Date: August 10, 1990
This Movie plays Right Place, Wrong Time
Air America is a 1990 American action comedy film directed by Roger Spottiswoode, starring Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. as Air America pilots, during the Vietnam War, flying missions in Laos. The protagonists discover their planes are used by other government agents to smuggle heroin; and then, they must avoid being made patsies in a frame-up. The plot is adapted from Christopher Robbins' 1979 non-fiction book, chronicling the CIA financed airline during the Vietnam War to transport weapons and supplies within Laos and other areas of Indochina subsequent to the North Vietnamese invasion of Laos. The publicity for the film—advertised as a light-hearted buddy movie—implied a tone that differs greatly with the tone of the actual film, which includes such serious themes as an anti-war political spin, focus on the opium trade, and a negative portrayal of Royal Laotian General Vang Pao (played by actor Burt Kwouk as "General Lu Soong").