The premise behind Coach vs Client is predicated on one key element of the training sessions that I myself have with Coach Justin Perillo (aka Coach JP) as the topic of film are a mainstay of the conversations in between sets and for the heavier ones we’d often evoke a film that resonates in that very moment.
With each new recommendation, is the obvious exchange in ideas and the very pursuit of new material based on the discussion.
In the first iteration for FILM COMBAT SYNDICATE, The Coach (Justin) has selected the topic of War movies and below are his Top 5 followed by that of The Client (myself)
COACH – TOP 5 WAR MOVIES
5. THE DEER HUNTER (1978) – 1970’s Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep. Wow. I really loved this film. For a war film, it has a unique quality of being less about the war, and more of an exploration of friendship and the ways in which the horrors of war affect and change people and impact war has on life back home, and returned soldiers. Although there is plenty of graphic exposure to the terrifying brutality of the Vietnam War. Walken’s incredible, intense portrayal of a soldier who’s mental faculties are slipping away due what has he has experienced in Vietnam is a highlight for me. The confronting Russian roulette scenes I believe outline one key theme of the film, that in combat, everybody has the same chance of eventually copping the loaded chamber of the gun. Just as with Russian roulette, sometimes it’s your turn, sometimes it’s not. Extremely powerful movie.
4. APOCALYPSE NOW (1979) – Another Vietnam war move from the 70’s. I think I’m so enamoured by these films from this time because it’s a period where the Vietnam war had such a profound recent impact on society. What I love about this film just as much as the film itself is the amazing stories behind the making of. A journey into madness and hysteria, both in the film and behind the scenes. Phenomenal filmography. Beautifully haunting. Side note, great sound track that really got me into The Doors. Marlon Brando showing up to set so out of shape that his character was filmed mostly in the dark, and from the waist up, not to mention the fact that he never looked at the script or learnt his lines is an interesting sidenote and a look into the chaos that surrounded the filming of what is one of the best war movies ever. Apocalypse now is Another exploration of how war can affect the human soul.
3. PLATOON (1986) – My most recently watched on the list, I’d forgotten how confronting some scenes in this movie are. I was brought to tears in certain points. Loved this film as it really highlighted the absurdity of the Vietnam War towards the later years when essentially, the US had no chance. The soldiers and public no longer believed in the cause, and soldiers were basically sent into various battles with the expectation that they would be killed, solely because of the egos of those in charged. Performances from Willem Defoe, Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger are magnificent. The story within the story of betrayal and murder amongst US soldiers, the Vietnamese were no longer the enemy. They were their own enemies. Sgt. Elias’s (Willem Dafoe) “feeling good is good enough” As the soldiers are kicking back smoking weed in their base left an indelible mark on me. What must life have been like for these young men? I love that the film included a tribute to those who served and died in the Vietnam War.
2. FULL METAL JACKET (1987) – A Kubrick masterpiece. Another film that explores the dehumanising effects that the Vietnam War had on those who served. From the first half of the film which follows a group of recruits on Parris Island experiencing the harsh and extreme bootcamp conditions designed to turn boys and young men into trained killers. To follow sgt joker covering the war showing experiences and perspectives from the eyes of the soldiers. Again, an example of how in the Vietnam war, these soldiers were victims, not of the Vietnamese, but those in charge of the US at the time. The attitude that maintaining peace requires war may have merit, but it has cost countless lives. These men were sacrificed by their country. A powerful film and one of Kubrick’s best, which is saying something.
1. 1917 (2019) – My first on the list that is not a Vietnam War film. I’m not sure why, but the Vietnam war seems to capture my attention more so than others. But this film is simply brilliant. “Filmed in a series of extended, uncut takes that could be connected seamlessly to look and feel as if it’s one continuous shot” I was lucky enough to see this cinematic masterpiece at the cinema. The responsibility placed on two young men to deliver a message that will stop 1,600 soldiers walking straight into a deadly trap. The enemy in this film is time, and all of the dangers that will be encountered during the journey. Beautiful cinematography, suspense and a look into the horrible conditions experienced by those who served in World War I. This film shows the horrors of trench warfare in all their brutality. This is a brilliant film, overwhelmingly emotional and one that makes you deeply thankful to not have existed in such a time. If I’d been born in 1888 instead of 1988, the reality of WWI would’ve been my fate. A deep, impressive, confronting and realistic view of the brutality of WWI.
CLIENT – TOP 5 WAR MOVIES
5. EMPIRE OF THE SUN (1987) – Boasting an all-star cast including the likes of John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson and ofcourse a young Christian Bale; Empire of the Sun is a surprise from Stephen Spielberg forgoing the pulpy adventure of Indiana Jones’ Raiders of the Lost Ark or the more family friendly E.T. Instead Spielberg opts to tell the story of a young privileged English boy, Jim Graham (Christian Bale) who is surviving the horrors of the Japanese occupation of China during World War 2. With the lush visual and audio tapestry (with cinematography by Allen Daviau and the musical score by John Williams), Spielberg draws viewers into the gradual decay of a city under siege, with the impacts of violence seen through the eyes of a young child. With Jim’s focus on survival and quest to reunite with his parents, amongst a historical battle the movie can be uneven and incorrectly paced in parts however what elevates the picture is ofcourse, a young Christian Bale who depicts a range of emotions and characterisations that are simply as unforgettable as the setting.
4. AMERICAN SNIPER (2014) – Certainly one of the more recent films on my list, but one that is no less powerful given it’s (somewhat) biographical narrative. Aspiring cowboy Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) finds purpose in the military, quickly becoming a somewhat iconic sniper amongst his SEAL peers. Though clearly talented and adept, Kyle’s struggles on a tour of duty in Iraq are not in the actual military engagement but rather with his own personal demons, such as his relationship with his wife, Taya (Sienna Miller). Here on out, the legendary Clint Eastwood composes a story about personal struggle, and how the circumstance of conflict manifest, in ways that the mind cannot comprehend – long after the war. It is clear that the picture Eastwood paints, is the price of war. For men like Chris Kyle, that war never ends but rather follows, grips and haunts each of these men, who ultimately face a battle with an unseen enemy. Evidently, the turn of events in Chris’ life were tragic and perhaps served as a bookmark on the impacts of modern conflict, one that Eastwood effortless explores and illustrates.
3. GALLIPOLI (1981) – Featuring a young Mel Gibson, this excellent work by Australian Director Peter Weir remains an unforgettable piece of Australian cinema. Notwithstanding that the final moments in the final shot are freeze framed in all its nightmarish glory, thus etching itself in the consciousness of the audience. Here, Weir crafts a somewhat formulaic historical piece focussing on the ANZACS in World War 1, who are sent to Gallipoli to fight the Turkish army. The protagonists are two athletes, Frank Dunne (Mel Gibson) and Archy Hamilton (Mark Lee) who form a friendship over their conscription, with each handling extraordinary circumstances in their own distinct way. Both are likeable, and easy going and due to the formulaic narrative we are heavily invested in each of the characters, sharing in their hopes, dreams and aspirations. Whilst the machinations of conflict are gradually escalated, so are the stakes and as their colleagues die all around them (in a horrific trench warfare scenario) the inevitability of their fates become evident leading to the aforementioned shock ending that is bone chilling.
2. THE CASUALTIES OF WAR (1989) – Quite a literal surprise to see the quirky and youthful Michael J Fox starring in this harrowing and disturbing film by Brian De Palma, with much of the film focussing on an actual atrocity against one single, hapless victim. When a combat engagement in Vietnam turns awry, a squad of five embark on a sadistic mission massacring innocents and taking a young Vietnamese girl hostage. Sean Penn plays the dastardly and sadistic Sgt Meserve who is quick to justify as well as enforce the brutality he inflicts on the populace, with willing and impressionable subordinates such as Diaz (John Leguizamo) partaking out of fear, thus forgoing any ethical standards. The only dissenting voice is Eriksson (aforementioned Michael J Fox) who bravely challenges his leader, but is outmanned and outnumbered rendering his efforts a moot point and enabling the depravity to continue. Though the movie is directed by a then-Hollywood heavyweight, the abuse scenes (almost reminiscent of Gaspar Noe’s IRREVERSIBLE) are incredibly difficult to watch even though the film itself is so wonderfully shot. This is one that deserves the title it was granted.
1. DAS BOOT (1981) – It may be the confinement that isolates and even suffocates the viewer with its intensity, but Wolfgang Petersen’s narrative is a deep dive (pun intended) into the psyche of participants of war. One could argue that this film is a masterpiece because it doesn’t purely focus on the engagement in combat, but on the personal struggles of each of the men. The claustrophobic setting gradually takes its toll on the soldiers, and their harrowing pain is felt by us, the audience are invested by design and the very nature to which this plays out is as tragic as it is confronting. And yet despite the isolated setting, Petersen has managed to inject some twists and turns in what is a very traumatic and emotional movie. There is no glamorisation in the depiction of conflict, but the emotive undertaking suffered by these German servicemen prompts us to view them not purely as soldiers of the Axis but rather young men who are serving their country; and are above all, human. What’s more, the incredible Jurgen Pronchow’s demonstrates the tough exterior in Lt. Henrich Lehmann-Willenbrock as a leader trying to balance his duty to his nation and to his subordinates. At four hours in duration, the film demands much from the viewer but gives so much in return
-JUSTIN PERILLO BIO: Justin Perillo is a Melbourne based Personal Trainer with 13 years experience in the fitness industry and a university education in Psychology. Justin aims to achieve significant body transformations with all of his clients along with the aim of educating on how to achieve fantastic results with sustainable, efficient and enjoyable methods. The belief being, there’s no point achieving a great result if you don’t know how to keep it. Along with this passion for health and physique, Justin enjoyed a short football career at the amateur level before focusing more on opening a Personal Training studio and physique development. Since early childhood, thanks to the influence of two older siblings who incidentally introduced him to the horror genre from around the age of six years old, Justin has long been an avid film watcher. Relaxing and watching a movie is one of Justin’s favourite things to do after a tough gym session. IG: @justin_lean365
-VANCE ANG BIO: Vance Ang has primarily been professionally published in bodybuilding and fitness since 2005, having written extensively for hardcopy publications such as Australian IRONMAN and FLEX; but also for e-publications such as RAW Muscle and more recently the media platform, The Evolution of Bodybuilding. He is a Melbourne based policy and strategy consultant currently undertaking his post graduate study in Law. In addition to bodybuilding, conservative politics and Savate (French Kickboxing), he has long been a fan of movies and cinema of all genres – subsequently prompting an interest in modern story telling, that being script writing. He is in the process of writing his first horror novel ‘Providence’