Uwe Boll Talks Tunnel Rats

Director Uwe Boll took the time to answer some questions about his new original war film “Tunnel Rats”. I want to thank Uwe for once again making time to answer our questions.

I have been getting a lot of feedback based on your set reports, and people are anxious to know about the casting of the film. Can you tell the readers a bit about who is in the film and their parts?

Uwe: We hired young upcoming L.A. based actors, who were willing to endure a military boot camp, some of the actors’ fathers had experienced the Vietnam War. All of the young actors were heavily involved in the film making process.

What is the setting and story of the film, and what made you wish to do a film on Vietnam?

Uwe: It’s about the action that took place in the tunnels. Americans lost much of the war in the 260km tunnels. We reveal the unfortunate truth about war….Nobody Wins. War is never the solution!

How did you come to film in Africa, and what challenges have you faced as I imagine it is quite a bit different than filming in Vancouver B.C.

Uwe: We wanted to film the movie in Vietnam, but the film script did not pass the censorship laws. We chose South Africa because of its jungle locations and good film crews. It’s very inexpensive to film in South Africa. It proved to be ten times more successful than filming in Romania.

The scope of the film seems to be larger than any of your previous films. How have you prepared to stage the battle scenes? Has working with helicopters and other weapons of the era been a challenge?

Uwe: The scope of IN THE NAME OF THE KING is considerably larger than TUNNEL RATS. Acquiring all the tents, helicopters, wardrobe, weapons and other materials proved to be a major feat and accomplishment. I’m very much at home filming long action sequences.

Since music was such a large part of the soldier’s life in Vietnam, what sort of soundtrack will the film have?

Uwe: Classical music was the primary source for the movies film score, but we intend to purchase a number of 70’s songs.

What can you tell the readers about the boot camp that was setup for the actors, and do you have any humorous or memorable moments from this experience?

Uwe: It wasn’t remotely humorous .The experience was grueling, harsh and often involved long periods of painful silence. Some of the actors had to hide motionless for three hours in the hot sun. The performers had to fully understand the reality a soldier endured prior to ambush. Actors were forced to enter snake infested swamps. Our stunt coordinator, Dan (BLOOD DIAMOND), got bitten by a poisonous insect. He suffered an intense fever and nearly died.

Since the film deals with the tunnel warfare that was present during the conflict, how have you re-created the tunnels? Has staging scenes, lighting, and filming been a challenge in such a unique setting?

Uwe: It was challenging. We built everything in a large studio in Capetown and used little more than flashlights as a source of light. The actors vomited countless times as a result of the dirt and dust filled air. We built the tunnel entrances in the jungle. We always had to check for snakes. The deadly creatures loved the holes we’d created. One bite and you are dead within 45 minutes.

What sort of research did you do on the war and the combat styles to prepare for the film and how has this compared with the combat sequences you did “Postal” for example as I would think that jungle warfare is very tricky to portray on film compared to urban settings.

Uwe: I read various books on the Vietnam War and studied numerous documentaries on the subject. The most valuable learning experience came from talking to the war veterans. Having military advisors was a necessity and integral to creating a proper boot camp experience.

You had mentioned in your set reports that the U.S. was doomed to lose Vietnam and that your film would explore this. With many comparing the conflict in Iraq to the Vietnam conflict, what lessons do you believe have not been learned and do you see the U.S. heading down the same road in Iraq as they did in Vietnam?

Uwe: Absolutely! You cannot enter someone else’s country, remove their government or leader and expect the people to celebrate your actions. This applies even when the country’s leader is a criminal or a dictator. The present situation in Iraq, for the average citizen, is horrific. They would be happier if Saddam was still in power. The Iraqi’s now reflect on Saddam’s reign as a happier time. The present situation is absurd.

One can be killed on any street corner, as bombings continue to take place everywhere. Historically you were killed only if you criticized Saddam. Now everyone is a target. The U.S. entered Iraq without any plan or strategy once Saddam was removed from power. The Iraqi people do not want the Americans in their country. The anti-American sentiment is fuelled further with the U.S. presence in Iraq.

If the U.S.troops leave Iraq, there will likely be a civil war. If the U.S. stays in Iraq the hatred For Americans will continue to fester and the average Iraqi citizen will lose any chance of experiencing a normal life. The statistics reveal that 70% of Iraq’s people are afraid to leave their home and go to work and 35% want to leave their country. The Iraq war is yet another example of the American plight to solve international problems through war. War has never resolved anything since the Second World War. It failed in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not solve anything in Iran.

The TUNNEL RATS film will hopefully reveal the ineffectiveness and absurdity of war.