Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket (1987) is comprised of two very different segments. The first segment of the film gives a realistic portrayal of the boot camp experience of newly drafted Marines. The audience is given a glimpse of the process that dehumanizes the young recruits and shapes them into the cold-blooded killers that stereotypically are created by such a process. Private J.T. "Joker" Davis (Matthew Modine) is introduced and will remain an integral character throughout the film. He is a skinny young recruit whose brain overpowers his brawn and who, upon graduating from boot camp, joins the war as a correspondent for Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman (Lee Ermy) is the drill sargeant that nearly pushes the recruits over the edge as he is forced to deal with Leonard "Gomer Pyle" Lawrence (Vincent D'Onofrio). Private Pyle is, according to Sgt. Hartman, a "worthless piece of shit" and a "disgusting fat body." Private Pyle must deal with the constant agony of Hartman's insults and punishment until the drill sergeant finally reaches the end of his rope and begins punishing the rest of the recruits for mistakes Pyle makes. Thus begins Private Pyle's metamorphosis from incapable and worthless recruit to expert marksman and deranged killing machine. The first half deals mainly with Private Pyle's self-destruction as witnessed by Private Joker. The final scenes in the boot camp end with the killing of Sergeant Hartman and Private Pyle by Pyle himself. .
In the second half of the film, the viewer is given a glimpse of the actual war itself. The action is taken to the battlefields of Vietnam, where American victory is fading after the Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive. On the 31st of January of 1968, Vietcong guerrilla fighters violated the temporary truce they had pledged to observe around the lunar New Year celebrations and surged into more than one hundred towns and cities, including Saigon.