The “enemy” of the two films, the communist guerrillas and the great white shark, would seem, at first glance, to make few parallels, and yet… In 2001, following a series of shark attacks on the coast of Florida, and nothing better to write about this “silly season”, Time magazine dubbed this period “the summer of the shark” in its cover story for the August 28 issue. But after 9/11, satirical outlet The Onion took its wits out of the media’s unwarranted obsession with shark attacks with an article titled “Sharks: Terrorists of the Sea,” a nod to the taking of awareness that now more or less everything would be seen through the prism of terrorism. Also remember that there had been even more attacks the previous year.
Whether they are considered freedom fighters, guerrillas or terrorists, Viet Cong attacks are just as sudden, unexpected, violent and terrible as a shark attack while intelligence, cunning, Both the Shark and the Viet Cong – Bruce and Charlie, if you will – are underplayed by their antagonists. And they both attack from the shadows. As the saying goes, “the night belongs to Charlie”, so it’s no surprise that the late-night singing aboard the Orca is interrupted by Bruce’s unexpected attack. Essentially, they’re both ambush predators, killing machines perfectly suited to fulfill their respective roles. Bruce was honed to do nothing but “eat, swim, and do little sharks.” Compare Hooper’s marvelous portrayal of Bruce to the description of the northern allies of the Viet Cong by another Vietnamese film sergeant, Frantz, played by Dylan McDermott in the greatly underrated Hamburger Hill:
“What you meet there are hardcore NVAs – North Vietnamese – motivated, highly trained and well equipped.”