Updated: Nov 3, 2020
Directed by: Samuel Gonzalez Jr.
Written by: Samuel Gonzalez Jr., Christopher Lang
Starring: Kit Lang, Arturo Castro, Illya Konstantin, Emily Trosclair, Vince Benvenuto
Wars end and destroy lives. This intense, emotional drama follows the life of Michael (Lang) and explores in detail how his experiences in the Vietnam War have affected him after he returns to the United States.
It is the late sixties, and Michael and his friend Tommy (Konstantin) voluntarily go to fight in Vietnam, in order to be with their friend Vinny (Castro), who has been drafted to serve in the war. Michael loses both his friends in Vietnam and goes back to the States. There he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and struggles to move on with his life. He then turns to crime.
Battle Scars is a hard-hitting look at the damage war can do to a person after they have left the battlefield. The audience first encounters Michael, as a joyful individual, who is enjoying life and has a bright future ahead of him. After Vietnam, he is a completely different person. Unable to overcome the horrors of combat and loss of his friends, he is unable to find a purpose and is sad and angry.
The film benefits from great performances, however Lang deserves special recognition. He is terrific as a man who is torn apart and constantly fighting with his emotions. At times he becomes so menacing and unlikeable that it is hard for the viewer to be on his side. Benvenuto also stands out as a bad-tempered, foul-mouthed man who convinces Michael to commit crime.
Generally, this is a rather dark story, with not much happiness. It focuses on a man, who is in great emotional pain. The horrors of war are graphically shown, including an enemy soldier being humiliated. There are criminals and people violently losing their lives. There are also disturbing intercourse scenes and plenty of profanity.
The film is very well made. There are wonderful establishing shots, interesting montage sequences, where the filmmakers make good use of the superimposition technique. The script is well written, the characters are compelling and the dramatic music effectively accompanies the scenes.
This is a feature that raises awareness for war veterans. It vividly shows the effects that combat can have on a person's psychology and end up ruining their life. For that, it is worthy of a lot of praise.