The first half of Kubrick's movie steers clear of South East Asia altogether, focusing on the dehumanising training programme undergone by a group of novice US Marines. Then, after a suitably melodramatic bloodbath, the action switches to 'Nam, where star recruit Pvt Joker (Modine) soon tires of his behind-the-lines job as military journalist and provokes his CO into sending him forth into the shit. Black but obvious irony abounds, madness and racist bigotry are rampant, and a muddled moral message arises from the mire of a sprawling second half when the cynical, nominally heroic Joker finally learns to kill. None of which is to suggest that the film is bad; despite a certain stereotyping and predictability there are moments of gripping interest. Finally, however, Kubrick's direction is as steely cold and manipulative as the régime it depicts, and we never really get to know, let alone care about, the hapless recruits on view.