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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Tactical Blog from Cactus Tactical

The Everchanging Batman

 Guns & Batman

Today we're going to have some fun with a classic favorite, Batman. We're going to take a look at Batman throughout the decades as well as some of guns used in the films. While the TV shows were what introduced us to Batman we're going to take a look strictly at the a Batman franchise as it stands in these films. As to highlight the variations in time frames & the gentlemen that were behind the mask we're going to take a look at four very different interpretations of the DC comic book character and his wonderful toys.

#1. Batman

1989 feature film adaptation of the DC Comics character. Directed by Tim Burton

As our first film sequence rolls out we start in a back alley of Gotham, a tourist family is mugged, and the mother and son threatened. It's not long when those crooks are accosted by a costumed vigilante, that resembles a giant bat. The vigilante tells one of the crooks to tell his friends about him. When the crook wants to know 'what' this creature is, the costumed man simply and powerfully replies, "I'm Batman."

When the two crooks are found by the Police, Lt. Eckhardt shows up at the scene, dismissing their description of a man dressed up like a bat. However, the crime scene is soon found by Alexander Knox, a reported for Gotham City's newspaper, who has been following the 'bat attacks.'

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Gotham City has held a press conference, introducing the city's new District Attorney, Harvey Dent. Harvey promises to clean up Gotham, and make it a place for respectable people once again. The press conference comes just weeks before the 200th Anniversary Gala celebrating the birth of Gotham City.

Back at the Gotham newspaper, Knox meets one of the paper's new photographers, Vicki Vale. Knox is immediately interested in her when she talks about wanting to  find out who Batman is. Knowing that Commissioner Gordon has a file on this vigilante, Knox intends to get into a charity benefit at Millionaire Bruce Wayne's mansion, where Gordon will be attending. Vale invites herself as well.

While those two are sneaking around elsewhere in Gotham, Crime Boss Carl Grissom is angered at the persistence of Harvey Dent, figuring that the new District Attorney could find out about their connection to the Axis Chemicals plant. A man that works for Carl,  Jack Napier, nonchalantly suggests they break in and steal the files that could incriminate them. Carl takes to this idea, and recommends that Jack is the man for the job. Jack is hesitant, but Carl insists, referring to  him his "number one guy."

At Axis Chemicals, Napier's men find the safe...only to find the documents they came for are gone. Suspecting a setup, Jack warns his men to watch out. Shortly thereafter, they are ambushed by Eckhardt and his officers. During the chase, Batman eventually corners Napier, and catches him just before he falls into a vat of chemicals. However, Batman lets go, and Jack falls in. Gordon sees Batman, orders him to halt, but the Caped Crusader gets away. Gordon then instructs his men not speak of what was seen.

Jack Napier's death has been ruled as a suicide but little does anyone know he  has managed to survive. Jack seeks help from a shady Doctor, however, the chemicals he fell into have permanently bleached his skin white, and turned his hair green. Also, his face seems frozen in a permanent grin. Jack then returns to Grissom's penthouse, having concluded that he had Eckhardt tip off the Police, and that Carl set him up to die. Revealing his newly-changed face, Jack claims to now be The Joker, and kills Grissom.

Back in the criminal underworld, the Joker claims that Grissom has gone away for awhile, and has left him in charge. Claiming that he is  to oversee all of Grissom's affairs, the other crime bosses are not convinced, and still fail to acknowledge this, even when the Joker electrocutes one of their own.

Eventually, one of the crime lords attempts to go public, holding a press conference saying that Grissom has left him and his associates, excluding The Joker, in control of Grissom's Empire. It is then that the Joker first publicly appears, and stabs the crime lord in the throat, before driving off.
During the press conference, the joker dispatched one of his men known as Bob, to snap pictures of people there. One of them is of Vicki Vale, whom the Joker is immediately infatuated with.

Also of interest to the Joker is the Axis Chemicals plant. Using a variety of chemicals, the Joker creates a chemical known as 'Smilex.' Combined with any normal household product, it causes a person to die of laughter, leaving a permanent grin on the victim's face. Remind you of anyone? The public stops using any household products as the risk of death is too high.

Shortly after this, Vicki Vale receives a request from Bruce Wayne to meet him at the Gotham Museum of Art. Upon her arrival, she finds a table reserved, and receives a gift box containing a gas mask. Within seconds, the museum begins filling with sleeping gas. Vicki puts on the mask, only to see the Joker enter with a flesh colored face, and watches as he and his crew vandalize the art pieces before sitting at her table. It soon becomes apparent that the invitation was sent by him, a rather twisted romantic gesture for an intimate evening.

At this point Batman swoops in through the skylight, and with Bat style & grace makes off with Vale. The Joker's goons give chase, and we get to see the Tim Burton vision of this films Batmobile. The Batmobiles of this franchise are all unique, beautiful, and cutting edge but that's another blog on another day. When traffic blocks their way, Batman and Vicki get out and run away on foot, locking the Batmobile into it's own security system. Some bullets hit the bat and when the goons try examine the body, one begins to remove the Batman's mask. Vicki attempts to snap a picture of this but her flash catches the goon's attention. This gives Batman time to take them out, then summon the Batmobile, and escape to the Batcave.Once there, Batman reveals that he has found the source of the 'smilex' drug, and gives Vicki the information to take to the press. Vale does so after she wakes up in her apartment without the film from her photoshoot the night before. With this new information Batman is now in full view of the public.

Bruce soon after pays Vicki a visit, and although they having a candid conversation they are soon interrupted by The Joker. Bruce attempts to threaten the madman, to which the Joker asks him a question: "Ever dance with the devil in the pale moon light?" Bruce is offput by this, but has almost no time to react as the Joker shoots him. Vicki watches as he and his men leave, but when she returns to Bruce's body in the next room, she finds it gone, with a silver serving tray with a bullet in it.  We find out Bruce was wearing this under his shirt as protection when the Joker shot him.

After this ordeal, Vicki returns to the newspaper, where Knox reveals the information he found regarding the street where Bruce was. According to the newspaper, this was the area where Bruce's parents were gunned down by an unknown gunman. Vicki soon begins to understand there is more to Bruce than meets the eye.

The Joker interrupts a broadcast to announce that Carl Grissom is dead, and that he is in charge of the crime syndicate in the city. He then announces that a party will be held that night, with $20million in cash given out to the crowd, and promising that Batman will also appear.

Bruce has been watching the entire event unfold, and thinks back to the words that the Joker had said. The night his parents were murdered, the man who gunned them down also used the 'dance with the devil' line, and Bruce is certain that the Joker killed his parents. This shakes him to his core but also gives him some focus. Batman first sends the Batmobile to Axis Chemicals, in hopes of blowing up all of the Joker's activities. While he successfully destroys the facility, the Joker was not in the building at the time.

Cut to a Gotham city street scene with  several giant balloons and floats make their way down the path, with the Joker playing music and giving away free money. Batman appears soon after, flying his Batwing plane. When the Joker sees this, he and his men put on gas masks, and he sneakily lets loose smilex gas that's been in containers on the balloons. The unsuspecting crowd panics and mayhem ensues. The Batwing has some amazing weapons but we watch as Batman employs it's capabilities it to gather the deadly parade balloons.  Once he has let them go, the bat returns in an attempt to take out the Joker. The Joker has other plans, and shoots down the Batwing with one shot of a comically long pistol. The Batwing crashes, and Vicki, rushes to the cockpit, only to find noone there.

It is then that she is accosted by the Joker, and taken up to the top of a nearby cathedral. Batman follows shortly afterward, just as the Gotham Police arrive and lock down the building. However, they are unable to ascend the stairs when the Joker uses an acidic flower to cause one of the cathedral's bells to drop down and destroy the stairway. At the top of the tower, Batman confronts the Joker, and blames him for the death of his parents. But, before Batman can properly get some revenge on the Joker, the clown ends up two-timing both Batman and Vicki, and soon they are both hanging from the roof.

Shortly thereafter, the Joker's helicopter appears, and the Joker attempts to get away. Batman, always quick with the tricks,  uses a grappling hook that gets entangled on the Joker's leg, and then on a stone gargoyle. The weight of the gargoyle ultimately causes the demise of  the Joker as he  falls to his death. Camera pans to the scene of Joker lying in the pavement and a maniacal laugh playing over and over on a broken toy. In the aftermath of the ordeal, The Joker's men are captured, and it appears that Gotham is now safe. Batman has also sent a signal to the Gotham Police, to use if they ever need to call on him.

There are a lot of great scenes in this film but my favorite featuring a gun has to be when Joker pulls out that oversized gun after Batman takes his balloons.  To watch that scene you can go here:

The Joker ( here we have Jack Nicholson) uses a Smith & Wesson Model 15-3 with a custom 21 inch barrel to shoot down the Batwing. We later see that the gun has a telescoping barrel when the Joker collapses it.

                         Smith & Wesson Model 15 'Combat Masterpiece' - .38 Special

                              The Joker aiming his Smith & Wesson Model 15-3 at the Batwing.

Another great scene is simple but effective and it's from Vicki Vale's apartment. To watch this clip go here:

The Joker uses a Smith & Wesson Model 1 when he confronts Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton). A metal plate Bruce hid under his shirt stops the bullet.

                                             Smith & Wesson Model 1 First Issue - .22 Short

 "Tell me something my friend, you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?" The Joker           aims his Smith and Wesson Model 1 at Bruce Wayne.

                           The Joker holds his Smith & Wesson Model 1 after shooting Bruce.

I will always love this Batman, dark but cartoonish much like Tim Burton's other films. This one also recently came out on Netflix and I've watched it at 3 different houses over 7 days. Grab your popcorn and candy and settle in for some fun.

#2 Batman Forever

1995 film starred Val Kilmer as the Caped Crusader who is challenged by Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and the Riddler (Jim Carrey). Joel Schumacher took over the directing reins from Tim Burton (who remained as an executive producer on this film).

Although this film was one of the worst in the franchise it casts a very different light on the many interpretations of Batman as a character of the silver screen. I included this one as a contrast to the other movies we're taking a look at. This one is campy and had terrible, hacky dialogue but it's so bad it's entertaining in it's own way. It's surprising that a film with that amazing of a cast could create such terrible cinema. 

Batman is growing tired of his nightly parade as Batman and daily existence as the rich and powerful Bruce Wayne. He is haunted by memories of his parent's death and begins to remember details that he didn't before. As usual, he will have to defeat his personal demons as well as the super villains trying to destroy his city.

Two Face (formally Harvey Dent) , a psycho killer who blames Batman for his scarred split face, teams up with The Riddler, an ex-employee of Bruce Wayne Enterprises, who was refused a partnership by Wayne, as his invention is very dangerous.  We see Bruce is at a Charity Circus that he is invited to with the other elite of Gotham, and he has his girlfriend with him. The event is crashed when Two Face and his thugs also decide to attend uninvited. A family of acrobats are killed by Two Face, leaving only the youngest son, Dick "Robin" Grayson, alive and thirsting for revenge against Two Face. This film decided to do a very stylistic approach to Batman and his sidekick.

Once Dick has moved in he soon discovers Bruce's carefully hidden alter-ego, and takes the Batmobile on a spin, interrupting a date between Chase and Bruce. When they finally return to the Bat Cave, he begs Bruce to allow him to be his partner. Alfred refuses to spurn Dick's need for revenge, telling Bruce that once he was like that too.

Meanwhile, the entrepreneur calling himself  Edward Nygma, is actually Two Face's new accomplice The Riddler, is growing more and more rich, powerful and famous because of his invention of a new 3-D way of watching T.V. However, he is sucking all the secrets from the citizens of Gotham and growing extremely intelligent. He is gunning for Bruce as well as Batman and discovers that they are they same person. Soon the two villains are up against the newly formed partnership between Batman and Robin. When Chase is kidnapped by the evil pair, Batman and Robin go to The Riddler and Two Face's hideout on a metal-fabricated artificial island, after Alfred and Bruce manage to crack the riddles that The Riddler has been leaving him and they discover that Edward Nygma is the green clad villain.

In the end Batman is faced with the decision to save either Chase or Robin from the jagged rocks in a pit that they are suspended over by The Riddler. Instead, Batman tricks The Riddler and breaks the giant hourglass structure that contains all the stored brainwaves of the citizens of Gotham. He saves both Chase and Robin, and uses Two Face's coin to kill the madman, by throwing a multitude of coins instead of only Two Face's special one. At the end Edward claims that he is Batman, flapping the sleeves of his straight jacket in a grotesque imitation a bat's wings, cackling as Chase makes her way back outside of the lunatic asylum and informs Bruce that no one will ever know he is Batman. She leaves Gotham, never to see our secretive shadow destined hero ever again. Batman and Robin are now partners and the dark knight is indeed always going to the protector of the Gothic metropolis of Gotham.

There are a few scenes with some guns but let's take a look at one where Riddler and Two Face meet, you can watch it here:

A chrome-plated Benelli MP95E is the main handgun used by Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) throughout the film.

                                                             Benelli MP95E - .22LR

"Oh? Let's see if you bleed green..." Two-Face pulls his Benelli MP95 on the Riddler (Jim Carrey).

Olympic Arms OA-93 Pistols are used by the henchmen of Two-Face. The guns are fed from 90 rounder drums with neon detailing

        OA-93 w/ mag removed - 5.56x45mm

Two-Face's henchmen open fire with their OA-93's.

If you're looking for a movie that is really awful but so awful it's entertaining than grab Batman & Robin and this film and just know you'll laugh really hard. It's not supposed to be funny but that's what makes it even better. Or if you just want a quick, best of moment than take a look here:

For more information about the weapons used in this film go to:

#3 The Dark Knight

Directed by Christopher Nolan and released in  2008, this film is the sequel to Batman Begins. Christian Bale returns as Batman, this time having to save Gotham from the grips of a new foe who calls himself the Joker (Heath Ledger, who received a Best Supporting Actor posthumously for his role). The film's cast includes Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine and the sequel would be followed by 2012's The Dark Knight Rises.

The movie opens with a gang of men in clown masks breaking into the bank where the mob has a large portion of their money stashed. It begins with five clowns, each getting a cut of the spoils. They discuss a sixth member of the gang - nicknamed 'The Joker' - who did the planning, but sat out the robbery, doesn't deserve a cut. As the robbery unfolds, the clowns begin to kill each other in order to get a bigger cut, until a school bus crashes through the wall of the bank, killing another clown. A mob bank manager, who was himself shot with an automatic weapon after he tried to take out the clowns with a shotgun, tells the remaining clown that he doesn't know who he is dealing with. The clown kneels down and tells the banker, "Whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you...stranger..." then removes his mask to reveal that he himself is The Joker. Joker puts a grenade into the banker's mouth and boards the bus, leaving a string attached to the pin. The bus pulls out with all of the bank's cash and the pin pops out. It is just a gas grenade. The Joker joins a long line of school buses leaving the scene as the police arrive. This opening bank scene is one of my favorites as it sets the tone for what to expect from The Joker, which is to expect the unexpected.

Meanwhile, in a parking garage, the Scarecrow is negotiating with the Russian mob members over the sale of a strain of his fear-inducing drugs. The sale is interrupted when some of Gotham's citizens dressed as Batman imposters begin shooting at the men. As he gases one of the fake Batmen with his mind-altering drugs, the Scarecrow notes that they are not the real Batman, due to  Batman never using a gun. Suddenly the Batmobile crashes through a barricade and Scarecrow notes, "That's more like it!" The Batmobile fires rockets into a nearby office, causing the remaining mobsters to begin to flee. As always, the Batmobile is a completely bad ass piece of machinery. It's got all the style and power you would expect from a modern day Batman of this caliber.  The real Batman arrives on the scene and the fun begins.
The Chechen sends his rottweilers to attack the Batmen, and as the real Batman saves them he takes the dogs out after being badly bitten in the arm. The Scarecrow attempts to flee but Batman jumps onto the van and begins cutting into the side with his device called the mangler. The mangler is an awesome little weapon. Scarecrow swerves into a support which sends Batman to the ground. As Scarecrow gets away down a spiraling passageway, Batman leaps onto the roof of his van, smashing it to a halt. He leaves the fake Batmen and the Scarecrow along with some of the mobsters tied up together for the police to eventually round up.

The next day, as Bruce Wayne stitches himself up from the dog bite, Alfred offers his concerns, warning Bruce to 'know his limits'. He notices Bruce keeping a close watch on newly appointed district attorney Harvey Dent via some computer screens, as Bruce is trying to decide whether or not Dent can be trusted. Alfred wonders if he is really spying on the relationship that Rachel Dawes has developed with Harvey Dent.

Harvey Dent arrives in court to join Rachel Dawes in prosecuting mobster Salvatore Maroni, the alleged new leader of the Falcone crime family. One of Maroni's men takes the fall in court, and attempts to shoot Dent from the witness stand. The gun doesn't go off and Dent punches the man before he is hauled off to jail. Maroni is eventually set free, to the dismay of Dent.

Dent meets with Lt. Gordon, after a short exchange of words, they both express their distrust for those that are working in each other's offices. Harvey interrogates Gordon over his involvement with the Batman and Harvey tells him he wants to meet him. Gordon requests search warrants for five banks that are believed to be holding the remainder of the mobs money. Dent agrees to back Gordon's search warrants, forming a tenuous partnership with the honest Gordon, who in turn hails Dent as Gotham's "White Knight".

Cut to the scene where we have Harvey and Rachel in a very beautiful restaurant that took Harvey weeks to get a reservation to and we watch as  Bruce and his date, the prima ballerina for the Russian ballet, encounter Rachel and Harvey. Bruce has them pull a table together so they can dine together, informing Harvey that he owns the restaurant. At first, Bruce seems jealous and threatened by Harvey, based on the fact that he is dating his own love interest, but Harvey explains how he supports the work of Batman and appreciates his help. Bruce decides to help him and informs  Harvey that he intends to throw a massive fund-raiser for him.

In the mean time, all of the top mob members are having a meeting. Because of their inside sources in the police, they were aware that the banks that their money was stashed in were going to be searched. Lau appears to them on a television monitor from his plane on his way back to Hong Kong. He informs the mob that all of their money has already been moved to a single secure location, just as Lt. Gordon and company are searching the banks, finding nothing but the irradiated trace money. At this point, The Joker enters in the room, and after killing a hostile mob member's crony by way of a 'magic trick', sits down and talks with the mob about how pathetic they've become since Batman came around. He tells them their only solution is to 'Kill the Batman', and offers to do so for half the mob's money. He warns them about Lau,causing Lau to promptly turn off his monitor. The mob laughs, and as one of the mobsters, Gambol, rises from his seat and threatens the Joker, the Joker opens his coat, exposing an array of grenades. Gambol tells the Joker that he's putting a price out on his head. The Joker tells the mob that when they plan to take things a little more seriously, give him a call, and presents them with 'his card', a joker playing card. As he exits, he warns them  that Batman will come for Lau.

Harvey Dent, with Gordon, engage the batsignal to meet with Batman, who immediately appears. As Dent and Gordon blame one another for the money's disappearance due to  corrupt officers in the other's departments, they explain to Batman that they need Lau back, realizing that Batman is under no one's jurisdiction. They want to make him talk, and give up all the mob members' names. Batman agrees and promptly disappears.

Fox shows Wayne his new suit, and Wayne begins planning an impromptu trip to Hong Kong. As Wayne had business with Lau earlier in the film this makes it easy for Wayne to perform duel duties as the Batman and as the businessman. Fox will accompany him, making it look like the only reason for his visit was to cancel the negotiations with Lau's company.

We now come to a great scene with our tricky Jokesters as we are shown what he is capable of. Gambol is playing pool with a few of his associates until one of them informs him that a group of hoodlums have killed the Joker, and have his body. The body is brought in in a bag, and just as Gambol is about to pay, the Joker rises up and holds a knife to his face while his men hold guns to his associates' heads. The Joker tells a conflicting story about how he got his scars from his father, and proceeds to kill Gambol. He offers the three surviving associates an opportunity to join his team, but he has only one opening. He leave the three with the halves of a broken, sharp pool stick and gives no options but to fight each other for their lives.

Meanwhile, Fox arrives in Hong Kong to meet with Lau. Fox meets with Lau, and informs him of Wayne Enterprises' plans to cancel negotiations with his company. However, he is secretly keeping a cell phone in his pocket, which has been adapted to produce a sonar map of the surrounding area. Upon leaving the building, he does not pick up a an additional phone he dropped off, and he produces the map of the building to Bruce Wayne. That night, the phone that Fox left at the front desk emits a high frequency that shuts down all power in the building. Batman crashes in through a window in Lau's office, and after disabling some guards, grabs Lau and escapes by sending a balloon attached to a cable to a plane he has chartered flying over Lau's building.

Back in Gotham, Lau is interrogated by Rachel, Dent, and Gordon. Rachel presses him to give them the money Lau has taken, but Lau resists. After she threatens to have him moved to the County lock-up, Lau tells her that he can give them the information they want. Dent then realizes that they will have the leverage they need in a RICO case of conspiracy to link all of the mob members together. Gordon decides to keep Lau in his holding cell and Lau agrees to cooperate with the police, and give the names of the mob members.

Gordon appears at Maroni's restaurant as the police rush in to arrest all of the mob members in attendance. As all of the mob members that Lau informed the police are rounded up for arraignment, Judge Janet Surrillo finds a Joker card in the middle of the stack of conviction papers. Dent gives a televised impromptu interview denying Batman's involvement while expressing gratitude for the police work in bringing the mob members to justice.

The plot continues to thicken and get even darker and more intense. Dent, Gordon, and Commissioner Loeb meet with the mayor to tell him that Dent's rash indictment of the mob members will give the mayor clean streets for 18 months. When the mayor asks if Dent is ready to be the city's target the dead body of a Batman wanna-be hanging by a noose slams against the mayor's window dressed up in a Batman suit, with makeup on his face like the Joker's - complete with the sides of the mouth sliced into a grin - with a Joker card pinned to him that states 'Will the real Batman please stand up?'. Bruce and Alfred watch on as a video tape is played on the news of the Joker tormenting the wanna-be before killing him. He then promises that until Batman takes off his mask and shows everyone who he really is, people will die every day.

As Harvey Dent's fund-raiser at Wayne's penthouse gets underway, Rachel and Dent arrive and mingle. Wayne arrives with three models via helicopter and seeks out Harvey, whom he throws his full support behind claiming, "I believe in Harvey Dent." Minutes later, Rachel meets with Bruce on the balcony upset that Bruce is making fun at Dent but Bruce tells her that he truly believes in Harvey and that he could be the White Knight that will allow him to hang up his mantle as Batman so they can be together. Dent joins them to thank Bruce and retrieve Rachel.

While that is going on,  Gordon discovers that there are 3 traces of DNA on the Joker card, from Commissioner Loeb, Harvey Dent, and Judge Surrillo, the Judge that is trying all of the mob members and found the card among the paperwork. Gordon takes this as a threat on their lives, and begins preparations to keep them safe. However this doesn't end in Gordon's favor. The Judge's car blows up when the police arrive to take her into protective custody and Commissioner Loeb dies of severe poisoning from his liquor bottle before Gordon can stop him from drinking.

Dent takes Rachel aside to ask her to marry him, but she is torn and doesn't give him an answer. Bruce subdues Dent and locks him in a closet while Rachel watches in shock. Bruce tells Rachel that they (the Joker and his goons) have come for Harvey and to stay hidden from sight.

The Joker and his goons burst in telling the guests that they are tonight's 'entertainment." The Joker is seeking out Harvey Dent when Rachel steps forward. He grabs her and pulls a knife on her telling her a different version of the story about how he got his scars. Batman conveniently shows up  and a fight breaks out between Batman, the Joker, and his goons. When Batman gains the upper hand he sees the Joker holding a gun at Rachel's head as he dangles her out of a shot out window. Batman demands he let her go, to which the Joker replies "Very poor choice of words" and lets her fall. Batman dives out the window and saves her using his cape to slow their fall as they crash into the roof of a car on the street.

The next day,  Alfred relates a story to Bruce of when he was in Burma with friends attempting to nullify the local criminals by bribing them with jewels. One thief however, tossed these bribes away and continued to raid the local convoys. When Bruce seems confused over this behavior Alfred informs him that some men can't be reasoned with, they don't want anything in particular, that they kill for sport. Alfred observes and relays the famous phrase that some men just want to watch the world burn.

Batman is seen on the edge of a rooftop listening in to cell phone frequencies when he overhears a plot against Harvey Dent. Gordon rushes to the apartment with Ramirez and Batman to find two policemen murdered, with the last names "Harvey" and "Dent." Ramirez begins to blame Batman, but Gordon cuts her off. As Batman removes a piece of concrete wall that contains a bullet used in the murders in hopes of finding evidence, Gordon notes that the Joker has left an advance copy of tomorrow's newspaper indicating the death of the mayor.

Fox helps Wayne reconstruct the bullet taken from the murder scene and produces a fingerprint. Fox asks him if he has reassigned the R&D department. Bruce acknowledges that he has, claiming he is playing this one "close to the chest." Wayne traces the bullet fingerprint's owner to an apartment overlooking the funeral speeches for Commissioner Loeb and takes off on motorcycle.

As the ceremony continues on the street below, Wayne inspects a room where he believes the Joker may be, and finds several men tied up. They tell Wayne that their guns and uniforms were stolen. Wayne inspects binoculars pointed out of a blinded window. The window blind is connected to a timer. As the timer reaches zero, the blinds quickly raise, and the police snipers positioned around the area all shoot in that direction. At the same time, the Joker, who had removed his makeup and played himself off as a member of the guard for the ceremony, takes a shot at the mayor, but Lt. Gordon dives in the way, getting shot in the back and falling. Everyone panics and runs, but the police shoot one member of the honor guard in the leg and haul him into a truck. Dent himself climbs in the truck, and upon inspecting the criminal, sees that the name-tag on his uniform reads 'Officer Rachel Dawes'. He calls Rachel and informs her that she's been targeted, and to get to the safest place she can, which in her case is Bruce's penthouse. He tells her he loves her, but there is no answer from Rachel.
Gordon's family is visited at home, to inform them of the death of Gordon at the funeral ceremony. Gordon's wife, Barbara, shouts out at the empty sky to Batman that he has brought this craziness upon Gotham. Gordon's young son catches a brief glimpse of Batman mournfully watching the scene.

Meanwhile, Batman enters a club and grabs Maroni after beating on his men. He interrogates Maroni on the Joker's whereabouts, who claims that he should have held him from a higher location. Batman drops him off the ledge, injuring his legs and learns that Maroni has no idea where the Joker is. Maroni explains that the Joker has no friends and no one will give him up because unlike Batman, he plays by no rules.

As Dent is interrogating the captured member of Joker's "gang" about what he knows about the Joker, he is enraged and holds a gun to his head. He flips his father's lucky silver dollar for his life, coming up on heads. As he flips the coin again, Batman shows up and snatches the coin in midair, asking if Dent would really leave a life up to chance, to which Dent answers, "Not exactly." He informs Harvey that this criminal - Thomas Schiff - is a paranoid schizophrenic patient from Arkham Asylum and that he won't learn anything from him. He also tells Harvey that if anyone saw this unjust way of interrogating someone, all that good work that Dent's done for Gotham would be lost. He tells Harvey to hold a press conference the following day, because he wants to use that opportunity to turn himself in. As Batman leaves, Harvey yells at him that he can't give in.

Bruce arrives back in his penthouse to find Rachel waiting. She tells him that turning himself in will not stop the Joker's murderous rampage, but Bruce says he has enough blood on his hands already. He reminds her that she promised him that they would be together if and when he hung up the mantle of Batman. She tells Bruce not to make her his only hope for a normal life and they share a kiss. She tells Bruce that if he turns himself in as Batman that the city will never let them be together.

 At Wayne's secret base of operations for Batman, he and Alfred begin destroying everything that might tie Lucius Fox or Rachel to Batman. Alfred tries to talk Bruce out of it, asking him to endure these trying times and allow Batman to make the right choice that nobody else can for the good of the city. Bruce explains that Batman cannot endure the responsibility for innocents dying, especially where Rachel is concerned.

At the press conference, Harvey attempts to reason with the assembled press and police to not give in to the fear that the Joker has unleashed upon the city. He agrees that Batman is a vigilante but that the people of Gotham should hold him accountable, and not give in to the whims of this terrorist known as the Joker. However, the people are overcome with fear, crying out "No more dead cops," to applause indicating that Harvey will not be able to sway them. Upon his failure, Harvey announces that HE is the Batman, and gets handcuffed and taken away. Bruce Wayne is shown with a look of confusion on his face.

Rachel had been watching the news conference at Bruce Wayne's penthouse, and confronts Alfred over Bruce's cowardice in allowing Harvey to take the fall when he claims to be Batman. Alfred explains to Rachel that Batman is instead allowing himself to be something else besides a hero, mainly a figure outside of the system that the people can both turn to or blame in times of need. Rachel gives Alfred a letter for Bruce and tells him to give it to Bruce when the time is right. When Alfred asks what it is, she tells him it is open and hugs him before departing to see Harvey as he is being transported to the County lock-up.

While being taken to a convoy that will transport him to a county, Harvey explains to Rachel that this is Batman's chance. He then pulls out the coin and says "Heads: I go through with this," and flips it, landing on heads. When Rachel tells him that he can't leave something like that to chance, he tosses her the coin, revealing that it is a two-headed coin. During this transport, he's planning on getting attacked by the Joker, and he's planning on Batman coming to save him, and to capture the Joker. The convoy takes off.

While transporting Harvey, the Joker and some goons start taking out the police cars in a large semi truck. The Tumbler arrives and attempts to stop the Joker, and gets hit with an RPG in the process. His car takes 'catastrophic' damage, and he's forced to eject. However, the ejection in this car is a bike, that deploys out the front of the car. This bike becomes known as the 'Batpod'. I have to say this is one of my favorite scenes in regard to a Batmobile, the Batpod is a great piece of machinery and weapon combined. Batman chases down the Joker on his Batpod, and after firing some cables at the truck and weaving them through some light poles and buildings, flips the truck completely over. The Joker emerges with a Smith & Wesson M76 Submachine gun and shoots at Batman, who speeds towards him on his Batpod, all the while screaming at Batman to hit him. Batman honors his own non-lethal code and swerves around the Joker then crashes into the flipped truck, falling to the ground. As the Joker jumps on him with a knife, one of the SWAT officers holds a gun to the back of his head, and upon removing his helmet and mask, shows that it was Lt. Gordon, who faked his death to protect his family. The Joker is hauled away.

At Gordon's Major Crimes Unit building, Gordon is promoted to Commissioner by the Mayor. The Joker shares a cell with a large man who complains about his insides hurting. Commissioner Gordon, gets a call explaining that Harvey never made it home. He returns to the prison to interrogate the Joker. During the interrogation, Batman appears and starts beating on the Joker, trying to find out Harvey's whereabouts. The Joker sadistically reveals that not just Harvey, but Rachel are in separate locations, both tied up and strapped to explosives that will explode in a short amount of time. He gives the locations of the two, saying that he only has time to save one of them and that he must make a choice that will violate Batman's "code" of non-lethal means...that one of them will die since Batman cannot save them both. Batman heads off, telling Gordon that he's going after Rachel. Gordon gets some men ready and heads off after Harvey.

As Batman and the police are rushing towards the two prisoners, Harvey awakens to hear Rachel's voice. Their captures had  them set up on an intercom system so that the two can communicate. Harvey tells Rachel that everything will be OK, and Rachel tells Harvey that she wants to marry him. While Dent's trying to hop around in his chair trying to find something sharp to cut his ropes with, he falls over and knocks an oil drum down, and the gasoline spills all over half of his face. Meanwhile, back at the jail, the Joker tricks a cop and holds him hostage saying he just wants his phone call. Upon getting a cell phone and dialing a number, the large man that was in the cell with him blows up. The Joker had cut him open and implanted a cell phone-triggered device inside of him. The Joker grabs Lau and flees the jail.

Batman arrives at the address that the Joker had told him Rachel was at, but when he opens the door, he finds Harvey Dent instead, who screams in despair at having been found instead of Rachel. Gordon arrives at the supposed location for Dent but the warehouse explodes and Rachel is killed. As Batman saves Dent by carrying him out of the warehouse, the explosion ignites the gas that saturated Dent's face, horribly burning it. Dent is taken to Gotham General Hospital. Batman visits Dent in the hospital, and leaves him the two-headed coin that they found at Rachel's site of death.

Bruce expresses to Alfred his devastation behind losing Rachel and that he feels responsible for inspiring madness and death. he tells Alfred that she was going to wait for him. Alfred chooses not to give him her letter that Rachel had written. Her letter had said she had chosen Harvey over Bruce.  Harvey wakes up in the hospital with a large bandage over half of his face, finds his now scarred two-headed coin, and screams out in anguish over losing the one person he loved.

Commissioner Gordon visits Dent and tries to tell him how sorry he is for what has transpired, questioning why Dent refused skin grafts and how he can stand to be in unrelenting agony over his disfigurement. Harvey is filled with rage for Gordon not listening to him when he warned Gordon not to trust the corrupt officers that Dent investigated during his time in Internal Affairs which has resulted in Dent's disfigurement and ultimately Rachel's death. Dent demands Gordon tell him the nickname they had for him when he was in I.A., to which Gordon ashamedly replies "Harvey Two-Face," while being forced to stare at the extensive burns and scarred tissue that have enveloped half of Harvey's face. As Gordon leaves an emotionally devastated Harvey, he runs into Maroni in the hallway who tells him that if Gordon wants the clown, he knows where he will be.

Wayne's accountant Reese appears on a news show claiming to be able to tell the world who Batman is.  However before this can be revealed the Joker calls in to the show saying that he doesn't want this lawyer to ruin his fun. He says that if the lawyer is not killed within 60 minutes, he is going to blow up a hospital. This triggers the police to rush in and protect the lawyer, and try to carry him to safety. At the same time, other police are evacuating all of the hospitals in Gotham City. When they get to Gotham General, a police officer attempts to evacuate a nurse in Harvey Dent's room, which then turns out to be the Joker, and he kills that cop. He then explains to Two-Face how he needs to introduce a little anarchy and chaos, how easy it is to bring down all the good people in the world and how it's all fair. Joker unties Two-Face and hands him a pistol. Two-Face, bent on revenge and now believing everything in the world should be decided by chance, flips the double-headed coin to decide whether or not to shoot Joker which Joker agrees is only fair. It's implied  the coin lands on the clean side since the next scene shows Joker leaving Gotham General Hospital as it blows up in the background.

Afterwards, the Joker appears on TV again, forcing kidnapped GCN reporter Mike Engle to read his plans out loud. He reads that Gotham City now belongs to the Joker, starting that very evening. Anyone that doesn't want to be a part of his game should leave now, but they are going to have a hard time leaving the city by the bridges. He alludes to the fact that something big was going to happen that very night.  At the same time, Batman uses Fox's 'cell phone sonar' technology to somehow turn every single cell phone in Gotham into a sonar device, giving him the opportunity to spy on everyone in Gotham. He calls Fox in, and tells him to monitor the screens, and give him updates on the Joker's location when he sees him. Fox is appalled that Batman would use this technology to spy on the citizens of Gotham and reluctantly agrees to help, stating that the machine must be destroyed after the Joker is captured or he will have to retire.

Two-Face continues to question mob members, trying to uncover the identity of the dirty cop that kidnapped Rachel. When confronting Maroni in Maroni's car, he learns that the other cop is Ramirez. He then flips the coin for Maroni, which lands on the clean side. "Lucky Man," he remarks before he flips it again. It lands on the dirty side and he buckles up and states, "But he's not" as he shoots Maroni's driver, causing the car to veer off the road and crash into the dockyards. Meanwhile, two large ferries leave Gotham due to the Joker's threats. One is inhabited by criminals that Harvey and Gordon helped put away, the other is packed with innocent citizens - the city's bridges being wired with explosives. Both ships eventually realize that there are explosives strewn all about the boat, and they both find detonators. It is at this time that the Joker's voice is heard over the loudspeaker of both ferries, and he informs them that they are part of a social experiment. The detonator on each boat is for the other boat. One ferry must press the button and destroy the other boat by midnight, or else the Joker will destroy both boats. This brings about much chaos in both boats, and a lot of soul searching about morality and society.

Fox locates the Joker, who is holed up in a building still under construction with many clown guards. Batman notifies Gordon of the location, and speeds off towards the building. Meanwhile, Two-Face forces a frightened Ramirez to call Gordon's family and tell his wife and children to meet her at the exact spot where Rachel was killed. They believe her because they trust her. Afterwards, Two-Face, angered with Ramirez's pleas to spare her life for the sake of her sick mother, flips for Ramirez's life. The coin lands on heads, so he just knocks her out, telling her that she "lives to fight another day." As Gordon arrives at the building where the Joker is, he gets a call from his family telling him they are being held captive by Two-Face in the place where Rachel was killed. Gordon rushes off to save his family as Batman breaks in to the building. After realizing that the clown guards are the actual hostages and the doctors/hostages are the Joker's goons, he beats down some SWAT members in order to prevent them from killing the clown guards, and he disables the goons as he makes his way up to the Joker's location. When he finally confronts the Joker, the Joker sends the Chechen's rottweilers after him, and while Batman fights them off, the Joker beats him brutally  and eventually throws him close to the edge of the building, trapping him under a metal beam.

At the same time, the two boats are still debating what to do with the detonators. On the 'criminal ferry',a convict makes a speech about the warden holding the trigger not knowing how to take life, then goes up to the warden and asks to take the trigger so he himself can do what the warden should have done ten minutes ago. The warden hands the convict the trigger and the convict promptly throws it out of the ferry, making it impossible for anyone on the convict ferry to blow up the 'innocent' ferry. On the innocent ferry, after having voted to use their detonator, the officials can't bring themselves to act out the decision. A man stands up, takes the detonator but simply cannot come to terms with pressing unable the button.

The Joker, on top of Batman while holding him down, shows signs of disappointment when neither of the ferries' passengers will stoop to his level. As he's about to destroy the two boats, Batman fires his gauntlet darts at him, knocking the detonator out of his hands, and throws him over the edge of the building. Before he can hit the ground, however, Batman fires one of his grappling gun tools at him and saves him. While hanging in front of Batman, the Joker tells him that the two of them are destined to fight forever, and how Batman really IS incorruptible. The Joker reveals to him, however, that his real plan was to engineer the fall of Gotham's White Knight, Harvey Dent, since that would introduce much more chaos when a good man like Dent is shown descending into chaos and evil.

We watch as Gordon arrives to see Two-Face holding his family hostage. Two-Face knocks him to the ground and tells him that he's going to make him suffer just as he did, as he grabs his young son Jimmy and prepares to flip the coin for his fate. Batman arrives and tells him to stop, and to blame the people responsible for Rachel's death. So then Two-Face flips the coin for Batman, which lands on the dirty, scarred side, and Two-Face shoots him. He then flips the coin for himself and it lands on the clean side. Batman gets up and tackles him and they fall off of the building together.  Batman hands Jimmy up to Gordon as Batman himself falls to the ground next to Two-Face, who lies motionless.

As Gordon climbs down to check on Batman, Batman laments that, in the end, the Joker won. By corrupting Harvey Dent and turning him evil, he tore down the best of them. If Gotham were to find out about Dent's murders, then the symbol of hope and faith he had given Gotham would diminish and all the prisoners he helped put back in jail would be let out, thus creating chaos. Batman explains that Gotham can never find out about the murders, and takes the blame of them on himself, so that the Joker wouldn't win and the city's peace would remain.

We see a montage of Commissioner Gordon and other members of the Gotham City Police Department gathered at a memorial to Harvey Dent. It is unclear whether he was killed or not. Gordon then smashes the Bat Signal above the MCU Building, while Alfred burns Rachel's note and Lucius shuts down the sonar machine with a pleased look. Batman, in the background, continues to explain that by taking the blame of the killings, the faith that the people of Gotham had in Harvey Dent can be rewarded, and they can feel justified.

Batman then runs from Gordon as the cops begin to chase him, and Gordon tells his son that while Harvey Dent was the hero Gotham needed, Batman is the hero that Gotham deserved. The bat-signal is destroyed and a manhunt is issued for Batman. Batman gets on his Batpod and speeds off into the proverbial sunset.

There are several amazing scenes in this film but let's look a couple key scenes.

Let's take a look at the opening bank robbery scene here:

"Grumpy", one of The Joker's henchmen in the bank heist, uses a Glock 17 to kill "Happy" in the vault. He also uses it to hold up The Joker, suspecting he will kill him as well, only for Joker to tell him he is going to kill the bus driver. Several other Glocks are seen in the hands of Lau's henchmen and Gotham City police throughout the film.

                                                            Glock 17 3rd Generation - 9x19mm


                                                    "Grumpy" leads the robbery with his Glock 17 drawn

                                                    The Glock appears in several places in the movie.


A GCPD officer with his Glock drawn apprehends Thomas Schiff, one of the Joker's men posing as part of the honor guard.

                                One of the Joker's men disguised as a doctor wields a Glock 17

The Joker (Heath Ledger) uses a Glock 17 that has been converted to full-auto, as the gun lacks the Glock 18's firing selector switch on the side of the slide. His Glock is fitted with a stainless slide and a G18's standard 33 round magazine. He is seen using it as his main weapon several times in the film. For someone as bizarre as The Joker, the gun fits him well as it is very rare, destructive, stylish although in some ways impractical. The extremely high cyclic rate makes it difficult to control, although in the hands of an experienced shooter, it is all the more deadly. The armorer referred to the gun as a Glock 18, but this is less of a mouthful then "Glock 17 converted to full-auto to resemble a Glock 18". Not to mention, he likely assumed no one would know the difference anyway. The armorer also mentioned how three Glocks were used, including two converted Glock 17s and one flashpaper model for close shooting scenes where blanks are harmful.

Two-tone 3rd Generation Glock 17 converted to full-auto - 9x19mm. This is the screen-used firearm held by Heath Ledger in the film.

                                        The Joker shoots the bus driver with his Glock.

Another great scene with Ledger's joker is the one with the newly disfigured Harvey Dent, you can watch it here:

Inside Harvey Dent's hospital room, the Joker shoots a police officer while crudely disguised as a nurse. Note how the gun is a flashpaper gun due to close proximity for safety concerns.

Also, just very briefly I'd like to look at the Batpod with this scene here:

The Batpod is an autonomous vehicle salvaged from the Tumbler. It is equipped with mini-cannons, machine guns and even two grappling hooks, notably used to bring down (or, actually up) The Joker's semi. The mini-cannons are used to clear automobiles immediately after the Batpod breaks off the Tumbler and to remove minor obstacles such as the alley garbage container. The grappling hook guns are first fired at the engine compartment of the semi and then trailing cables are secured around two street posts and then shot again to become anchored to the street.

                                                      A closer front view of the Batpod.

                                   Close up of the batpod as Batman races to help Harvey Dent.

The Christopher Nolan trilogy is by far the most popular Batman we've experienced over the years and I love it just as much as anyone else. Grab yourself some good friends and some good food and settle in for a movie marathon this weekend.

For more information on the weapons used in this film go to :

#4 The Dark Knight Rises.

 Third and final installment in director Christopher Nolan's trilogy of Batman films. The 2012 sequel finds Bruce Wayne contemplating a return to his role as Batman when a mercenary leader named Bane threatens the citizens of Gotham City.

Eight years after Harvey Dent's death, the Dent Act grants the Gotham City Police Department powers which nearly eradicate organized crime. Feeling guilty for covering up Dent's crimes, Police Commissioner James Gordon writes a resignation speech confessing the truth but decides against it. Batman has disappeared, and Bruce Wayne has become a recluse. Cat burglar Selina Kyle obtains Bruce's fingerprints from his home, kidnaps a congressman, then disappears. Selina hands Bruce's fingerprints to Phillip Stryver, an assistant to Bruce's business rival John Daggett, in hope of having her criminal record erased. Stryver double-crosses Selina, but she uses the congressman's stolen phone to alert the police to their location. Gordon and the police arrive to find the congressman, and then pursue Stryver's men into the sewers while Selina flees. A masked militant named Bane captures Gordon. Gordon manages to escape and is found by John Blake. Gordon promotes Blake to detective, with Blake reporting directly to him.

Wayne Enterprises is unprofitable after Bruce discontinued his fusion reactor project when he learned that the core could be weaponized. Later, Bane attacks the Gotham Stock Exchange, using Bruce's fingerprints in a transaction that bankrupts Bruce. Alfred Pennyworth, concerned that Bruce has not moved on from being Batman, reveals to him that Rachel Dawes had intended to marry Dent before she died. Alfred then resigns in an attempt to dissuade Bruce. Fearing that Daggett, Bane's employer, would gain access to the reactor, Bruce asks Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate  to take over his company. After being promised the software to erase her criminal record, Selina agrees to take Batman to Bane but instead leads him into Bane's trap. Bane reveals that he intends to fulfill Ra's al Ghul's mission to destroy Gotham with the League of Shadows remnant. He engages Batman and delivers a crippling blow to his back, before taking him to a foreign, prison where escape is virtually impossible. The inmates tell Bruce the story of Ra's al Ghul's child, born in the prison and cared for by a fellow prisoner before escaping—the only prisoner to have ever done so. Bruce assumes the child to be Bane.

Meanwhile, Bane lures Gotham police underground and collapses the exits with them in it. He kills Mayor Anthony Garcia and forces an abducted physicist, Dr. Leonid Pavel, to convert the reactor core into a nuclear bomb. Bane uses the bomb to hold the city hostage and isolate Gotham from the world. Using Gordon's stolen speech, Bane reveals the cover-up of Dent's crimes and releases the prisoners of Blackgate Penitentiary, initiating a revolution. The wealthy and powerful have their property expropriated, are dragged from their homes, and are given show trials presided over by Dr. Jonathan Crane (Scarecrow) ,where any sentence means likely death.

After months of recovery from his injury and re-training, Bruce escapes from the prison and enlists Selina, Blake, Tate, Gordon, and Lucius Fox to help stop the bomb's detonation. While the police and Bane's forces clash, Batman defeats Bane, but Tate intervenes and stabs Batman, revealing herself to be Talia al Ghul, Ra's al Ghul's daughter. Talia escaped the prison aided by her fellow prisoner and protector, Bane. She plans to complete her father's work by detonating the bomb and destroying Gotham, but Gordon blocks her signal, preventing remote detonation. Talia leaves to find the bomb while Bane prepares to kill Batman, but Selina shoots Bane with the cannons on the Batpod. Batman pursues Talia with the Bat, an aircraft developed by Fox, hoping to bring the bomb back to the reactor where it can be stabilized. Talia's truck crashes, but she remotely destroys the reactor before dying. With no way to stop the detonation, Batman uses the Bat to haul the bomb over the bay, where it detonates.

In the aftermath, Batman is presumed dead and is honored as a hero. With Bruce also presumed dead, Wayne Manor is left to the city to become an orphanage, and Wayne's remaining estate is left to Alfred. Fox discovers that Bruce had fixed the Bat's autopilot six months prior, and Gordon finds the Bat-Signal refurbished. While visiting Florence, Alfred witnesses Bruce and Selina together. Blake resigns from the police force and inherits the Batcave.

This installment of  the trilogy has amazing performances by the whole cast but I have a soft spot for the portrayal of Bane in the film. This movie explores a world beyond the most well known Batman characters and gets into the reaches of the comic book stories. Let's take a look at some scenes featuring some guns, shall we?

I've always enjoyed the scene where Selina has herself a shoot out, to take a look at it view here:

The ČZ 75 is used by Stryver (Burn Gorman), the right hand man of Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn). Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) later seizes the pistol, ejects the magazine and then reinserts it during the bar shootout. She later pulls the pistol during a confrontation with Daggett.

                                                                       ČZ 75 - 9x19mm

                                        A production still of Selina Kyle using the ČZ 75.

                        We see Selina use this weapon as Catwoman in a fight later as well, which you can watch here:

Selina Kyle holding the CZ pistol as she disarms an assailant of his suppressed Glock during the roof fight.

Also used throughout the film is Heckler & Koch G36Cs. These are the main weapons used by the mercenaries employed by Bane. Deputy Commissioner Foley also fires a G36C while engaging Bane's men. Throughout the film, it generally appears that the G36C is used by Bane's core mercenary force, while the various militia recruited from Gotham's street gangs, prisons, and other criminal elements tend to use AK-pattern rifles.

                                             Heckler & Koch G36C - 5.56x45mm NATO

                     Mercenaries hold G36Cs as Bane speaks to Doctor Pavel on the football field.

You can watch that scene here:

All these films in the franchise have something different to offer for your entertainment. To find out more about the weapons used in this film go to

To get an even more in depth look at the weapons of Batman, take a look at this Time article:

Which of these are your favorites??? Which of Batman's weapons do you wish you had???

Shawn in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan.

For more info on these and other weapons
Technical specs compiled from:

"The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Tactical Blog from Cactus Tactical

3 Iconic Vietnam Era War Films

Gun Fights & Cinema

3 Iconic War Films (Vietnam Era)

#1: The Deer Hunter

1978 Vietnam War film co-written and directed by Michael Cimino.

In the Western Pennsylvania foundry town of Clairton, during the late 1960s, Russian-American steel workers Michael, Steven, Nick, Stanley, John, and Axel are preparing for two very different rites of passage: marriage and military service.

They're basically like schoolmates, hanging out in a local bar and enjoying weekends of deer hunting. However, their placid life will be forever changed after they are enlisted in the airborne infantry of Vietnam. But, before they go, Steven marries the pregnant Angela and their wedding party caters to the aspect of it being a farewell party as well. At the wedding reception, the friends quickly become drunk, dancing and acting obnoxiously.

The morning after, with the car still decorated from the wedding, the men drive into the mountains to go deer hunting. Mike always took his hunting very seriously and gives Stan a cold shoulder when Stan can't find his hunting boots. He asks Mike for his extra pair and Mike refuses, having grown tired of Stan's casual attitude and forgetfulness on previous trips. Though they don't necessarily agree with Mike's hard attitude, Mike stands by his principles. The next morning, Mike and Nick go out into the woods and Michael stalks and shoots a deer, bringing it down in a single shot.
The troupe returns to Clairton and they go straight to John's bar. John plays a somber piece on the piano and the men sit quietly, contemplating their last night together as a group.

The scene cuts to a mountainous region of Vietnam where a small village is being firebombed by the US Army. Michael is there, lying unconscious among the dead. A North Vietnamese Army soldier walks into the village, here he finds a small group of survivors of  men, women and children, hiding in a bunker. He casually arms a grenade, tosses it in and walks off as it explodes. Moments later he sees a woman, badly injured, carrying a baby. The soldier mercilessly shoots her. Mike springs up and kills the soldier with a flamethrower. As Mike walks around shooting any surviving enemy soldiers, another unit of helicopters arrive and among them are Nick and Steve. Mike doesn't seem to acknowledge them at first when incoming mortar shells from the NVA begin to hit the village.

The three are captured and are made prisoners in a riverside prisoner-of-war camp along with other US Army and ARVN prisoners. As a form of  entertainment, the guards force their prisoners to play Russian roulette and gamble on the outcome. The three have no choice but to play; Steven aims the gun above his head, grazing himself with the bullet and is punished by incarceration to an underwater cage. Mike, convincing the guards to let him go head-to-head with Nick in the final round, devises a plan to escape that requires three bullets in the pistol and shares his plan with Nick. Mike tells him to go after the closest guy when Mike makes his move. Nick, sensing the increased likelihood of imminent demise finds the plan crazy and despite protests, realizes it's their best chance of survival, however slim. Mike pleads with Nick to trust him. As they are in the final game, Mike successfully convinces their captors use three bullets in the cylinder while Nick stalls after being chosen to go first. Mike then volunteers to go first and fires and clicks an empty chamber. With only two empty of five remaining chambers, an almost-broken Nick has his turn and it's an empty chamber. Mike, enraged by continuous taunting, raises his gun to his head and at the last minute pushes the rifles pointed at him aside while turning the gun on his captors. With three bullets in the four chambers left, Mike is able to shoot down three captors in rapid succession before grabbing a machine gun and killing the rest. Mike has to pull a deranged Nick from his continued pummeling of his captor and both escape, taking Steven with them.

The three are able to escape the camp by way of floating downriver on a tree. An American helicopter rescues them, but only Nick is able to board it. The Steven falls into the river as he can't hold on anymore. Mike jumps in after him, and helping him to he riverbank. Steven has broken his legs in the fall. Mike then carries him to friendly lines.

The psychologically devastated Nick recuperates in a military hospital in Saigon, where the psychologist concludes he is not fit to remain there due to his continuous incomprehensible babbling. After he's released, he tries to call Linda in Clairton but hangs up before the call is connected. He aimlessly searches for Mike in the red light district.

Nick encounters Julién Grinda, a champagne-drinking Frenchman outside a gambling den where men play Russian roulette for money. Grinda entices Nick to participate, then leads him in to the den. Unbeknownst to Nick, Mike is in the crowd, as a gambler. Though Mike sees Nick, Nick leaves in a hurry and in a daze and they do not reunite.

As our story continues, Mike finds out that Steve is alive and has returned, and visits Angela, Steve's wife, to find out where he is. She is consumed by madness and not talking to anyone, so writes down a number for him. It is the number for Steven's hospital, which is a veteran's rehabilitation clinic.

Michael reunites with Steven, who has lost both his legs and the use of an arm and is mentally unstable. Steven reveals that someone in Saigon has been mailing large amounts of cash to him, which Mike suspects is from Nick, who may still be alive.

Mike travels to Saigon just before its fall in 1975. With the help of the Grinda, he finds Nick in a crowded roulette club, but Nick appears to have no recollection of his friends or his home in Pennsylvania, appearing instead to be in a constant state of shock. In a game of Russian roulette in the gambler's bar, Mike and Nick are pitted against each other, in an attempt on Mike' part to have Nick remember his life before the war and his family and friends. Mike's attempts to persuade him to come home are unsuccessful, Nick defiantly raises the gun and shoots himself in the head.
The film ends with Nick's funeral back in America and his friends' response to it. Everyone's there, and even Angela and Steven seem to be on the mend. At the wake they all sing "God bless America", and toast Nick.

 This film rife with the issues of PTSD, loss of limbs and other horrors those veterans of the Vietnam War faced when they came home. This film hit home with a lot of those who had fought in Vietnam and come back after these types of conditions and other similar tortures for POW's and other various atrocities of war. While this film isn't one that is meant to be light hearted it definitely offers a look into the very real issues soldiers face when in wartime. The Deer Hunter is a gritty film with raw emotion and I suggest watching it on a day when you can reflect on the events depicted. Great cinema will enact an emotion and this movie gets me everytime. Let's take a look at the primary gun scenes in this film.

Remington 700 BDL rifles are used by the members of the hunting party. Michael (Robert De Niro) notably carries a left-handed model. Interestingly, De Niro shoots right-handed when using a handgun (particularly in the famous Russian Roulette scenes) and when using the flamethrower. He switches to left-handed with the Remington 700, as well when using the M16A1. Cross-dominant shooters will often switch sides when using long guns, in order to be able to aim with their dominant eye when shouldering the weapon.

                                                         Remington 700 BDL- .30-06.

                                     Michael right after shooting a deer with his Remington

To watch this hunting clip, click here:

Most notable in the film are the scenes in which they make their escape during a game of Runssian Roulette, this is one of the guns they use. Norinco Type 56 rifles are used by the Vietcong. Michael and Nick (Christopher Walken) both take one from them during the Russian Roulette scene and use them to dispatch them all.

                                                      Norinco Type 56 - 7.62x39mm.

                                                   Michael with his captured Norinco Type 56.

To watch this powerfully intense scene click here:

A serious film about a serious war. The Deer Hunter captures much of the spirit of that time in history. Thank a Veteran today, they deserve our respect and gratitude.

For more information on the weapons used please go to:

#2- Apocalypse Now 

1979 Vietnam War epic directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The screenplay was co-written by Coppola and John Milius and was based on the Joseph Conrad novel Heart of Darkness. 

The opening of scene of this movie takes us right into the darkness that stirs U.S. Army Captain and special operations veteran Benjamin L. Willard. Who, since his return  to Saigon after his involvement in the Vietnam War, drinks heavily and hallucinates alone in his room. He is then visited by  military intelligence officers Lt. General Corman and Colonel Lucas, they offer him a top-secret assignment to follow the Nung River into the remote jungle, to find a rogue Special Forces Colonel Walter E. Kurtz  and terminate his command with extreme prejudice. Kurtz had lost his mind and now commands his own Montagnard troops inside neutral Cambodia.

Willard joins a Navy PBR commanded by "Chief", crewmen Lance, "Chef", "Mr. Clean" and they rendezvous with the reckless Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore. Kilgore befriends Lance, both being keen surfers, and agrees to escort them through the Viet Cong-filled coastal mouth of the Nung River due to the surfing conditions there. Amid napalm air strikes on the locals and Ride of the Valkyries playing over the helicopter loudspeakers, the beach is taken and Kilgore orders others to surf it amid enemy fire. While Kilgore regales about a previous strike, Willard gathers his men to the PBR, transported via helicopter, and begins the journey upriver.

Willard sifts through files on Kurtz, learning that he was a model officer and possible future General. After a night out, the crew inspect a civilian sampan for weapons but Mr. Clean panics and machine-guns everyone on board. Willard coldly shoots dead the only woman alive to prevent any further delay of his mission. Tension arises between Chief and Willard as Willard believes himself to be in command of the PBR, while Chief prioritizes other objectives over Willard's secret mission. Reaching the chaos of a US outpost at a bridge under attack, Willard learns that the missing commanding officer, Captain Colby, was sent on an earlier mission to kill Kurtz.

Throughout all of this both Lance and Chef are continually under the influence of drugs. Ambushed again, by Montagnard warriors, they return fire despite Willard's objections. Afterwards, Willard confides in the two surviving crew members about the mission and they reluctantly agree to continue upriver. After arriving at Kurtz's outpost at last, Willard takes Lance with him to the village, leaving Chef behind with orders to call an airstrike on the village if they do not return.

In the camp, the two soldiers are met by an American freelance photographer, who manically praises Kurtz's genius. Willard is bound and brought before Kurtz in the darkened temple, where Kurtz derides him as an errand boy. Meanwhile, Chef prepares to call in the airstrike but is kidnapped. Later imprisoned, Willard screams helplessly as Kurtz drops Chef's severed head into his lap. After some time, Willard is released and given the freedom of the compound. Kurtz lectures him on his theories of war, humanity and civilization while praising the ruthlessness and dedication of the Viet Cong. Kurtz discusses his son and asks that Willard tell his son everything about him in the event of his death.

That night, as the villagers ceremonially slaughter a water buffalo, Willard enters Kurtz's chamber as Kurtz is making a tape recording, and attacks him with a machete. Lying mortally wounded on the ground, Kurtz whispers his final words "The horror ... the horror ..." before dying. Willard descends the stairs from Kurtz's chamber and drops his weapon. The villagers do likewise and allow Willard to take Lance by the hand and lead him to the boat. The two of them ride away as Kurtz's final words echo eerily.

A dark film that takes us into the violent, twisted world of a good man trying to take down a man drunk with war and power. Between an incredible plot line and actors that are masters of their craft Apocalypse Now is an all time classic. The cinematography for it's genre was executed with a style and grace that is signature to Coppola. Let's take a look at the weapons and scenes that stood out the most in this movie.

One of the more famous scenes involves the tune "The Ride of the Valkyries" and involves a helicopter and intense weaponry, you can watch it here:

An M60 machine gun is seen carried by one of LTC Kilgore's (Robert Duvall) soldiers that rides in the helicopter with Chef and Clean. Clean (Laurence Fishburne) is the M60 gunner on the Navy PBR. Chef (Frederic Forrest) is seen firing the M60 briefly while taking incoming arrows from natives, but switches to the single mounted M2.

                                                   M60 machine gun - 7.62x51mm NATO

                                   The gunner continues to pour fire down with his M60.

Another weapon I want to take a look at is the Browning M2HBs they are single and double hand mounted on the Navy PBR. Jay 'Chef' Hicks is the rear gunner with the single mounted M2HB (nicknamed after the band "Canned Heat"). Lance Johnson is the front gunner with double hand mounted M2's. While traveling on the river through the Do Lung Bridge two soldiers are seen firing an M2 trying to kill a single VC under all the dead VC bodies.

To watch this scene click here:

                                           Browning M2HB on pintle mount - .50 BMG

                                                          Trench soldiers firing an M2HB

               Chef fires "Canned Heat" while taking incoming tracer rounds. Note Kilgore's surfboard.

This novel was well written and the translation to film was done in a respectful manner. Again, with all movies set in wartime it's important that we take a moment to be grateful for all those who's lives have been lost to keep our country free and safe.

For more information on the weapons used please go to:

#3 Platoon: 

1986 Vietnam War film directed by Oliver Stone, who based the film on his own experiences as a combat infantryman in both the 1st Cavalry Division and the 25th Infantry Division.

Chris Taylor is a young American who has abandoned a privileged life at a university to enlist in the infantry, volunteering for combat duty in Vietnam. Upon arrival in Da Nang, South Vietnam, he sees dead soldiers in body bags being loaded into his plane, but more distressing to him is the shellshocked state of a departing soldier with the "thousand-yard stare." Taylor and several other replacements have been assigned to Bravo Company, 25th Infantry division, "somewhere near the Cambodian border." Worn down by the exhausting work and living conditions, he develops an admiration for the more experienced soldiers, despite their reluctance to extend their friendship.

One night North Vietnamese soldiers set upon Taylor's sleeping unit. Gardner, a fellow new recruit, is killed, and another soldier, Tex, is maimed. Despite having passed the watch duty to Junior, a more experienced but consistently irresponsible soldier who fell asleep, Taylor is blamed for the casualties (O'Neil is also to blame, having thrown the grenade that maimed Tex). Immediately after the fighting, Taylor discovers a light wound to his neck, and he is sent to the field hospital for treatment.

A few days later, Taylor returns to his unit from the hospital and, through a soldier named King, gains acceptance from the "heads", a tight-knit group led by Elias that loves to socialize and party. Next door, Barnes leads the more traditional members of the unit whom drink beer and play cards and don't do drugs. Taylor becomes a more seasoned soldier as the patrols continue and soon no longer stands out amongst the others.

As the film continues the platoon finds what appears to be an abandoned bunker. Elias explores a series of tunnels connected to the bunker. Two members of the platoon, Sandy and Sal are killed when they stumble upon a booby trap. Shortly after, a soldier named Manny Washington goes missing and later his mutilated body is found tied to a post close by. The platoon is infuriated by the senseless death of their comrade and are ordered to report to a nearby village of South Vietnamese citizens.

Upon reaching the village the platoon finds a food and weapons cache.While questioning the village chief, Barnes loses his patience and senselessly kills the man's wife despite his denials that they are aiding the Viet Cong. Barnes is about to murder the man's young daughter to force him to tell them to where the enemy is when Sergeant Elias arrives at the scene and starts a fistfight with Barnes. Lieutenant Wolfe, passive during the shooting of the wife, eventually ends the fight, and relays orders from his own superior officer to burn the village. As the men leave, a group of four soldiers, including Bunny and Junior, drag a young Vietnamese girl into the bushes with the intention of raping her. Taylor comes upon them and stops the group from raping the girl. His comrades ridicule him for stopping them.

Upon returning to base, Elias reports Barnes' actions to Captain Harris, who cannot afford to remove Barnes due to a lack of personnel. However, Harris threatens to court martial Barnes if there is evidence that he murdered an unarmed civilian. O'Neil and Bunny, nervous about the possibility of an investigation, speak to Barnes and Bunny suggests "fragging" Elias. A narrating Taylor speaks of this as "a civil war in the platoon. Half with Elias, half with Barnes." 

On their next patrol the platoon is ambushed and pinned down in a firefight by unseen enemy soldiers. Flash  is killed and Sergeant Warren and Lerner are badly injured in the resulting skirmish. Lieutenant Wolfe calls in wrong coordinates for artillery support, resulting in the deaths and injuries of many soldiers.  Though Lt. Wolfe is commanding officer, Barnes takes command. He orders the rest of the platoon to retreat to be airlifted from the area, and goes back into the jungle to find Elias' group. After sending Taylor, Rhah, and Crawford (who has been shot in the lung) back, Barnes finds Elias. The two stare at each other for a few moments and then Barnes fires three rounds into Elias' chest and leaves him for dead. Barnes runs into Taylor and tells him that Elias is dead and that he'd seen his body nearby. Barnes orders Taylor back to the landing zone. After they take off, the men see a severely wounded Elias emerge from the jungle, running from a large group of NVA soldiers. He dies after being shot several more times by the NVA while the American helicopters futilely attempt to provide him cover overhead.

At the base, Taylor tries to talk his dwindling group of six "heads" into killing Barnes in retaliation, claiming that when he'd met Barnes in the forest after shooting Elias, that the look on Barnes' face told him the truth. Rhah reminds Taylor how much he admired Barnes when he first arrived, and that Barnes isn't meant to die, noting that on several previous occasions Barnes has sustained wounds that ought to have proved mortal: "the only thing that can kill Barnes, is Barnes." Barnes then appears, very drunk with a bottle of bourbon, having overheard Taylor calling for his murder. He enters the room, daring them to kill him. No one takes up the offer but as Barnes leaves, Taylor attacks him. Barnes quickly gets the upper hand, pins Taylor down and holds a knife to his face. Rhah urges him not to do it, telling Barnes he'll be court-martialed and imprisoned, and he leaves, slashing Taylor under the eye.

A few days later, the platoon is sent back to the ambush area in order to build and maintain heavy defensive positions against a potential attack. Rhah is promoted to Sergeant, commanding the remains of Elias' squad. The platoon is so severely weakened, though, that there are numerous gaps in their defense.The troops try to prepare for the incoming battle, during which they know the majority of them will die. Just hours before nightfall, King is allowed to go home as his tour of duty has come to an end. O'Neil tries to use Elias' R&R days for himself in order to escape the impending battle as  he believes he will die. When he asks Barnes for permission, Barnes refuses, saying, "Everybody gotta die some time, Red." Junior tries to escape the battle by spraying mosquito repellent onto his feet and passing it off as trench foot, a ploy that Barnes recognizes right away. Bunny states that he feels no remorse for the murders he has committed, saying that he enjoys Vietnam, and goes on to proclaim himself to be "Audie Murphy", a famous and highly decorated World War II hero.

On another fateful night a large attack occurs and the American defensive perimeter is broken and the camp overrun by hundreds of attacking North Vietnamese troops. Taylor and Francis take on and cut down several attacking enemy troops until they both pause when they hear signal whistles from the unseen NVA sergeants ordering their men to cease fire. Hearing a Vietnamese voice over a bullhorn and understanding that the NVA are ordering RPGs up to the line to blow up the foxhole they are in, Taylor grabs Francis and both of them crawl out of the foxhole seconds before it's hit by an RPG. Taylor and Francis then attack and kill several enemy soldiers that overrun their destroyed foxhole until Taylor loses it during the fight and charges off into the carnage, shooting one enemy soldier after another.

Meanwhile, the NVA attack against the base continues relentlessly. The command bunker is destroyed by a NVA suicide bomber. During the massed North Vietnamese Army attack, many members of the platoon are killed, including Lt. Wolfe, Parker, Doc, Bunny, and Junior when their foxholes are overrun. O'Neil survives only by hiding himself under a dead body. The desperate company commander, Captain Harris, orders the Air Force pilots to "expend all remaining" inside his perimeter. During the chaos, Barnes and Taylor come face-to-face. As a crazed Barnes is about to beat Taylor with a shovel, the two are knocked unconscious by the last-ditch American napalm attack.

A wounded Taylor regains consciousness the next morning with a serious wound to his lower abdomen. He soon finds Barnes, who is also wounded after being shot in both legs during the battle. Taylor takes an AK-47 rifle from a dead enemy soldier and aims it at Barnes, who lays helpless on the ground. Nonetheless, Barnes feels at first not threatened, and he dismissively orders Taylor to call a medic. When Taylor does not comply, but instead continues to aim his weapon, Barnes (deranged to the last) dares him to pull the trigger by saying: "Do it!" Taylor shoots Barnes three times in the chest, killing him. Taylor then drops his rifle, collapses, and awaits medical attention.

Francis emerges from his foxhole and stabs himself in the thigh with a bayonet in order to be evacuated as a casualty. O'Neil is found by other Americans, and Harris gives him command of the platoon. As he is loaded onto the helicopter, Taylor is reminded by Francis that because they have been wounded twice, they can go home. After saying goodbye to the remaining soldiers and the helicopter flies away Taylor weeps as he stares down at the destruction, while he (from a future perspective) narrates that he will forever be in Vietnam, with Barnes and Elias battling for what Rhah called "possession of his soul", and that he believes he and other veterans must rebuild themselves, and find goodness and purpose in their lives.

This film is typical of this type of genre set in Vietnam. Dark, gritty conflict and unstable soldiers racked with fear and courage. We grow to attach and relate to these characters as their flaws and glories are sprawled across the scenes of this movie. Let's take a look at a couple scenes that stand out in this cinematic portrayal of the hell of war.

Soldiers of the 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 25th Infantry Division "Tropic Lightning" carry M16A1s, most commonly seen in the hands of PVT Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen). M16A1s are also carried by Big Harold , Manny, Francis, and Sergeant Red O'Neill.

                                          M16A1 with 20 round magazine - 5.56x45mm

                                                 A soldier rests with his M16A1 at his side

                                          Taylor (Charlie Sheen) with his M16A1 at the ready.

One of the most well known battle scenes can be seen here:

A smaller weapon used was the M1911A1 is the standard sidearm for all of the NCOs and Officers in the film. It is most prominently seen used by SGT Elias (Willem Dafoe) when he does tunnel rat duty and SSG Barnes (Tom Berenger) when he uses it to threaten a little girl in the village to get her father to talk.

                                                                         Colt M1911A1 - .45 ACP

                                       Tex's (David Neidorf) M1911A1 sits next to his helmet.

              Staff Sergeant Barnes threatens a little girl with his .45 in the intense scene in the  village.

Platoon offers a view of Vietnam through the eyes of disillusionment and the moral and mental breakdowns that happen in war. We see the raw sides of men like our brothers, Uncles, cousins, other family member and friends. War is truly hell. If your looking for a movie that will make you think as well as keep you entertained I suggest dusting off your copy of this movie and re-watching it..

For more information on the weapons used go here:

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Shawn in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan.

For more info on these and other weapons
Technical specs compiled from:

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