Australia has not made many war films, let alone films about the conflict in Vietnam. Not counting The Sapphires (2012), the story of the all-female Aboriginal band of the same name, which includes the women touring Vietnam to entertain American troops, our cinematic output about this war is precisely two films: The Odd Angry Shot (1979) and the little-known A Street to Die (1985), a drama about a Vietnam veteran battling for recognition and compensation for cancer caused by Agent Orange. This slender cinematic canon is what makes director Kriv Stenders’ Danger Close: The Battle for Long Tan such a wasted opportunity.
Australia’s military engagement in Vietnam ran from 1962, when the first Australian army advisors were deployed, to early 1973, when our last troops were withdrawn soon after the election of the Whitlam government. Danger Close is the story of the most significant Australian military engagement of this conflict, in August 1966, when Delta Company, 108 young and mostly inexperienced Australian soldiers, encountered a force of around 2,000 North Vietnamese troops in a rubber plantation in Long Tan, Phuoc Tuy province, in what was then South Vietnam.