Spook (2003)

 

 

 

Director:     Barry W. Levy.

Starring:     Barry W. Levy (Kick), Peter LaCroix (Dusty), Rachel Cronin (Kelly), Jay Brazeau (The Big Boss), Bill Croft (Company man #1), Garvin Cross (Company man #2), Holly Elissa (Bar Girl), Malcolm Stewart (Editor), Raugi Yu (Chinese son), Kim Le (The girl), Laara Sadiq (Barbara), Deborah DeMille (Frieda), Matt Fentiman (Pvt. Young).

Canada's secret involvement in the Vietnam War

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  curse words spelled out.

One interpretation of the word spook is that it's a spy.  "He was a spook for the C.I.A." 

Based on  true story. 

Vancouver, Canada. 1985.  A fellow named Kick who suffers nightmares about the Vietnam War puts on his army boots, army blouse and pants and with a red beret and a full beard and sunglasses, puts a pistol in his waistband and goes to the cemetery.  He says over a grave:  "Hollywood McCormack."  He puts the pistol to his head, but is suddenly interrupted by a woman with her hands up.  She says her name is Kelly Crawford and she writes for the Vancouver Telegraph.  Kick is pointing his pistol at Kelly and she tells him to relax.  She tells him that she's just here at the cemetery researching on the veterans.  She has a list of veterans and if they are in the cemetery, she can take their names off the list.  She is working on an article for Remembrance Day.  The man relaxes and Kelly puts a card in his shirt pocket.  She sees from an emblem that he was a ranger with the 82nd Air Borne unit in Vietnam.  She then leaves.

In a dream, Hollywood, with blood dripping down over his face, appears before Kick and knocks him down.  Hollywood asks:  "Remember when there was no death? Like there was no time.  We went to war.  The first day of death.  We hunted to live.  Life lives on life. A couple of fucking heroes.  Damn right!" 

The veteran goes into a bar.  The bartender named Dusty says look what the fucking cat dragged in.  Kick asks:  "Who died?"  The bartender replies:  "I thought you did.  Where you been?"  He then asks the vet if he's still trying to put the country in jail?  Kick ignores that question and asks what's the problem with all these new vets?  Have all the old veterans given up drinking?  The bartender says they're probably dead already. 

Kelly gets up in front of the microphone.  It's open mike night and anyone can get up and say anything that they want to say. 

Kelly starts talking:  Patrick Dusty Tucker (the bartender).  He and his dad were not officially allowed to enlist with America and so applied for special permission to cross the border to fight in Vietnam.  The total number of Canadians who crossed the border to fight for their southern neighbor was nearly 3,000.  Our vet says:  "Bull shit!"  The bartender tells him to be quiet, but Kick says he's just speaking his piece.  He gets angrier and pushes a young vet off the stage.  He pulls his pistol out and holds it pointing toward the ceiling.  He recites a rather nasty poem about no one caring about the Vietnam vets. 

Then Kick causes a brawl in the bar.  A couple of guys get knocked out.  Two guys who look like government agents of some kind do some fighting of their own.  Kick lands on the bar room floor.  The bar tender helps Kick, but winds up knocked out.  When he awakens, he tells Kick to get out of the bar.  Kick returns to his place.  He still has Kelly's card. 

The editor tells Kelly to bring him some new material on the Canadian Vietnam veterans.  Give him something that will make him angry. 

Kick lays down on his bed and soon he is dreaming about when he was a boy.  He was going to bed when his drunken father comes in telling him about fighting the "Krauts" in WWII.  Kick says Hollywood's dad told Hollywood that Kick's dad only feels bad because he lost most of his buddies in the war, but dad didn't die.  Kick asks his dad why did he fight in the war?  Dad says because he wanted to live free.  Kick asks if he will be going to war?  Dad says if they come asking for Kick to go to war:  "Run!" 

Kick sees Kelly in the cemetery again.  He walks over to her and tells her he's got something that she's going to want.  She is skeptical and Kick starts to walk away.  Now she changes her mind.  She tells him:  "For humanitarian reasons we sent doctors and nurses to South Vietnam.  We called them doughnut dollies.  And we sent field hospitals, right?  But we sent no assistance to North Vietnam.  They treated napalm burns in those hospitals, which is ironic because Canada manufactured the napalm.  In Montreal, to be specific.   Look, we spied for America. We spotted for bombing runs in Hanoi.  You see?  I know." 

Kick tells Kelly to come with him and buy him lunch.  They sit at a table and they order pie and coffee.  Kick wants to know about the basics of Kelly's life.  So she rattles off some basic facts.  Then he wants more facts.  She gets very exasperated with him, but eventually he starts answering her questions about him.  She gets up to go the the restroom.  She tells him that she wants him just to give her on tape his basic information about past, present and future.  She walks away. 

Kick says into the tape machine that he was raised in a normal family.  He says then he went to war.  He has a flashback to his drill instructor yelling and screaming at him.  The drill instructor has a bullet hole on the left side of his face and a large exit wound on the right side of his face. 

The two government agent types are at the sitting at the counter.  When Kelly gets back, Kick tells her to call him tomorrow.  He leaves behind some type of manuscript. 

Two young guys follow Kick down the block.  Kick gives them the slip. 

The next day Kick tells Kelly that he will give her the material for her article, if she will tell the public that 40,000 Canadians served in Vietnam.  And she must leave his buddy Dusty out of this.  And, if he names him, he will kill her and her body never will be found.  He tells her that he doesn't exist and he likes it that way.  She tells him that she has one condition for him:  bake her a pie or she'll kill him and his body will never be found.  She walks away. 

Kick goes to the bar and asks his friend the bartender and owner about helping him bake a pie.  The guy says that he thought that Kick was coming over to tell him how sorry he was for messing up his bar the other day. 

Kelly has a friend named Barbara at the newspaper that is interested in her article about Canadian veterans who fought for the USA.  So Kelly runs some of the story off for her.  She says that what Kick calls "the machine" is the armaments manufacturers.  And Kick has a list of some of the largest manufacturers.  He says the machine sold weapons to both sides in Vietnam on credits.  For collateral they put up pieces of land and mineral rights in their country.  Those who run the machine came to own everything and everyone. 

Later Kelly's editor says what he wants is a Big Brother angle.  Kelly says that Canada was not an innocent bystander in all this.  They made agent orange, the actual green beret hats, tank parts, napalm, etc.

One of the government agents talks with Kick.  He tells Kick that he has had six months to get his manuscript published.  The agent can get Kick more classified information, but he's not going to take any more crap from Kick.  He adds:  "Uncle Sam doesn't mind handing me shit on Canada.  We took all the heat, and you guys made money.  They love the idea, but this is strictly a private deal.  I've taken so many chances and broken so many laws, that if we get caught, they won't even bother with the stockade.  I'm talking instant death."  The agent now asks Kick about how much does Kelly know about her father's dealings with the Martek business?  Martek owns a satellite number corporation that made war supplies for Vietnam.  

Kick tells the agent that two young guys are tailing him. The agent says he's not surprised, so Kick better watch his back. 

Kick shaves his beard off.  Kelly comes to see him.  He was just making her a cherry pie.  She likes his clean shaven face now.  Kelly says she wants to write an article that the Canadians will want to hear.  Kick asks why wouldn't they want to hear the story?  She replies:  "This is Canada. We're nice."

He shows her an article saying:  "Blood on Canada's hands to the tune of $300 million dollars!  Nearly 150,000 Canadian jobs making U.S. arms for Vietnam."  Kick says:  "3 billion dollars in war materials. Our gross national produce rose and fell with the Vietnam War.  We were supposedly sent in to negotiate peace, and spied for the Americans."  Kelly says:  "Kind of like a Trojan horse."

Kick mentions that Canadians don't want to hear that their parents are crooks.  Kelly takes that very personally and she threatens to leave.  She tells him not to judge her because Kick doesn't know anything about her.  She says that he thinks he's the only one putting his ass on the line, but he's wrong.  Kick says he's sorry.  He also says he's not used to being around someone so pretty.  She says maybe they should just stop talking.  They kiss.  (brief nudity)

In bed they eat their cherry pie. 

When Kick is gone during the day, Kelly goes through his boxes.  She finds the one box with lots of flip flops in it.  When Kick gets back, he gets really mad, and tells her to get out.  Kelly gets mad now and she walks out of his place. 

Kelly goes to the bar to see Dusty.  She says that his friend is one fucked up guy and she wants Dusty to give her some insights into Kick's problems.  He says that the loss of his buddy Hollywood, the two even enlisted together, was a big blow to Kick. 

Flashback.  In Vietnam Hollywood calls for an air strike right on his position.  An artillery shell hits right near Hollywood, killing him.  The shock wave blows Kick down.  Later Kick cuts off the two ears of a Vietnamese soldier and puts them in his shirt pocket.  When he goes home from Vietnam he has a bronze star.  His parents have the television on and Kick tells them he's never been to My Lai where the American massacre of Vietnamese civilians took place.  His mother says she knows that her son would never be involved in those kinds of situations.  He gets into an argument with his father, who says that in WWII, they never did things like they did in Vietnam.  Kick says they just sanitized things for the WWII audience back home.  Dad tries to strike his son, but his son punches dad in the stomach and he falls back into a chair. 

Back to the present.  The C.I.A. got hold of Kick for a project called Phoenix, counter-insurgency.  He was a renowned sniper who had a high kill ratio.  The enemy offered a reward for anyone who would bring Kick's head in on a stick.   Kick killed a Chinese General acting as an advisor to the Vietnamese.  Kick was listed as killed in action.  They even sent a death letter to his mother.  Hollywood died and they sent Hollywood's body back to Canada to be buried as Kick. 

Now Dusty says he's finished telling her things, but Kelly wants to know about this girl that Kick talks about in his sleep.  Dusty says the Viet Cong loved to set booby traps.  One of the booby traps was to place a bomb in a shoeshine box and let a child take the box to an American soldier or soldiers of other Western nations.  Now Dusty wont' say anything more about Kick. 

Kelly's editor is still not satisfied.  He wants to know who pulled the trigger. If she finds that out, the editor will print the article on the front page.

Kelly goes to see Kick again.  She says:  "The leader of the country."  She leaves his place. 

Kelly now meets a man named Tom who says he was a friend of her father's.  He also compliments her on doing so a good job on her report.  He says they thought she would make a good report, but this one is too good.  He asks Kelly if she really believes that the truth will set one free?  She asks what happened to her father?  They sent him to Eastern Europe, but he would just not keep his mouth shut about Vietnam and Canadian arms sales.  He makes her an offer that he made to her father:  a nice severance payment where Kelly can live in peace and quiet for the rest of her life, as long as she keeps her mouth shut. Kelly tells him to keep his money and kiss her Canadian ass. 

Now the man Kelly was talking to is assassinated by an unknown assassin.  All we know is that the assassin looks Asian. 

Kick goes to the bar to talk to Dusty.  Dusty is sitting in a booth and he holds a pistol on Kick.  He says he wants no more talk about army brothers who are dead and gone.  He says he has nightmares about a guy named Tony that both men know.  Now Dusty puts the barrel of his pistol just under his chin.  He then says:  "Promise me something.  For the other vets, for me when I'm gone.  You publish that piece.  You smear shit on those bastards who made us like this and got away clean."  Dusty kills himself. 

The telephone in the bar rings.  The message is undecipherable.  The only clear words were:  "the old shipyards". 

The two men that were trailing Kick have Kelly tied up in the old shipyards.  Kick slowly sneaks toward Kelly.  Kick kills the two guys, but the Asian assassin now shoots Kick.  He kicks Kick when he's down.  The assassin says:  "We meet at last, David Tacker.  Kick.  Born on Vancouver Island.  Went berserk after your airborne buddy dropped artillery on his own head.  The legend said you could not be killed, airborne.  All your comrades thought you were bullet proof.  Some kind of super hero."  The assassin now speaks to Kelly:  "You went on a quest for the truth, Kelly, and didn't care how he got it.  The man you've been fucking was quite the interrogator.  Cut holes in the back of people's heads and stuffed in one of their eyeballs.  He cut off ears and nailed them up for all to see.  Then you (Kick) had your little accident." 

The assassin says the little Vietnamese girl popped the lid open on the shoebox before Kick could shoot her.  Part of the leg bone went right into Kick's boot.  Kick was stopped by an 8 year old child.  There was nothing left to do with him, but to send him home.  The assassin then takes a wooden peg and slams it into Kick's boot saying this is in revenge for his father the general.  He's about to kill Kick when the agents show up and the assassin's attention is diverted to them.  Kick pulls the wooden peg out of his foot and drives it into the back of the assassin. 

Kick now gives Kelly's manuscript to the agents.  He then tells Kelly that her article will be the lead in day-after-tomorrow's New York Times.  It's a company connection.  Now he asks Kelly what does she think of him?  She says he's alive and so is she.  It's enough for now.  They kiss.  He tells her to help him up and then she can buy him lunch. 

Kick goes to the cemetery to say goodbye to Hollywood.   Now when he sees Hollywood, he doesn't have blood running down across his forehead and face.  And Kick too sees the little Vietnamese girl.  The men dance with the little girl. 

The article in the Vancouver Telegraph says:  "Canada secretly armed U.S .in Vietnam war  -- 40,000 Canadian boys served."

 

At times the film was a little hard to follow.  But it makes its point loud and clear.  The Canadians helped the US effort during the Vietnam War.  It provided troops and it provided arms, including agent orange and napalm.  The Canadians also spied on the Vietnamese for the USA.  Then Canada acted righteously indignant about the war-like Americans.  It was not generally known in Canada just how much help the Canadians provided the USA.  The American elites got tired of Canada's indignant attitude and released data on how much the Canadians really helped the USA and the amount of money Canada earned by providing men and weapons for the USA.  The article exposing this information was quite a bomb-shell in Canada.  So the American and the Canadian hands were both dirty in the waging of war in Vietnam.

I can see why the Canadians would be shocked because they assumed they are much nicer than the Americans on most aspects of life.  And to some extent they are probably right.  It's just that USA is the biggest superpower in the world and it feels it has to fight battles or wars that other nations would never get involved with.  And why should they get involved, when the US is going to do most of the fighting anyway?   The problem with the USA is that it gets too fearful at times, overestimates the seriousness of the threats and gets itself into unnecessary wars.  The whole world waits to see what the United States is going to do first, before they will stick their necks out.  If the US doesn't get involved in conflicts, probably no other western societies will get involved.  The USA is not evil.  It's just make a lot of mistakes about going to war and it ends up hurting the nation.  

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

 

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