion.

The flick is populated with all the war film stereotypes: Hauser's Di Nardo is the on-the-edge soldier with a decent streak running through him. "Sharp eye and a good nose for trouble," and entirely capable of going mental at the drop of a hat. Ermey is the career Marine, full of insults and wisdom, a great deal of which he probably drew from his own experiences (he and Trenchard-Smith were responsible for the additional dialogue). Albert Popwell (a familiar face to fans of the DIRTY HARRY films) plays Jones, the 1st Sergeant of Gloria, and the man who dispenses words of hope and faith to the men.

There's also "the college boy with the girl back home" and the "guy with 17 days left." So you just know that these two have the longevity of new crew members on an episode of STAR TREK.

The plot has Gloria under attack from about 2500 "dinks" laying in wait in the jungle. Communication has been cut off, supplies are running low, and ammunition is at a premium. The troops are screwed major league, but through their extreme gutsiness they hold off several assaults before the final slow-motion battle sprinkled with a bit of Peckinpah.

While the battle sequences kick serious ass, the flick belongs to Hauser as Di Nardo. Seeing him atop sandbags, dropping "dinks," yellin' "Run you scumbags" makes me wonder why he never achieved bigger stardom. He even shows his sensitive side by telling a cute nurse: "Do you have any idea what Charlie would do if he got in here? He would rape you and your nurses until you were dead. But he'd have to kill me first."

Whew, talk about a romantic! SIEGE OF FIREBASE GLORIA has it all. It's a guts-and-action-filled guy flick!


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