DRAGON SLAYER

 

 

 

 

FADE IN: 

 

INT.  TAIWANESE OPERATIONS COMPOUND AND ANTENNA FIELD AT DONG HOI, SOUTH VIETNAM - DAY

 

Several Taiwanese radio operators are intercepting the messages of Chinese radio operators they hear on their earphones.  Others are grabbing previous messages from a pile and translating them into English.  The atmosphere in the room is one of urgency bordering on crisis.  Throughout this scene is the SOUND of a HELICOPTER, beginning softly and RISING IN VOLUME, continuing into the next scene.

 

The CAMERA DOLLIES along a wall with photographs of these men standing and clowning with an American helicopter gunship crew in the compound's landing zone.  The number on the tail of the chopper is 7-4-6.  There are also two flags - one American and one Taiwanese - and pictures of LBJ and Chiang Kai-shek.  The CAMERA MOVES outside a window.

 

EXT. PERIMETER OF COMPOUND - DAY

 

The compound is in a remote mountainous area surrounded by jungle growth.  In an eerie early morning light, two South Vietnamese soldiers are on guard near a rear entrance.  One of the soldiers suddenly pricks up his ears and turns to his companion, motioning silently toward nearby jungle growth.  He holds his M-16 at the ready and walks toward the source of the noise.  His companion slings his M-16 on his shoulder and follows close behind him.  He slips a knife from a sheath.

 

The second soldier places one hand around his companion's mouth and plunges the knife into his back.  As he does so, dozens of well-armed, black-clad Viet Cong emerge from the jungle.  One of them slits the throat of the dying soldier.  They rush silently through the gate into the compound.

 

EXT. BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF VIETNAMESE MOUNTAINS - DAY 

 

In the same eerie early morning light, the shadow of a helicopter is skimming over a triple-canopy jungle stretching endlessly across Vietnamese hills and valleys.  FX: SOUND of chopper.

 

CLOSE UP on nose and plexiglas cockpit of chopper.  A pilot and co-pilot wearing olive green flight helmets.  Below them, the chopper's nose art depicts in vivid colors a fierce dragon being ridden by a scantily clad and very well-endowed young woman. The dragon is roaring and sending out streams of fiery smoke from its nostrils.  The woman is waving a sword. 

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

Six men are inside a United States Army Bell UH-1C Huey chopper: pilot, co-pilot, crew chief and door gunner.  Of the two passengers, one is a prisoner in handcuffs.  One is a military policeman. 

 

Weapons - bags of Claymore mines and crates of grenades have been crammed into every available space.  An M-60 machine gun is positioned ready for action in each of the two open cargo doors.

 

On the bulkhead are neatly painted black letters:

 

                82ND ASSAULT HELICOPTER COMPANY

                       MAJOR BRYON WHITE

                          COMMANDING

 

Except for the MP, the men in the helicopter are combat-hardened veterans.  It is especially obvious in their eyes: the Vietnam "thousand yard stare."   The crew chief is sitting on ammunition boxes lining the cargo deck's bulkhead, his flight helmet off, as he tugs on the stubborn string loops of its earphones. 

 

Most of the men are in their mid- to late-20's, suggesting, perhaps, that this is their second or even third tour of duty in 'nam.  The MP, on his first tour, is about 19.  His helmet liner is unspotted and his boots are spit-shined.  The others wear faded fatigues, dirty combat boots, flak jackets and .45's.  The pilot and co-pilot are wearing their normal chest armor. 

 

The magic marker message on the back of the door gunner's flak jacket reads:

 

                    HAPPINESS IS A COLD LZ

 

That on the back of the crew chief reads:

 

                   DON'T SHOOT - I'M SHORT!

Only the prisoner wears a soft, narrow-brimmed flop hat.  He is also the only one wearing green-and-black striped "tiger" fatigues - symbol of the hunter-killers of the LRRPs - Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols.  In addition to poorly healed shrapnel wounds, his hands and face bear the scars of long nights lying in wait in jungle ambushes - lacerations from elephant grass and bites from ants, mosquitoes, termites, leeches.  Areas of his face retain traces of his greenish-black camouflage paint; as if he just came out of the bush.  If anything, he appears even more the classic picture of a combat-hardened veteran than the others. By comparison, his MP guard appears boyish and unseasoned.

 

FX: During these opening shots, we HEAR the following radio conversation (V.O.) between helicopter and base:

 

                  PILOT (HARD BONES HAGGERTY)

Dragon base, this is Dragon seven.

Do you copy?  Over.

 

                             BASE

...Dragon seven, this is Dragon

base.  Over.

 

                          HARD BONES

Dragon base, Dragon seven has

accomplished its mission and

is on its way home.  Over.

 

                             BASE

Dragon seven, your CO requests

your present position and esti-

mated time of arrival.  Over.

 

                          HARD BONES

Dragon base, we are 35 clicks

southwest of Phu Bai and ETA is

one hour.  Over.

 

                             BASE

Copy, Dragon seven.  Your CO

requests mission report on

Firebase Alpha.  Over.

 

                          HARD BONES

Firebase Alpha completely evacuated. 

The slicks took the troops; we took

the weapons.  However, please be

advised we have one prisoner and

one MP on board as our first priority

and will be making an unscheduled

stop at Ahn Lo.  Over.

 

                             BASE

Say again, Dragon seven.  You have 

one VC prisoner on board?  Over.

 

                          HARD BONES

Negative, Dragon base.  Prisoner

is American.  Over.

 

                             BASE

...Copy, Dragon seven.  However, CO

asks for a report on weapons.  Over.

 

                          HARD BONES

Dragon base, please advise CO we have

a shitload of armament on board

including enough Claymores to mine

every rice paddy in Vietnam.  Over.

 

                             BASE

Dragon seven, your CO refuses

to believe you could have loaded

all the weapons he requested and

be back so soon.  Over.

 

                          HARD BONES

Dragon base, while it is true that a

shitload of weapons does tend to

affect one's flying speed, please be

advised that a United States Army

Bell UH-1C Huey gunship knows how

to haul ass when the right helmsman

is at the wheel.  Over.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

In the few seconds of silence, the pilot and co-pilot exchange smiles.

 

                          BASE (V.O.)

Roger that, Dragon seven.  Happy

flying.  Dragon Base out.

 

                          HARD BONES

Roger, Dragon base.  Dragon Seven, out.

 

EXT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

Again we see the nose art on the helicopter but as the SHOT WIDENS we see beneath the nose art the name: 

 

             DRAGON SLAYER

 

MAIN TITLES BEGIN HERE

 

The chopper in the sunlight.  The helicopter's tailboom reads UNITED STATES ARMY.  On its tail is the number:  7-4-6.  Perhaps also CLOSE SHOTS of the main rotor hub and tail rotor; of the two 7.62 mm rotary (six-barrelled) mini guns and of the two rocket pods. 

 

On the underside of the fuselage, the crew has painted a large bullseye target with scores inside each circle.  Over the target it reads:

 

               VC TARGET RANGE: HAPPY SHOOTING!

 

In the doorway, the watchful door gunner (KOOL-AID) grips his M-60 machine gun slung on its elastic bungee cord from the roof of the cabin.

 

EXT. JUNGLE - KOOL-AID'S POV

 

The jungle is grudgingly giving way to the smoke of cooking fires, ricefields, banana trees and the tops of thatched roofs.  Villagers and water buffalo.  Fishermen net-casting for fish.  Farmers peddling traditional chain-pumps as well as cone water buckets to raise water from one level to the next. 

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

The pilot switches to tower frequency on his radio.

 

                          HARD BONES

Ahn Lo Tower, this is Dragon seven...

Ahn Lo Tower, this is Dragon seven...

 

Suddenly, a frantic VOICE breaks in on the emergency frequency radio.  The VOICE is in Taiwanese-accented Mandarin with the exception of occasional CRIES for help in English.

 

                        CO-PILOT (FOX)

What the hell is that?  Charlie on

our frequency again?

 

                          HARD BONES

Chinese.  Something about...Jesus

Christ, it's Dong Hoi!  They're being

overrun!

 

                      MP (ROBERT LARSON)

I thought we were fighting Vietnamese.

 

                     GREENWOOD (PRISONER)

No, sonny, this is the listening post at

Dong Hoi.  Chinese radio ops were brought

over from Taiwan.  They're on a mountain

listening in on communications inside China.

 

                            LARSON

Dong Hoi?!  That's VC territory.

 

                           GREENWOOD

Yeah.  The Brass decided that if the shit

hit the fan these boys could get them out in

time.  How much you want to bet they won't?

 

The excited radio operator is becoming nearly hysterical.  We begin to hear the SOUND of GUNFIRE.  All four crew members hear everything in their earphones; the MP and the prisoner can hear the pilot's side of the conversation over the SOUND of the turbines and blades.

 

                              FOX

Jesus Christ!  They haven't got a chance!

 

                          HARD BONES

Dragon base.  This is Dragon seven.  Over.

 

                             BASE

Dragon seven, this is Dragon Base.  Over.

 

                          HARD BONES

The Taiwanese ops at Dong Hoi are

on the air screaming for help. 

Request permission to assist.  Over.

 

                             BASE

...Dragon seven, this is your company

commander.  We are aware of the situa-

tion at Dong Hoi.  Carry on with your

present mission.  Over.

 

                          HARD BONES

Sir, I repeat, the VC are apparently

overrunning Dong Hoi.  I can be there

in minutes!  Over!

 

                             BASE

Dragon seven, I repeat, your request

is denied.  You could not reach them

in time and, in any case, Dong Hoi is

not your mission.  Over.

 

                          HARD BONES

Dragon Base, twelve Taiwanese lin-

guists are about to be killed!  I

might be able to save them.  Over!

 

                             BASE

Dragon seven, you will proceed with

your present mission!  You will not

- repeat - not render assistance to

Dong Hoi!  That is a direct order!

Any attempt on your part to do so,

and I will have you up for an imme-

diate court-martial!  Over!

 

                          HARD BONES

Are you insane?!  If you don't care about

the men, what about the intelligence

documents?!  That station is handling

top secret, cryptographic material!  Over!

 

                             BASE

Request denied!  Proceed with your

mission!  Over!

 

                          HARD BONES

If the VC get their hands on those

documents, they'll know every move-

 

As Hard Bones stops talking abruptly his co-pilot reacts.

 

                              FOX

What?!  What's the matter?!

 

                          HARD BONES

(into the radio)

You son-of-a-bitch!  You bastards

want Charley to overrun the base;

you've planted false documents.  Over!

 

As the men scream to interrupt each other on their keyed radios, it creates static and jams their frequency until the other relinquishes.

 

                             BASE

Dragon seven, get off the air

immediately!  That is a direct

order!  So help me God, I'll have

you crucified!  Get off the air!

Dragon Base out!

 

                          HARD BONES

That's why you sent us to help eva-

cuate Firebase Alpha.  That's not

our mission; you just wanted us out

of the way.  You goddamned- (static)

 

                             BASE

Captain Haggerty, I am ordering- (static)

 

                          HARD BONES

A dozen Taiwan linguists sacrificed

for some kind of CIA stunt.  What did

the spooks promise you for cooperating,

Major?  A promotion?  Over.

 

                             BASE

That's it!  You get back here imme-

diately and consider yourself under

arrest!  I will personally- (static)

 

The pilot cuts him off; for several seconds the crew listens to the radio SOUNDS of AK-47s and the SCREAMS of Taiwanese ops.  Then silence; then the SOUND of Vietnamese voices.  Then nothing.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

                           GREENWOOD

                       (to crew chief)

Some hot-shot chopper crew. 

 

The crew chief (WIZARD) has pulled out a Bible and is looking for a quotation.  The Bible has a silver clasp, large red capitals and black text.  Wizard glances at Greenwood then turns away, ignoring him.

 

                           GREENWOOD

You boys gonna be known as the 

crew that fucked up at Dong Hoi. 

The hot-shots that got the Chinks

killed.  You boys were their

security.  Some security.

 

The prisoner and the MP are close together but, except for them, anyone not speaking into the intercom system must shout to be heard over the WHINE of the turbine engine and the SOUND of the rotors.  When the crew chief SHOUTS to be heard we hear his pronounced southern accent.

 

                            WIZARD

Your problem, Greenwood, is that

you don't know when to shut up!

 

                            LARSON

His problem is he killed a man and

he's going away for a long time!

 

Greenwood moves closer to the crew chief (WIZARD).

 

                       GREENWOOD (cont)

See, chief, the thing is, I only

killed one man, whereas you - you

boys got a dozen killed.   All

because good little soldiers got

to obey orders.  Now, what does

your good book say about that?

 

Wizard suddenly lurches at Greenwood with his hands at Greenwood's throat.  The door gunner (KOOL-AID) turns and aids the MP who is struggling to separate them. 

 

                              FOX

(looking back)

All right, knock it off!

 

                          HARD BONES

...I could have saved them.

 

                              FOX

We followed procedure.

 

                          HARD BONES

Yeah, I followed procedure; and

let twelve men die.

 

                              FOX

Hey, buddy, don't always be so

damned hard on yourself; it was

the Major's call.  We were set up.

 

                          HARD BONES

I wish to God I had a second chance.

 

Suddenly, LOUD ground fire erupts.  HARD BONES HAGGERTY sharply banks the chopper and spots dozens of muzzle flashes.  Green tracers of Vietcong automatic weapons fire are coming at them from a partial clearing in the jungle.  For every round they can see, there are four rounds they can't see.  FX: SOUNDS of automatic weapons. 
 

EXT. TERRAIN - DAY

 

A series of low rolling hills.  Below the chopper, surrounding huts clustered together in the middle of several rice paddies, an entire company of Vietcong are defiantly out in the open, energetically emptying their AK-47's and larger calibre machine guns at the chopper.  FX: Bullets hitting the chopper.  One sails cleanly through the plexiglas cockpit chin bubble.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

A bullet ricochets off Hard Bone's frontal ceramic plate - "chicken plate" - knocking the wind out of him and causing a bloody shrapnel groove along his cheek. 

 

                              FOX

You OK?

 

                          HARD BONES

Yeah.  I'm OK.  But that makes it

personal.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Oh, shit.  Here we go!

 

Kool-Aid pulls a handful of pills from his fatigue shirt pocket and looks them over.  He picks three of them.

 

                        KOOL-AID (cont)

You, you and you.  Step out of

formation.

 

He pops them into his mouth and puts the rest back in his pocket.

 

                        KOOL-AID (cont)

The rest of you are dismissed.  But

do not leave the area!

 

As the chopper climbs steadily to 1500 feet, Hard Bones wipes blood away from his cheek, opens a console cover and pushes a  toggle switch, arming the guns and rockets.  Red lights appear on the console.

 

                          HARD BONES

Going hot!

 

                            LARSON

(to pilot)

What are you doing?!

 

 

Because of his earphones under his flying helmet, Hard Bones cannot hear Greenwood or the MP; therefore, the MP speaks nervously to the crew chief.

 

                         LARSON (cont)

               What...what does he think he's doing? 

                            WIZARD

               Just what he should be doing, Mr.

Larson.  Fighting a goddamn war! 

 

                   LARSON

This helicopter has been commandeered

by my commanding officer to transport

my prisoner.  Your orders are- 

 

Ignoring the MP, Wizard tugs his flight helmet on, positions his microphone and grabs hold of his M-60 machine gun while Kool-Aid readies his M-60 machine gun in the opposite cargo door.  Hard Bones continues preparing for battle and speaking to the crew through the intercom system. 

 

                          HARD BONES

I hope Charlie appreciates the

fact that we're taking time out

from our busy schedule to shoot

back at him.

 

The MP moves to Kool-Aid and shouts next to his helmet.

 

                            LARSON

This is not proper procedure! 

 

                           KOOL-AID

That so?

 

                            LARSON

I mean...if a helicopter is shot

at, the pilot can't just shoot

back.  Not here!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Oh, you mean, when fired upon, we

should climb to altitude, find the

village on the map, call headquarters

and request permission to return

fire!?  Something like that?

 

                            LARSON

Yes!  And your headquarters will

call the province chief to see if-

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah, and then assuming by that time

the war ain't over and that the pro-

vince chief ain't a VC plant, we can

shoot back.  Fuck you very much!

 

                           GREENWOOD

At last!  A little action.  Hey,

Larson, how about unlocking the

cuffs?  If somebody's hit I can-

 

 

The increasingly nervous MP ignores Greenwood and moves between the seats of the pilot and co-pilot and shouts to Hard Bones.

 

                            LARSON

Listen, I think you should radio-

 

Hard Bones snaps out the radio circuit breakers.

 

                          HARD BONES

Sorry, son, I just lost radio contact.

 

Hard Bones speaks to his crew through the intercom.

 

                       HARD BONES (cont)

Weapons check!

 

Fox pulls the minigun sight down from its stowed position. 

 

                              FOX

You got it!

 

                            WIZARD

Ready!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Let's pop some caps!

 

EXT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

The nose of the chopper dips sharply to begin its steep dive and to open fire.  As it approaches the target, still taking enemy fire, Hard Bones fires a pair of 2.75 inch HE (high explosive) rockets, while Fox fires two 7.62 miniguns, each with six rotating barrels, slamming 4000 rounds per minute into the target area. 

 

As the helicopter breaks off and banks, Kool-Aid and Wizard begin firing their M-60 machine guns.  Their spent brass cartridges are ejecting at an incredible speed.

 

Red tracers are heading earthward, green tracers upwards, rocket pods are flaring, streaks of grey smoke trail the rockets.  Trails of brass cartridges tumble out of the chopper like rain, silhouetted black against the blue sky, light coruscating off them like dozens of little suns.

 

EXT. TERRAIN - DAY

 

Some of the huts, along with chickens, buffalo, cattle, trees and bits of Vietcong soldiers soar up in a big BOOM of dirt, straw and wood flying in all directions. 

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

Hard Bones works the collective and cyclic, abruptly sending the nose down, and buzzes straight over the area at treetop level.

 

EXT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

The chopper then begins its climb.  In a SERIES OF SHOTS, the crew ignore the sights and SOUNDS of bullet holes appearing in the chopper, the sudden vibrations and the inexplicable engine NOISES and continue to climb in preparation for another dive. 

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

The bright yellow chip detector warning light comes on.

 

                              FOX

              Uh oh!  We got metal chips in the

transmission.

 

                          HARD BONES

Could be a short circuit.

 

                              FOX

(shaking his head ruefully)

It's your call, Hard Bones.

 

Suddenly, a red hydraulic light lights up.

 

                          FOX (cont)

Number two hydraulic system out!

 

Fox motions to the door gunner. 

 

EXT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

Kool-Aid sticks his head out the door into the slipstream, looks to the rear and sees hydraulic fluid squirting from the cowling. 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

He ducks back inside and YELLS above the sound of the chopper.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hydraulic fluid leaking!

 

                           GREENWOOD           

              We're taking too many hits!  Larson,

for Christ sakes, get these goddamn

cuffs off me!

 

                            LARSON

(ignoring Greenwood)

I think you should...I am ordering

you to head back!

 

Hard Bones Haggerty maintains his insouciant attitude. 

 

 

EXT. VIETNAM - DAY

 

The helicopter begins its near-suicidal dive, swooping noisily and erratically toward the target area again like an enraged, wounded eagle.  Again the gunship lets loose on the VC and again the ground explodes sending up bits of huts, men and animals.  Suddenly, there is the SOUND of a loud ROAR sending an incredibly strong vibration through the chopper.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

                              FOX

What the hell was that?

 

                          HARD BONES

Nothing I ever heard before!

 

The swirling dust from the ground thickens, almost blinding the crew.  Within seconds the day darkens.  There is an enormous ROAR of wind.  The badly vibrating helicopter is almost helplessly spun about as it seems to be getting sucked into some kind of irresistible whirlpool. 

 

Hard Bones fights desperately to control the Huey while the others do their best to brace themselves.  In the cockpit, levers, switches, buttons, circuit breakers and antitorque pedals are pushed to no avail.  The entire instrument panel warning system is now lighting up in meaningless flashes of red, yellow and green.  Gage indicator needles are spinning out of control.  Live ammunition, brass cartridges, and other items in the cargo area have broken free and are flying about.

 

                       HARD BONES (cont)

Instruments have gone crazy!

 

FX: The howling ROAR increases in volume.  It is deafening. Kool-Aid pulls a vial of pills from a pocket of his fatigue shirt.  He hurriedly takes one and replaces the vial.  Greenwood and Larson jam their thumbs into their ears against the ROAR.

 

EXT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

The blackness surrounding the bucking chopper is total, eerie and unnatural.  For a few quick seconds, an intense, blinding white light dispels the darkness and the craft seems almost aglow, suspended in time and space.  Then, as the darkness returns, the helicopter seems to be traveling at incredible speed through a narrow tunnel. 

 

Again, for only a few seconds, the intense white light dispels the darkness and the helicopter is suspended in time and space.  Then, again, darkness returns.

 

Gradually, the ROARING stops, and the black smoke about the Huey begins to dissipate.

 

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

The worst of the vibration ceases.  The crew members are obviously very shaken by the experience.

 

                              FOX

What happened?  I feel like

I've been mugged.

 

                          HARD BONES

If that's a new weapon,

Charlie's won this war.

 

                              FOX

Hard Bones!  Look out!

 

COCKPIT'S POV - Just as the mist parts Hard Bones realizes he is heading directly for a mountain formation and immediately pulls up.  As they climb, the chopper vibrates dangerously.  Hard Bones is having trouble controlling it.  FX: It is beginning to SOUND like a machine straining to fly apart. 

 

EXT. CHOPPER FLYING THROUGH MOUNTAINS - DAY

 

The day is again perfectly clear.  They are still flying over mountains but these are completely unlike anything they've ever seen.  These mountains seem to rise unnaturally straight out of the ground in a series of bizarre limestone formations. 

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

                              FOX

Where in God's name are we?

 

Hard Bones flicks switches and checks gages.  Needles are no longer spinning but they also don't move.  Only the two original warning lights are on.  He reconnects the circuit breaker.

 

                          HARD BONES

Dragon base, this is Dragon seven.

Do you copy?  Over...Dragon base,

this is Dragon seven.  Do you copy? 

 

His gloved hand grabs the cyclic and squeezes the radio trigger switch several times.  There is no click in his ear.  Fox tries a few more buttons and switches to no avail.  He reaches into a compartment and pulls out a map.

 

                       HARD BONES (cont)

Instruments are out.  Radios are

out.  I don't think I can stabilize

this baby much longer.  If I try for

altitude, it wants to shake apart.

We'll have to put her down. 

 

                              FOX

(studying map)

Not one thing down there matches

with anything on here.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Maybe they made the map during the

monsoon.  When the waters are down

it's all different.

 

                              FOX

Negative, Kool-Aid!  I don't know where

the hell we are, but I guarantee

wherever it is isn't on this map.

 

 

EXT. TERRAIN - DAY

 

As the chopper approaches a narrow river, it comes upon a cluster of sampans and a junk with huge butterfly-wing sails.  Men along the shore as well as on the junk look up at the chopper in pure panic.  Most run in panic.  Some jump into the river.  A few kneel and kowtow as the chopper passes overhead.

 

The chopper passes over another boat, long and narrow - a "scrambling dragon" - with enormous sails.  Over two dozen brightly dressed oarsmen are seated on low benches along the port side and another equal number of men are plying their huge oars at starboard.  Many dive into the water in terror. 

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

                           KOOL-AID

What do you make of that?

 

                          HARD BONES

I dunno.  VC haven't run away

from a chopper since the begin-

ning of the war.

 

                              FOX

Maybe they heard Hard Bones Haggerty

himself was flying it.

 

                            WIZARD

Look! 

 

EXT. TERRAIN - DAY

 

On a hillside is an ancient pagoda, its crumbling brick base overrun with weeds.  As the chopper approaches, the remains of a burned-out village is visible.  A few houses with dried brick walls and hipped tile roofs are smoldering but still standing.  Bodies are lying on the ground.  Vendors' baskets and farm implements lie overturned and abandoned in the dirt.

 

 

As the chopper banks over a patchwork quilt of green and yellow ricefields, several terrified farmers either dive for cover or run in complete panic.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

                           KOOL-AID

Did you see those rice paddy

daddies?  They act like they

never seen a chopper before!

 

                            LARSON

I don't know where we are but when

we get back I think you may be

faced with a court martial for-

 

                          HARD BONES

Roger that, son!  But first we'll

have to land and check the damage.

 

                            LARSON

How'd it get so cold in here?

 

Kool-Aid stares at the sun's position in the sky and checks his watch.  He speaks to the crew chief.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hey, Wizard, what time you got?

 

                            WIZARD

What time I got!?  Fuck you care

what time I got, Kool-Aid?  You

got a train to catch?

 

                           KOOL-AID

Well, maybe it don't matter.  But

before the storm, the sun was

rising over there.

 

                            WIZARD

So what's the problem?

 

                           KOOL-AID

Well, the problem is now it's

setting over there!

 

As the men react and look toward the sun, the helicopter begins to shudder dangerously.  Hard Bones motions Fox toward a small clearing on a low plateau.  The only occupants of the plateau are sheep and goats. 

 

In a SERIES OF SHOTS, Hard Bones fights with the heavily vibrating controls to guide the disabled chopper into the landing zone (LZ).

 

 

 

EXT. TERRAIN - DAY

 

The Huey's rotor wash presses blades of grass to the earth and sends dust and leaves swirling about the LZ. 

 

The chopper flares as it decelerates, lands bumpily on the heels of its skids and then glides several yards to a sudden halt sending sheep and goats running for their lives.

 

The men in the cockpit quickly unbuckle their safety harnesses.  Everyone exits the chopper and hits the ground running.  Larson and Fox move about the helicopter with their .45 pistols drawn and ready. 

 

Greenwood seems to be calculating the odds on an escape attempt. While the others inspect the perimeter of the clearing, he moves out of the line of sight of either Hard Bones or Wizard.

 

POV - LARSON AND FOX

 

To their south and west, beyond a field of waist-high grass,  there is a forest of banyan trees.  In the distance, rocky slopes tumble downward, one after the other, leading to the South China Sea.  To the north and east are rugged hills rising in the distance into mountains.  A steep cliff between their position and the next hill offers them some protection on that side.

 

EXT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

Greenwood edges away from the helicopter. 

 

Kool-Aid notices Greenwood and jumps into the helicopter's cargo compartment from the other side.  He quickly extracts an M-16,  inserts a clip and sights on Greenwood.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hey, white boy!  You gonna make

my day?  

 

                           GREENWOOD

(smirking)

Maybe when I get these off.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Get your ass back here.  Now!

 

Hard Bones and Wizard climb to the roof of the Huey, first to look about the LZ, then to check the chopper for damage.  Kool-Aid moves out to join Fox as Larson returns to guard Greenwood.  Greenwood smirks and lies down on the ground, resting his head against a helicopter skid, his hat over his eyes, at peace with the world.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Anything?

 

 

                              FOX

Nothing I can see.  But I don't

like it.  This place is spooky.

 

                           KOOL-AID

'Nam always spooky.

 

                              FOX

Not like this. 

 

                           KOOL-AID

You think Charlie saw us comin'

in?

 

                              FOX

I don't know.  If he did, we'll

know about it soon enough.  Come

on, let's check those trees out.

 

They walk cautiously toward the banyan trees, single file, weapons at the ready. 

 

EXT. AMONG THE TREES - DAY 

 

The banyan trees are incredible in size and girth.  There are hundreds of thick columns towering high above the two men. 

 

Dozens of fear-filled Asians are hiding in the tall grass and behind the trees.  Among them is a young boy about 17 years old. He stands beside a very elderly man with a Ho Chi Minh-type beard.  They are wide-eyed at the approach of the two men and very much afraid. Kool-Aid and Fox are very near.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hold on a second.  I got to

make an unscheduled stop.

 

Kool-Aid unbuttons his fatigue trousers and is just stepping behind a bush when Fox and Kool-Aid both see the boy and the old man simultaneously.  In a knee-jerk response, Fox raises his .45 and fires a round but before he can fire another, Kool-Aid knocks the .45 lower with his rifle barrel.  The shot has not hit anything but the Asians in the trees and in the grass begin SCREAMING and CRYING and running about.

 

                           KOOL-AID

(buttoning up)

Cool it!  (to the Asians)  All

right, get out of there! 

(gesturing)  Move!  Di-di mau!

 

Dozens of Asians, mostly men, move out of the trees.  They range in age from child to elderly.  Although some are wearing decent outer robes, most are poorly dressed in threadbare jackets and baggy trousers and are barefoot.  Many are carrying their possessions on bamboo poles as well as (unlit) lanterns.  Some of the men have flintlocks or matchlocks or swords or spears.

Each Asian male has most of the crown of his head shaved except for the braided queue hanging down at the back, i.e. the pigtail. They move toward an increasingly tense Kool-Aid and Fox and surround the two men but suddenly all kneel and kowtow on hands and knees, offering up their weapons.                       

 

                              FOX

What the hell?

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hey!  Knock that shit off!  Get

up!  Yeah, up!  Now, move it!

 

Kool-Aid motions for them to move toward the helicopter.

 

                              FOX

I never saw Dinks dressed like

that.  They got pigtails!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Must be some Dink festival bullshit.

 

As they approach the helicopter, Hard Bones and Wizard have already grabbed their weapons and climbed down.   

 

 

EXT. HELICOPTER LANDING SITE - DAY

 

                          HARD BONES

What have we here?  A costume ball?

 

                           KOOL-AID

I found a reception committee in

the woods.

 

                            WIZARD

Come on, Hard Bones, you're the

linguist.  Talk to them.

 

                              FOX

He's a Chink lingy; not a Dink lingy.

 

                          HARD BONES

They don't look Vietnamese, Fox.

 

Hard Bones SPEAKS to the men in Vietnamese.  There is no response.  Then he SPEAKS in Chinese mandarin.  One of the men RESPONDS in Cantonese.

 

                              FOX

What's the matter?

 

                          HARD BONES

He doesn't speak Vietnamese.

 

                           KOOL-AID

So what does he speak?

                          HARD BONES

Chinese.

 

                            WIZARD

So ask the Dink why he doesn't

speak Dinkenese.

 

                          HARD BONES

How am I supposed to ask him?

 

                            WIZARD

You learned Chinese in Taiwan,

right? 

 

                          HARD BONES

I learned mandarin; he's speak-

ing Cantonese.

 

                              FOX

Motherfuck.

 

Suddenly the old man with the boy SPEAKS to Hard Bones in mandarin.  They CONVERSE in mandarin.  As everyone's attention is completely on what is happening they fail to notice Greenwood's movements.  Their CONVERSATION in mandarin is O.S.

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

Despite his handcuffs, Greenwood manages to reach a knife inside a rucksack torn open during the storm.  He slips it inside his boot and quickly jumps from the cargo door to the ground. 

 

EXT. HELICOPTER LANDING SITE - DAY

 

Greenwood walks slowly back to the group as Hard Bones turns to his crew to translate.

 

                          HARD BONES

He said, why should they speak Vietnamese?

 

                           KOOL-AID

Oh, shit.  You telling me we

not still in the 'nam!?

 

During this dialogue, the teenage boy very hesitantly steps forward toward Kool-Aid - one cautious step at a time.

 

                          HARD BONES

He says we're in southern China. 

Kwangtung Province. 

 

                           KOOL-AID

(popping another pill)

China?!  I got R&R in Bangkok

Monday morning and you're sayin'

you flew us into China?!

 

                          HARD BONES

He says we're near the coast.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Great.  I can swim to Bangkok.

 

                            WIZARD

That's bull!  No way we could have

flown that far!  We didn't even

have the fuel for that kind of trip.

 

Fox looks at his watch.

 

                              FOX

Ask the old man what day it is.

 

                          HARD BONES

I did.

 

                              FOX

So, what'd he say?

 

Hard Bones hesitates.

 

                          HARD BONES

You're not gonna like it.

 

                              FOX

Try me.

 

                          HARD BONES

He said, it's the 12th day of the 2nd

moon of the 7th year of Hsien Feng.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Say what?!

 

                          HARD BONES

Hsien Feng was a Chinese emperor

in the Ch'ing Dynasty.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Say what?!

 

                          HARD BONES

In the 1850's, I think.  Or, there-

abouts.  Anyway, he wants to know

if we're gods. 

 

                           KOOL-AID

                       (to the old man)

I'm God; these assholes are impostors!

Translate that!

 

                          HARD BONES

I told him we're men from across the

sea.  So he wants to know which

tribute-bearing nation we're from and

if it's true our emperor is a woman. 

 

                           KOOL-AID

Ask him what kind of acid he's

on and if he wants to sell some.

 

                          HARD BONES

He must mean Queen Victoria.  That

means he thinks we're English.

 

                           GREENWOOD

I say we blast the fuckers.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah, sure; destroy what you don't

understand, right, Greenwood?

 

                           GREENWOOD

Works for me.

 

Fox takes a musket from one of the Chinese and looks it over.  He looks out at the other muskets the men are holding.

 

                              FOX

These are flintlocks!  And matchlocks!

And this is a wheelock!  These are

antiques!  They're beautiful! 

 

The boy is near Kool-Aid but he seems almost hypnotized while looking at him. 

 

He hesitates then cautiously reaches out and touches the back of Kool-Aid's hand then looks at his own finger.

 

Kool-Aid then hesitantly reaches out and touches the boy's hand and then looks at his own finger and gives an expression of mock horror.  The boy is torn between fear and laughter.  Finally, overcoming his fear, he laughs.

 

                              BOY

Mastah, you numba one first

chop!  How you dooa?  My chin-

chin you werry fine day.   

 

                           KOOL-AID

Huh?  'How I dooa?'  What planet

you from?

 

As the boy reaches out his hands, Kool-Aid reaches out to shake but the boy holds onto his own hands, and "chin-chins" Kool-Aid traditional Chinese style, holding one fist inside the other and bowing. Kool-Aid is left with his hand out and his mouth open.

 

                              BOY

Mastah, no savvy my? 

 

                           KOOL-AID

What language is he talking now?

 

                          HARD BONES

Pidgin English.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Pidgin what?

 

                              BOY

                        (to Hardbones)

How many piecey man hab got come

this side? 

 

Hard Bones is clearly excited by what is happening.

 

                          HARD BONES

Six piecey man hab got come this side!

 

                              BOY

What for you makee so fashion

come China in flying dragon ship? 

 

                          HARD BONES

Uh, no savvy.  Muchee no savvy how

we makee so fashion come China!

 

                              BOY

OK.  (to Kool-Aid)  Mastah, my tink you

numba one first chop!  My chin-chin

you, one good flen, take care for you. 

 

                          HARD BONES

He wants to be your friend. 

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah, I think I'm gonna be needin' some.

 

                          HARD BONES

My God, pidgin English is how the foreigners

in China communicated with the Chinese for

hundreds of years!  And he speaks it! 

 

                              FOX

So?

 

                          HARD BONES

So we're really here!

 

                           GREENWOOD

Where?!

 

                          HARD BONES

The Ch'ing Dynasty! 

                           KOOL-AID

Fuck me silly with an Easter lily!

 

                          HARD BONES

Somehow we've flown into the past!

I knew that storm wasn't natural!

 

                              FOX          

Boo coo (beaucoup) dinky dau!

 

                            WIZARD

Roger that.

 

                              FOX          

We're not goin' anywhere if we

don't get this chopper fixed. 

 

                            WIZARD

Right.  So maybe we should stow the

bullshit and get to work.  When and

if we get it fixed then we can worry

about where we are and when we are.

 

                          HARD BONES

Kool-Aid, you and Fox check out

the perimeter.  And watch your asses.

Wizard will check on the chopper. 

I'll interrogate these people and try

to make some sense of this.

 

                            LARSON

What about me?

 

                          HARD BONES

I want you to check out the pagoda.

That'll be our observation post.

 

                            LARSON

What about him?

 

                     HARD BONES

Secure your prisoner temporarily

to the skid.  Fox, check out

the baggage compartment.  Should

be some military gear in there

we can use.

 

Suddenly, one of the Chinese notices the dragon painting on the nose of the helicopter and excitedly CALLS to the others.  They approach the nose and immediately fall to their hands and knees, this time kowtowing the "dragon" helicopter itself.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Oh, shit.  Here we go again.

 

Some of the Chinese search under the chopper.  One asks Hard Bones a question in mandarin. 

                           KOOL-AID

               Now what?

 

                          HARD BONES

                They want to know if it’s

                male or female.

 

Reaction shot: KOOL-AID

 

EXT. LANDING ZONE - NIGHT

 

In the foreground, at the edge of the landing zone, Larson is sitting on a rock eating from a C-ration can.  In the background, others are busy about the helicopter or also eating from C-ration cans.  Wizard is reading his Bible by lantern light.  Two Chinese villagers with lanterns and flintlocks have been posted at the highest lookout of the pagoda.

 

Hard Bones is sitting on the ground near the chopper still CONVERSING in mandarin with the old man.  The Chinese have formed a semi-circle around him.  Their lanterns have been lit.  The men also have a fire going.

 

Except for Greenwood, the men are now dressed in full combat gear.  Bandoliers of M-16 ammunition clips are slung diagonally across chests, smoke grenade canisters and baseball grenades are clipped to waists. 

 

Bands tied about camouflage helmets hold such items as insect repellent, spoons, and packs of matches.  Survival knives are sheathed at their belts.  Rucksacks and M-16s are nearby on the cargo deck.

 

In the grass near the MP, we hear the SOUND of someone urinating. We then see the head and shoulders of Kool-Aid above some bushes.

 

                            LARSON

I never heard anyone piss for five

minutes before.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Do you realize that the Budweiser I drank

in the 20th century I am now pissing out

in the 19th century?  This piss is

straddling two centuries!  In reverse!

 

The SOUND stops and then Kool-Aid appears, doing up his fly.  He sits on a nearby rock and picks up his own C-ration can and continues eating.  Larson is watching Hard Bones.

 

                            LARSON

Why do you call him "Hard Bones"?

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hard Bones?  'Cause every time he

gets shot down he breaks another

bone.  The Wizard got his name

'cause he can fix anything.  The

man is a genius.  Fox is Fox; loves

guns the way I love women. 

 

                            LARSON

And 'Kool-Aid' because you're cool

under fire?

 

                           KOOL-AID

No, my man.  They's having a bit

of fun with that one.  'Cause they

know I tend to get my balls in an

uproar under fire.

 

Kool-Aid finishes his food and, while talking, rolls and lights up a joint.  He offers a hit to Larson who refuses.

 

KOOL-AID

Anyway, don't you worry, my man.

Hard Bones got us out of worse

scrapes than this.

 

                            LARSON

You like him, don't you?

 

                           KOOL-AID

Like?  Try 'respect.'  That white

boy just happens to be the bravest

son-of-a-bitch I ever met.  Even

among chopper pilots he's rumored

to be totally stark-raving mad. 

 

                            LARSON

And that's a compliment?

 

                           KOOL-AID

They don't come any higher, my man.

 

Hard Bones leaves the Chinese and moves over to sit with Kool-Aid.  He motions to Wizard and Fox to join them.   

 

                          HARD BONES

All right, listen up.  For tonight,

we'll put out guards and some trip

flares.  Tomorrow, Wizard will tell

us how long he needs to fix the chopper.

 

                            WIZARD

If it can be fixed, I said.

 

                          HARD BONES

Right.  If it can be fixed.  While

he's working on that, the rest of

us will have a chat with some people

about a misunderstanding.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Uh, oh. 

 

                          HARD BONES

Just talk I said.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah, that's what you said just before

the last three bar fights we been in.

 

                          HARD BONES

  (gesturing toward the Chinese)

These people live in the burned out

village we saw from the air.  Pirates

have been demanding money from them

for years.  They've been paying it.

This morning they tried to fight

back.  They lost.  Badly.

 

                              FOX

So that's why they're hiding in

the woods.

 

                          HARD BONES

That's why they're hiding in the woods. 

So I promised tomorrow we would escort

them to their village and have a chit-

chat with the pirates.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Man, I'm going on R&R to Bangkok on

Monday;  I got no time to be messin'

about with pirates.

 

                          HARD BONES

Don't worry.  As soon as we can get out

of here we're out of here.  I don't want

to get involved in local disputes any

more than you do.

 

                              FOX

No law around here?

 

                          HARD BONES

The old man says the local magistrate is

paid off by the pirates; so he sends the

heads of villagers to Peking claiming they're pirates.

That's how he gets promoted.

 

                              FOX

Whew!  Nice place to visit but I sure

wouldn't want to live here!

 

                            LARSON

How can you people take this so lightly?  We

may have actually traveled through time!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Don't sweat the small stuff, kid.

Just so long as the Army finds a

way to get my pay check to me, I

don't really give a shit about

the rest of it.

 

                            WIZARD

I still don't understand what the

hell happened to us.

 

                           KOOL-AID

I think we fell into a wormhole.

 

                            WIZARD

A what?

 

                           KOOL-AID

You know, the way gravity bends

time and space into black holes and

shit.  But with wormholes, it's like

a worm on an apple, only instead

of goin' around the apple, we burrowed

through it.  Into a different time

and space.  Now we got to burrow the

fuck out of it!

 

                            WIZARD

I think Kool-Aid 's got a wormhole up

his ass.

 

                           KOOL-AID

My mama always told me, 'Never talk

philosophy with a cracker.'

 

                            WIZARD

Who you calling 'cracker,' spearchucker?

 

Both men get up and walk toward each other, seriously angry.

 

                           KOOL-AID

I'm callin' you 'cracker,' numbnuts.

 

                            WIZARD

How'd you like to bite my ass?

 

                           KOOL-AID

You'll have to move your nose

over first.

Just as they begin pushing one another, Hard Bones interferes.

 

                          HARD BONES

Gentlemen, the Civil War hasn't

even started yet, so could you

cool the bullshit.

 

                           KOOL-AID

I think this bullshit is just

some goddamn dream you having!

 

                          HARD BONES

Me?!  Why is it my dream?

 

                           KOOL-AID

'Cause you the one that loves this shit.

 

                          HARD BONES

What shit?

 

                           KOOL-AID

Chinese shit!  You studied it and

you wanted to see it.  So now I'm

caught up in some goddamn fantasy

of yours and I want you to wake the

fuck up so I can get the fuck out!

 

                              FOX

Maybe it's like the guy in "Manchurian

Candidate." 

 

                            WIZARD

You sayin' we been brainwashed?

 

                              FOX

Yeah.  We must have been captured in

'nam, and Charlie brainwashed us into

thinking we're in China.  In the past. 

 

                           KOOL-AID

You sayin' we're being mindfucked by

the Dinks to think we're with the Chinks?

 

                              FOX

Yeah!

 

                           KOOL-AID

What the fuck for?

 

                              FOX

How do I know what the fuck for?  I'm

not Charlie!

 

                          HARD BONES

Gentlemen, I think we're all a little

on edge here.  Let's call it a night. 

 

                           GREENWOOD

I'll take first watch.

 

                           KOOL-AID

That's real funny, Greenwood.  But

I intend to guard you myself.

 

                            LARSON

My prisoner is my responsibility! 

I'll watch him.

 

Hard Bones hesitates, then reluctantly nods his head.

 

                          HARD BONES

All right, you guard him.  Just make

sure he's cuffed at all times.

 

EXT. LANDING ZONE - NIGHT

 

A camp fire smolders.  A figure approaches Kool-Aid as Kool-Aid is almost asleep.  Kool-Aid draws his .45 and grabs the intruder. It is the boy.

 

                              BOY          

Mastah, my one good flen you.

 

                           KOOL-AID

You one good flen me?  Ok.  I one

good flen you.  Just don't creep up

on me like that. 

 

Kool-Aid releases the boy and sits up.  The boy sits down beside him. Kool-Aid lowers his voice.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hey, kid, you got any sisters?

 

                              BOY

Hab got one piecey sist.  Beforetime

hab got two piecey sist.  Baba no hab

dollar; he sell sist for catchee chow.

 

                           KOOL-AID

One of your sisters was sold for food?!

 

                              BOY

Yes, mastah.  Now here hab too muchee

fightee - too littee chow.  Pirates

velly bad heart.  One piecey sist

fightee too muchee!  Kill Many!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Your sister is fighting the pirates?

 

                              BOY

Yes, mastah.  She here somewhere.

 

Hard Bones, lying near Kool-Aid, rolls over to face them.

 

                          HARD BONES

So where's your parents?  You know, mama-baba.

 

                              BOY

Them catchee die.  Pirates - too muchee

bad heart man - makee them catchee die.

 

                          HARD BONES

Well, tomorrow we go see pirates.

Maybe we makee them catchee die.

 

                              BOY

My too muchee thankee you.

 

Kool-Aid stares at Pidgin.

                           KOOL-AID

I think 'Pidgin' is just the

right name for you.  OK with you?

 

                            PIDGIN

Yes, mastah.  And 'spose you

wanchee any first chop t'ing,

my can catchee for you!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Great!  You catchee me the fuck outta here

and I catchee you boo coo dollars.

 

                          HARD BONES

You still don't get it, do you?

 

                           KOOL-AID

Get what?

 

                          HARD BONES

You don't have any money.

 

Kool-Aid reaches into his pocket and pulls out a wad of Vietnamese piasters and military payment certificates.

 

                           KOOL-AID

So what do you call this?

 

Hard Bones grabs the money and flips through it. 

 

                          HARD BONES

There isn't any Vietnam yet, Ice

Man.  Just independent kingdoms.

This is play money, you get it?

Funny money - and the people

who authorized it haven't been

born yet.

 

Hard Bones tears up the money and it flutters off in the wind.

 

REACTION SHOT - KOOL-AID

 

                           KOOL-AID

I think I'm gonna be sick.

 

                          HARD BONES

Be sick in the morning.  Let's

get some sleep.

 

INT. HELICOPTER CARGO FLOOR - NIGHT

 

Greenwood and Larson are preparing their ponchos for bed. 

Greenwood is having difficulty because of the handcuffs.

 

                           GREENWOOD

Come on, man, at least let me sleep

without these damn things on!

                            LARSON

No way. 

 

                           GREENWOOD

Larson, we're surrounded by people!  I'm

not goin' anywhere.  And I'm not about to

leave the chopper!  What if we're attacked

and you're hit?!  I'm a sitting duck who

can't even fight for his life!

 

Larson hesitates.

 

                       GREENWOOD (cont)

Jesus Christ, man, I haven't even

been found guilty of anything yet!

 

Larson takes out his key and unlocks the cuffs. 

 

                            LARSON

You even so much as snore and I'll

slap these back on you.

 

Greenwood rubs his wrists, then rolls over to sleep facing away from Larson.

 

                           GREENWOOD

Hey, thanks, man.  Now let's grab

some shuteye when we can.  Charlie'll

probably attack at dawn.

 

                            LARSON

Charlie!?  You still think we're

in the 'nam?!

 

                           GREENWOOD

Damn right I still think we're

in the 'nam.  I'll believe pirates

when I see them.  Just like Charlie

to come up with some trick to

mindfuck us.

                                 

Larson also settles down to sleep, his .45 near his hand.

 

CLOSE SHOT - GREENWOOD'S EYES

 

                                                      CUT TO:

                              

CLOSE SHOT - A HAND REACHING FOR KOOL-AID'S EAR - DAY

 

Kool-Aid, in sleep, brushes it away.  The hand tugs his ear harder.  As Kool-Aid SPEAKS he is still more asleep than awake and is in the midst of a sensual dream.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah, baby; later, baby.  You had

enough now, you hear?  Don't be

greedy.  Ole Kool-Aid need his sleep.

Again the hand tugs his ear. Kool-Aid wakes up.  He turns quickly to see Pidgin staring at him wide-eyed.

 

                            PIDGIN

Mastah!  You looksee!  Hab plenty

much trouble!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Whoa!  Slow down.  What trouble?

 

                            PIDGIN

You looksee!  One piecey man hab die!

 

Kool-Aid and Hard Bones jump up.

 

                          HARD BONES

One piecey-man have die?!  What man?

 

                            PIDGIN

Flen you inside flying dragon ship

catchee die!

 

EXT. LANDING ZONE - EARLY MORNING

 

                           KOOL-AID

My friend died?

 

                            PIDGIN

Bad heart man makee him catchee die!

 

They rush to the helicopter.  What they see on the cargo floor stops them in their tracks.

 

POV - HARD BONES and KOOL-AID

 

The body of Larson is lying across the cargo floor.  His throat has been cut and his eyes are open in death.  Blood has pooled beside his head.  His .45 is missing.  So are his ears.

 

 

INT. - HELICOPTER - DAY

 

As the men jump on board, Fox and Wizard rush up.  While Kool-Aid closes Larson's eyes, Hard Bones looks over the chopper.

 

                            PIDGIN

He no 'cassion makee so fashion!

No b'long reason.

 

                          HARD BONES

Some ammo missing.  M-16!  .45! 

grenades!  Jesus!  The starlight

scope's gone!

 

                           KOOL-AID

If that sucker got the scope, he

owns the night.

 

                          HARD BONES

It's my fault.  I never should have left

the kid alone with Greenwood.

 

                            PIDGIN

He allo same bad heart pirate-man.  My t'ink

bad heart man walkee chop chop pirate ship-side. 

 

                              FOX

Great!  Greenwood joined the pirates.

 

                            WIZARD

So that evens up the odds.

 

                          HARD BONES

I'm afraid it more than evens up

the odds.  Greenwood is a LRRP, a

hunter-killer who didn't care in

'nam who he killed.  He enjoyed it

and he was good at it.  He killed

ARVN troops for the fun of it and

when his own patrol leader tried

to stop him, he killed him.  

 

                            WIZARD

You think he'll try to destroy

the chopper?

 

                          HARD BONES

No.  He wants that for his own.  So

you can be sure he'll be back to get

it.  It's us he'll try to destroy. 

We'll have to post guards, use

passwords and clear the grass around

the LZ.  And we'll have to put out

Claymores, flares, trip wires and

any tricks we learned from Charlie.

 

                              FOX

Punji traps?!

 

                          HARD BONES

Yep.  He'll dig his, we'll dig ours.

 

EXT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

The men exit the chopper.  Wizard walks around the helicopter checking it.  During the following dialogue, he finds scattered tools and an overturned tool box near the chopper.  Fox gestures toward the Chinese now crowded around the helicopter.

 

                              FOX

What about them?

 

                           HARDBONES

They'll have to wait.  First we

prepare our defenses, and then

we go after Greenwood.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Go after Greenwood?!  I thought

you said you didn't want to get

involved.

 

                          HARD BONES

Greenwood killed a man on board

my chopper.  That makes it personal.

 

Kool-Aid GROANS.

 

                              FOX

What's your problem?

 

                           KOOL-AID

Every time he says it's 'personal'

the shit hits the fan.

 

                              FOX

You don't want to live forever,

do you?

 

                           KOOL-AID

I hope to shit in your mess kit

I want to live forever! 

 

                            WIZARD

I reckon there's another reason

we'll be going after Greenwood. 

 

The others follow Wizard's gaze to the rotor head.

 

                          HARD BONES

Jesus Christ!  He stole one of

the pitch change links.

 

                            WIZARD

That he did; and without that, we

won't be goin' nowhere.

 

As the men attempt to absorb this disastrous news, the Chinese old man stares at the MP's body and SPEAKS.

 

                              FOX

What's he sayin'?

 

                          HARD BONES

He says, whoever we are, we're

not gods.

 

Suddenly, Hard Bones spots something toward the jungle.  Everyone now turns in that direction. 

CREW'S POV

 

About two dozen Chinese warriors are walking toward them under silk banners fluttering in the breeze.  They are a small part of a Taiping Army, Christian Chinese rebels.  The four Chinese characters on their stylish, close-fitting, green-and-yellow uniforms mean "Great Peace Holy Warrior." 

 

They are wearing turbans and sashes at their waists matching their dress.  They are carrying bow-and-arrows and the leaders have flintlock pistols tucked into their sashes.  Their tight-fitting garments clearly reveal the swelling of the breasts.  They are, in fact, unintentionally quite sexy. 

 

It is one of the Taiping companies composed solely of:

 

EXT. LANDING ZONE - DAY

 

                           KOOL-AID

Women!

 

                          HARD BONES

Jesus Christ!  They're Taipings!

 

Kool-Aid begins running toward the Taipings.

 

                       HARD BONES (cont)

Kool-Aid, wait!  Taiping women warriors

are fierce!  They might-

 

                           KOOL-AID

It's all right.  Old Kool-Aid got

a way with women!  (to the Tai-

pings)  Hey, girls!  Hey, over here.

 

Several arrows are shot into the dirt inches from Kool-Aid's feet, effectively tripping him to his knees. 

 

                        KOOL-AID (cont)

OK, OK!  First dates always make

me nervous too!  Just unbend the

bows a bit, will you?

 

Hard Bones and the others move forward with weapons at the ready. There is a dangerous stand-off.  Pidgin SHOUTS to the gorgeous leader of the Chinese who is training her bow-and-arrow on Hard Bones; Pidgin then SHOUTS to Hard Bones in Chinese.

 

                          HARD BONES

He says these are Taiping women

warriors fighting against the Manchu

emperor.  They came to protect the

village.  The leader is Pidgin's sister.

 

                              FOX

What do we do?

 

                          HARD BONES

The way to handle a woman is to impress

her right off the bat.  Leave this to me.

           

Hard Bones shoulders his M-16 and draws his pistol. 

 

                       HARD BONES (cont)

Kool-Aid, you got your fatigue cap in

your pocket?

 

                           KOOL-AID

My cap?  Yeah, I got my cap; what

about it?

 

                          HARD BONES

Throw it into the air.

 

                           KOOL-AID

I already used it for target practice in

'nam.  It's already got bullet holes in it.

 

                          HARD BONES

You know that and I know that; she

doesn't know that.

 

Kool-Aid shrugs and throws the cap into the air.  Hard Bones fires three times.  Pidgin grabs the hat and hands it to his sister.  The hat has five bullet holes in it.  Hard Bones smugly holsters his gun and crosses his arms.

 

Pidgin's sister motions for another warrior to fling one of the banners into the air.  She does so and the woman quickly lets fly the first arrow and with amazing speed strings her bow again, fires, strings her bow again and fires.  Each arrow pierces the banner and keeps it in the air.  When it comes down, Pidgin runs with it and hands it to Hard Bones.  The arrows have formed a perfect triangle in the center of the banner.  Pidgin's sister smugly replaces her bow in its case and crosses her arms.

                           KOOL-AID

You sure handled her.

 

                              FOX

Yeah.  I've never seen a woman

so impressed.

 

                          HARD BONES

I hate show-offs.

 

                            PIDGIN

One piecey sist name Ai-ling. 

She no likkee foreign man; all

bringee muchee yapien into China.

 

                          HARD BONES

Well, you tell your sister we

don't have any opium.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Roger that.  A bit of marijuana,

maybe, and some uppers and downers,

and a very minor quantity of LSD,

but opium, hell no!

 

Hard Bones motions for his men to holster or sling their weapons. Pidgin's sister does the same with her women warriors.  The Taipings then join the villagers who supply them with food and drink.  Wizard speaks while Hard Bones and Pidgin's sister still stare warily at one another even as she joins the villagers.

 

                            WIZARD

What do you think?

 

                          HARD BONES

I think an enemy of my enemy is

my friend.  We can use each other.

 

Hard Bones smiles and waves to Ai-ling while she drinks; she stares at him with wary eyes.

 

                              FOX

When do we go after Greenwood?

 

                          HARD BONES

First we prepare our own defenses

in case he strikes first.  But

right now we've got a grave to dig.

 

EXT. HILLSIDE OVERLOOKING A BAY - DAY

 

Early morning.  Greenwood is standing on a hillside overlooking a three-masted pirate frigate below as its crew is haggling with local Chinese soldiers for provisions. 

 

The square-rigged ship is anchored offshore with nearly all of its 20,000 square feet of white canvas sail reefed or furled.  Colorful flags fly from its masts, including a Jolly Roger pirate ensign - a white skull and bones on a black flag.  Beneath the skull is a white hour glass.  Suddenly, we hear a VOICE behind Greenwood.

 

                         VOICE (O.S.)

Slide that rifle off your shoulder

and be real careful not to make me

trigger-happy.

 

Without turning, Greenwood does as he is told. 

 

                         VOICE (O.S.)

That's real good.  Now turn around.

Slow and easy.

 

Greenwood turns to find himself facing three Caucasian crew members from the frigate.  They are covering him with flintlock pistols.

 

                       FIRST CREW MEMBER

Who are you?

 

                           GREENWOOD

I'm a man with crates of modern wea-

pons for sale.  Your captain on board?

 

The men move forward.  One reaches to pick up Greenwood's M-16 and one moves behind him to tie him up.

 

                       FIRST CREW MEMBER

Don't you worry about where our

captain is.  But we'll take you

on board, all right. 

 

With lightning speed, Greenwood spins about, using the man behind him as a shield.  He slits his throat, and kicks the man picking up the M-16 in the face.  He spins sideways, throwing the knife into the chest of the first crew member who is trying to cover him with the pistol.  Greenwood recovers his knife and slides his M-16 back on his shoulder.

 

He reaches down, picks up a flintlock and looks it over.  He aims it at one of the moaning men.

 

                           GREENWOOD

How's this shit work?

 

He shoots one of the men in the face. 

 

                       GREENWOOD (cont)

Oops.

 

As he walks off he pulls the ring of a grenade and tosses it into the center of the three men.  He SPEAKS to himself.

                           GREENWOOD

I'll find my own way, thanks.  I

don't want to be a bother.

 

At the expected EXPLOSION Greenwood doesn't even bother to turn back.  He smiles coldly.

 

EXT. PERIPHERY OF LANDING ZONE - DAY

 

While the Taipings are talking with the displaced villagers, the helicopter crew is gathered around Larson's grave.  Hard Bones is holding Wizard's Bible.  On the wooden cross erected at the head of the grave is the inscription:

 

                         ROBERT LARSON

                          U.S. MARINE

                            B. 1947

                        D. (about) 1857

                         REST IN PEACE

 

                          HARD BONES

...Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

And may he find peace before...

he rises in eternal life...May he-

 

We suddenly HEAR an incredible (O.S.) RACKET from Chinese beating gongs, pots and pans, blowing Chinese horns and setting off firecrackers.  The crew grab their weapons. 

 

                          HARD BONES

What the hell?

 

As an unusual darkness begins to fall, they all look up at the sky.

 

POV - CREW

 

The moon is moving between the earth and the sun.  The disc of the moon gradually conceals the sun's face until its umbra passes over the landing zone creating a total eclipse.  Flaming red prominences of the sun flare violently at the periphery of the black circle of the moon.  And all around the sun, magnificent yellowish-white streams of corona stretch hundreds of thousands of miles through space in every direction.  It is dramatic, breathtaking, spectacular.

 

EXT. PERIPHERY OF LANDING ZONE - DAY

 

                            WIZARD

An eclipse.

 

The NOISE the Chinese are making grows in intensity.  Pidgin and others run to the crew while beating gongs and pots and pans.

 

                            PIDGIN

Mastah, this plenty much trouble! 

Aiyaah!  Hab got one piecee largee

dog topside catchee sun!

 

                          HARD BONES

Chinese always panic during an

eclipse.  They think some monster

is gobbling up the sun.

 

Hard Bones YELLS to them in mandarin to calm them down.  It has little effect.  Some of the Taiping women warriors shoot arrows at the sun.

 

                              FOX

I've never seen people so scared.

 

                            WIZARD

I just wish they'd stop that

damn racket!

 

Kool-Aid looks at the sun and back down to Pidgin.

 

                           KOOL-AID

(to Pidgin)

Run that by me again, my man. 

You think a dog is eating the

sun?

 

                            PIDGIN

Yes!  Velly largee dog!  He wantchee

makee chow chow!  Supposey topside

no hab sun!  Aiyaah!

 

                           KOOL-AID

You likee Kool-Aid makee the

velly largee doggie go bye bye?

 

                            PIDGIN

Yes, mastah!  Must makee fixum!

Can do?!

 

Kool-Aid raises his M-16 and aims it toward the still blackened sun.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Fuckin'-A I can do!  I'm Kool-Aid

- King of the Ch'ing.

 

Kool-Aid begins firing bursts toward the sun.

 

                          HARD BONES

Hey!  What the hell are you doing?

 

                           KOOL-AID

I'm shooting the dog's ass so

it will get the fuck away from

the sun so my Chinese compadre

will be happy again.

 

Kool-Aid continues firing.

 

                          HARD BONES

Are you nuts?!  We don't have ammo

to waste!

 

                            WIZARD

Kool-Aid is right.  No damn dog

gonna pig out on the sun while

ole Wizard is around!

 

Wizard racks his shotgun, aims at the sun and fires.

 

                         WIZARD (cont)

Take that you crass canine creep!

 

Fox aims his M-16 at the sun and begins firing.  Wizard and Kool-Aid continue to fire.

 

                              FOX

Keep your fucking paws off my

sun, you foul droppings of a

misbegotten she-pig!

 

FX: The NOISE from the three of them firing, plus gongs, horns, firecrackers and the YELLING of the Chinese is ear-splitting.

 

                          HARD BONES

What is the matter with you people?!

Are you all loony?  It's an eclipse!

 

Hard Bones watches them as they ignore him.

 

                       HARD BONES (cont)

Oh, fuck it!

 

Hard Bones pulls his .45 from his holster, grips one hand in the other, spreads his feet apart in a classic Weaver stance, aims toward the sun and begins firing. 

 

                       HARD BONES (cont)

Take that, you mangy dog!

 

As the crew continues to SCREAM insults at the celestial dog, they unleash all the firepower they've got.  Taiping arrows continue to fly.  As the umbra gives way to the penumbra and the sun begins to reappear we

 

                                                      CUT TO:

 

 

EXT. PERIPHERY OF LANDING ZONE - DAY

 

We see Hard Bones, Pidgin, Kool-Aid and the others working side-by-side with the Taipings and the villagers.  They are cutting and sharpening stakes for Punji traps, digging holes, setting the stakes upright at the bottom of the holes and covering the holes with bamboo sticks, dirt, grass and leaves.

 

In a SERIES OF SHOTS we see Pidgin and Ai-ling watching Kool-Aid, Hard Bones and Fox as they set out claymore mines and trip wires for flares.

 

Hard Bones and Kool-Aid teaching Pidgin, the Taipings and village men about modern weapons:  Pidgin shooting an M-16 for the first time and falling over backward from the force of the weapon and Hard Bones and Kool-Aid ducking for cover as the shots go wild. Kool-Aid instructing Pidgin on grenade-throwing: Pidgin throws the grenade but it lands a mere 20 yards away.  Kool-Aid grabs Pidgin and they both duck for cover as it explodes.

 

We see Ai-ling demonstrating the use of chopsticks to an incredibly clumsy Hard Bones; Pidgin teaching Kool-Aid a gambling game played with fingers and thumbs; Ai-ling teaching Hard Bones to shoot the bow-and-arrow. 

 

Children touching Hard Bones's nose and laughing at how big it is compared to theirs.  Hard Bones and Kool-Aid swinging the children.

 

Pidgin and other Chinese males staring at the nose art on the chopper, and touching, not the dragon but the woman.  Until they are shooed away by Kool-Aid.

 

The crew and some Chinese assistants working on the helicopter.  Thanks to Chinese suggestions, strips of ox-hide and bamboo are used to reinforce damaged parts, such as damaged engine cowling. One of the Chinese motions for the helicopter to fly and Wizard points to the remaining pitch change link and to where the missing pitch change link should be. 

 

Fox aiding the old man (a blacksmith) repair antique weapons with his anvil, bellows and portable forge.  The crew and villagers digging a latrine and a trenchline with the crew wearing broad-brimmed farmers hats.

 

Chinese presenting Wizard with a bamboo rod about a foot and a half long and pointing to the rotor head.

 

                           KOOL-AID

A bamboo pitch change link?!  No thanks, my man;

I'd rather die in my sleep.

 

                            WIZARD

Wait a minute!  If the chopper stays on the ground, we're not changing the pitch!

 

 

                           KOOL-AID

So?

 

                            WIZARD

So we're not putting any stress on the

pitch change link. 

 

                          HARD BONES

(studying the rod)

It just might work.

 

CLOSE UP - bamboo rod replacement for the pitch change link, held in place by tough reeds.  The blades begin moving.

 

EXT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

Crew, Taipings and Chinese surround the chopper while Kool-Aid and Pidgin sit in the cockpit checking gages which begin to respond.  Rotor blades are turning and the blades track reasonably well.  Hard Bones picks up to a hover then sets it back down.  The bamboo holds.  Everyone CHEERS.

EXT. LANDING ZONE - NIGHT

 

Everyone is together in a group cleaning and preparing weapons.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hey, how come these chicks don't

have bound feet?

 

                          HARD BONES

Taiping women didn't go in for bound feet.

 

                           KOOL-AID

That's cool, but you keep usin' the

past tense to talk about somebody

standin' in front of me and you gonna

be sending shivers down mah spine!

 

                              FOX

There it is!

 

Ai-ling cautiously sits beside Hard Bones and stares at him.  He stares back.  She SPEAKS to him in Chinese.

 

                              FOX

What'd she say?

 

                          HARD BONES

She wants to know if my eyes have

faded.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Say what?

 

                          HARD BONES

I don't think she ever saw green

eyes before.  She thinks they faded.

Hard Bones and Ai-ling are obviously smitten with each other. 

 

                           KOOL-AID

Uh, oh.  I detect a case of sexual

dynamics coming on.  Hard Bones, I

think you're in.

 

                          HARD BONES

Don't kid yourself.  Taiping women

were, sorry, are a lot more liberated

than other Chinese women but they

kill opium-smokers, prostitutes and

destroy every Buddhist temple in

sight.  They're good Christians.

 

                              FOX

They're pretty impressed with us,

though, right?

 

                          HARD BONES

In a manner of speaking.  They think

our complexion is unnaturally pale like

ghosts, our ears resemble donkeys' ears,

our noses are huge and hideous and she

says we smell worse than the Manchus

from eating too much meat.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah?  Well, happy Valentine's Day to

her too.

 

A beautiful but disheveled and wild hilltribe woman warrior moves cautiously to Kool-Aid and touches his hair with delight.  She SPEAKS excitedly in dialect to Ai-ling.  Ai-ling SPEAKS in mandarin to Hard Bones.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah, you like that, huh?  Not seen

nothin’ like that ‘round here, right? 

(To HARD BONES)

She likes that, huh?

 

                          HARD BONES

Oh, yeah.  You made a hit with

her, all Right.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Damn straight!  So what’s she sayin’?

 

                          HARD BONES

Ai-ling says she’s one of the Miao

hilltribes that collects scalps.  She

wants to know if you’re killed, if

she can have your scalp.

 

Kool-Aid jumps up.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Jesus Christ!  Get me the hell out

Of this dynasty!

 

As Hard Bones makes a face, Ai-ling LAUGHS.  Hard Bones puts his food down and reaches up to remove her Taiping scarf.  At first she resists, grabbing his wrist and pulling her knife.  But Hard Bones SPEAKS to her softly in Chinese.  She relents and he continues.  Her long hair spills out.  She SPEAKS to Hard Bones in Chinese and he looks at his watch and replies in Chinese.  She SPEAKS to the other Taipings in Chinese, gets up and grabs Hard Bones's wrist.  As he rises, she leads him into the woods.

 

                           KOOL-AID

I told you she was an easy lay, man!

 

                          HARD BONES

This doesn't make sense.  Taipings

aren't like that.

 

                              FOX

Just relax and enjoy it!

 

                           KOOL-AID

You need assistance, you just call!

 

Kool-Aid returns and sits with Fox.  Together, they watch Hard Bones and Ai-ling disappear into the darkness.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Mah mama always said, the trouble

with sexual dynamics is it can

lead to dynamic sex.

 

One of the Taiping women comes to Fox and one to Kool-Aid.  They pull them up and lead them off into the woods.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Br'er Fox, I don' know 'bout you

but I is beginning to love this

heyah Ch'ing Dynasty.

 

                              FOX

Kool-Aid, we don't get some boom

boom in the bushes with these lovely

ladies, my name isn't 'Fox.'

 

EXT. NEARBY WOODS - NIGHT

 

The Taiping women are kneeling in rows in front of a makeshift altar.  Several have Bibles.  On the altar are three cups of Holy Trinity tea, smoldering joss-sticks, candles and a large painting of Jesus' crucifixion.  Jesus is a Chinese dressed as a Taiping.

 

Ai-ling is leading the women in SINGING Christian hymns (in Chinese) and in prayer.  Hard Bones, Fox and Kool-Aid are kneeling just behind them.  Kool-Aid is holding an open Bible.  He and Fox are especially unhappy. Kool-Aid WHISPERS through clenched teeth.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Your name ain't 'Fox'.

 

EXT. LANDING ZONE - DAY

 

We see Hard Bones demonstrating his style of kung-fu to an admiring group of young Chinese men who are following his movements.  Hard Bones continues his movements as he converses.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hey, I got a question.

 

                          HARD BONES

Yeah.

 

                           KOOL-AID

You learned this kung-fu

style on Taiwan, right?

 

                          HARD BONES

Yeah. 

 

                           KOOL-AID

Well, you learned it from people who

carried on the tradition they learned

from their ancestors.  Right?

 

                          HARD BONES

Yeah.

 

                           KOOL-AID

And their ancestors are the very

people now learning it from you. 

 

                          HARD BONES

Is there a point to this?

 

                           KOOL-AID

So don't that make you both teacher

and student?  I mean, if you're

teaching it here and learning it

there, and they're learning it here

and teaching it there, then who

actually started it?  Who the fuck

learned it from who?  Where did it-

 

                          HARD BONES

Are you trying to fuck with my mind?

 

                           KOOL-AID

No, man, I just-

                          HARD BONES

Then go help Wizard and stop bullshitting!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah, sure, Hard Bones.  Take it easy.

 

CLOSE UP - HARD BONES FACE

 

Hard Bones is obviously thinking about what Kool-Aid said.

 

EXT. CLEARING - DAY

 

Kool-Aid puts his arm around Pidgin's shoulder.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Uh, Pidgin, I think it's time for

you and me to take a walk in the

woods for awhile.  People gettin'

uptight, you know what I mean?

 

                            PIDGIN

Walkee what-place?

 

                           KOOL-AID

Don't matter.  Just so long as

we shag ass outta here.

 

Kool-Aid picks up his M-16. 

 

EXT. WOODS - DAY

 

SERIES OF SHOTS: Kool-Aid and Pidgin walking through the banyan trees and waist-high grass down rocky slopes.  Within minutes they are able to see glimpses of a bay in the distance.  

 

Several Chinese villagers come running toward them SPEAKING excitedly in Chinese.  They CONVERSE with Pidgin.

 

                            PIDGIN

Ship bad heart man have come this

side!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Ship bad heart man?  You mean, the

pirates?

 

                            PIDGIN

Yes, mastah.  Chin-chin, ga-la!  We

go look-see?

 

                           KOOL-AID

Damn right we go look-see.

 

Pidgin SPEAKS to the villagers and they run off. Kool-Aid and Pidgin begin walking at a fast pace.

 

 

As they descend the mountain they soon come close to a position looking down on the bay.  Pidgin pulls Kool-Aid to the side of a trail and through some bushes.  He points to the scene below.

 

EXT. BAY - DAY

 

In the bay is the same three-masted pirate frigate as before, its sails still furled and its Jolly Roger pirate ensign still fluttering in the breeze.

 

British, American and Chinese pirates, some aloft and some on deck, are hard at work.  They respond to the orders of the captain, SHOUTING ORDERS through his speaking trumpet. 

 

Greenwood is standing next to the captain, his M-16 slung on his shoulder; grenades on his belt.

 

The ship is a floating fortress with its main deck, quarterdeck and bulwarks brimming with cannon, rockets, swivel guns, bow guns, stern chaser, etc.

 

At the bow is a rack lined with grappling hooks and boarding pikes.  In addition to the cannon on the main deck, the gun ports lining the gun deck suggest that even heavier cannon are lashed out of sight. 

 

The frigate's crew is dressed as seamen of the period and are as hardened in their way as the helicopter crew is in theirs.  The European sailors wear guernseys, denim or duck trousers and sea boots.  The Chinese sailors wear loose jackets and wide trousers. Others are wearing very little.  Most are barefoot.  

 

EXT. BUSHES - DAY

 

A wide-eyed Kool-Aid nudges Pidgin and motions for them to go.

 

As they start to run from the bush, Pidgin grabs Kool-Aid and pulls him down.  As Kool-Aid starts to protest, Pidgin covers his mouth.  He points to the path.

 

POV - KOOL-AID

 

Dozens of Chinese soldiers - Tigers of War - are walking in loose military formation.  Each man is wearing the same type of bizarre uniform:  close-fitting yellow-and-gold striped jacket and trousers, with a striped cap nearly covering the face.  Each cap snugly fits the head and ends in tiger-like ears.  Each man is armed with a sword and a bamboo shield painted to represent a fierce tiger's head with open mouth and immense teeth.

 

They look fierce but absurd.  As they pass they SPEAK and LAUGH among themselves.  They walk down the path, passing within a few yards of Kool-Aid and Pidgin, then disappear around a bend.

 

EXT. BUSHES - DAY

 

                           KOOL-AID

What the hell was that?!  Halloween?

 

                            PIDGIN

Tigers of War!  They likee fight!

More better they no can see us.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Roger, that!  Come on, let's get

outta here!

 

As they hurriedly but cautiously rush back up the path, again several dozen Tigers of War approach. Kool-Aid and Pidgin throw themselves under bushes but one of the Tigers of War has to urinate.  His release comes perilously close to Kool-Aid. 

 

                                                      CUT TO:

 

POV - HARD BONES

 

We see the frigate through binoculars.  All sails have been furled and the men on deck are attending to chores:  holystoning the deck, tarring the shrouds, refitting block-and-tackle, etc.  A few men are swimming in the water near the ship.  The pirate captain is on shore selling flintlocks and matchlocks to the Tigers of War.

 

                        KOOL-AID (V.O.)

I'm telling you the son-of-a-bitch

practically pissed on me!

 

EXT. BUSHES - DAY

 

Hard Bones takes the binoculars from his eyes and hands them to Fox. Kool-Aid, Pidgin, Ai-ling and some of the Taipings are standing beside them.  Ai-ling is SPEAKING.

 

                          HARD BONES

Ai-ling says Tigers of War are

special units fighting for the

Ch'ing Imperial Army.  A kind

of elite force. 

 

                           KOOL-AID

Oh, shit!  You mean I just ran into

the Green Berets of the Ch'ing Dy-

nasty?

 

                          HARD BONES

Something like that.  But she says

this is an isolated group that

decided to join with the pirates.

 

                              FOX

Congreve rockets!  Damn!  I

never thought I'd ever really

see Congreve rockets!  And

those cannon must be 24-pounders

which means the gun deck probably

carries at least 32-pounders!

 

                           KOOL-AID

What the hell is the hour glass

on the flag for?

 

                              FOX

It's the pirates' way of warning

enemies that if you oppose them

your time is running out.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Oh, man, I had R&R in-

 

Fox speaks while looking through the binoculars.

 

                              FOX

-Bangkok.  Yeah, we know, Kool-Aid,

bad break.  But you worry too much.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Worry?!  Why should I worry?  Oh, sure,

Greenwood was a Recondo School instructor;

the man has taught Green Berets how to

survive!  And now he's got a loaded M-16

and a crew of bloodthirsty pirates and

a brig full of cannon!  He knows he has

to kill us to get to the chopper and he

knows where we are! 

 

                          HARD BONES

It's not a brig; it's a frigate.

 

                           KOOL-AID

And some nut cases in tiger outfits - Ch'ing

Dynasty counterparts of Greenwood - are

runnin' around the woods looking for trouble.

And, not to bother you with minor details,

but my black ass is stuck in the wrong fucking

century.  But, you are so right, my man - why

should I be worried?!

 

                          HARD BONES

You sure you saw Greenwood?

 

                           KOOL-AID

Not many pirates wearing US Army-

issued tiger fatigues, my man.

 

                          HARD BONES

Well, then, tonight we'll pay that

frigate a courtesy call and see

just whose time is running out.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Bye, bye, Bangkok.

 

EXT. WOODS - NIGHT

 

Hard Bones is leading Wizard, Kool-Aid, Pidgin and Ai-ling along a narrow trail through the woods.  Single file - 'nam style.  The crew have modern weapons and helmets camouflaged with twigs and leaves; Pidgin and Ai-ling have bows-and-arrows. 

 

The sky is overcast and the woods are dark and foreboding.  The dim light transforms the moving shadows of every tree, every bush, every clump of grass into something more sinister than complete darkness.  Kool-Aid glances over his shoulder at a slope.

 

EXT. SLOPE - NIGHT

 

About fifty villagers are dug in on the slope.  They are armed with muskets and bow-and-arrows.  Almost all have their lighted lanterns beside them. 

 

EXT. WOODS - NIGHT

 

The men SPEAK in whispers.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Look at those poor bastards up

there with those lanterns.  They

make perfect targets!

 

                          HARD BONES

I told you before.  It's a Chinese

thing - you wouldn't understand.

She says that's the way they fight. 

I can't change history.

 

                           KOOL-AID

The way they fight could get us all

killed!

 

                          HARD BONES

You talking too much is what could

get us all killed!

 

Suddenly, there is movement behind a bush.  Hard Bones stoops and halts the column.  The men SPEAK in urgent whispers.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hey!  I think I saw a Tiger of War!

 

Ai-ling SPEAKS to Hard Bones.

                           KOOL-AID

What'd she say?

 

                          HARD BONES

Well, she said pretty much what John

Wayne said to Henry Fonda in "Fort

Apache."  If you saw them, they

weren't apaches.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah, well, John Wayne ain't been

born yet, so fuck him and the horse

he rides in on!

 

The bush rustles again.  Ai-ling shoots an arrow at the bush and a wild goat SQUEALS and runs out.  It runs in circles, GRUNTING in panic, and then drops dead.

 

Hard Bones gives Kool-Aid an I-told-you-so look and signals for them to move out.  In a SERIES OF SHOTS they continue moving down the trail. 

 

WE THEN SEE them through the eerie view of the night scope stolen by Greenwood.  Suddenly, Kool-Aid stumbles into a trip flare and as it goes off all hell breaks loose. 

 

The sky is lit up with streaks of flame and we hear the sinister HISSING of incoming Chinese arrow-headed rockets. 

 

                            WIZARD

Incoming!

 

They run and roll to cover.  It is a typical Vietnam-style firefight - fast and fierce, with the helicopter crew letting loose with maximum firepower into darkness and terrain concealing unseen targets.

 

                          HARD BONES

They were waiting for us!  Head

back!

 

Hard Bones covers the retreat for the others with his M-16 and grenades and then runs back to join them.  He is almost out of breath.  Firing is all around them.

 

                       HARD BONES (cont)

The frigate was the bait!  We fell

for it!

 

Suddenly, there are several LOUD EXPLOSIONS and reddish-orange flashes from beyond the hill.

 

                           KOOL-AID

They hit the claymores!  That means

they're goin' for the chopper!

 

 

                            WIZARD

They got us damn well pinned down;

I'll say that for them!

 

The enormous CRASH of heavy rounds lands not far from them, each crash followed by a LOUD BOOM.

 

                            WIZARD

What the hell was that?!

 

                          HARD BONES

I think they're firing the ship's

cannon at us!

 

                           KOOL-AID

You mean, like, Mr. Charles is calling

in coordinates for an artillery strike

on us?!

 

                          HARD BONES

Something like that!

 

                           KOOL-AID

But we're supposed to be doin'

shit like that!

 

                            WIZARD

Wrong century!

 

Kool-Aid glances toward the slope.

 

                           KOOL-AID

And those fools up there still got

their lanterns goin'.

 

                            WIZARD

Perfect targets!

 

Ai-ling SPEAKS to Hard Bones in Chinese.

 

                          HARD BONES

That's it!  Perfect targets!

 

                            WIZARD

What are you talking about?

 

                          HARD BONES

Chinese military strategy!  The

cicada sheds its skin; then

moves on!  But the skin left

behind looks like the cicada!

This woman is a genius!

 

                            WIZARD

Could you make some sense?

 

                          HARD BONES

Wizard, you keep firing as if

there's twenty of you!  The

rest come with me.

 

Hard Bones disappears into the bushes and Kool-Aid, Ai-ling and Pidgin follow.  Wizard furiously racks and fires his shotgun.

 

EXT. PIRATE ARMY - NIGHT

 

Chinese pirates, as well as their equally scruffy allies who have deserted from the Ch'ing army, are walking in loose military file through an area of trees and tall grass.  At the head of their formation are two western pirates from the frigate.  Some of the Chinese are carrying lighted lanterns as well as weapons.  Suddenly one of them points to the hillside.

 

                        BRITISH PIRATE

They're trying to escape!

 

PIRATES' POV

 

The hillside is covered with lanterns moving about in the darkness.

 

EXT. BATTLE SCENE - NIGHT

 

The pirates aim and fire furiously at the lanterns.  In the darkness we see the flashes of the flintlock rifles, matchlock rifles, wheelock rifles and minie rifles.  Two men are firing a jingall, a long-barrelled rifle on a tripod, and each time it fires the man firing is knocked down by the recoil. 

 

Grayish smoke from the rifles using old-fashioned black powder is partly covering the scene.  In the darkness we also see CLOSE-UPS of sparks from flints dropping into rifle pans filled with priming powder and their maincharges igniting, as well as the lit matchcords of the matchlocks.

 

On the hillside the lanterns are now moving in all directions at great speed.  The pirates are confident, almost gleeful, in their victory.  They rush toward the hillside.

 

                        BRITISH PIRATE

Look at 'em run!  Keep it up!

 

As the pirates move closer to the hillside, one of the lanterns is approaching them from the darkness up ahead at full speed.

 

                        BRITISH PIRATE

Look out!

 

                        AMERICAN PIRATE

I got 'im; he's mine!

 

The pirate aims his flintlock and fires.  The lantern stops moving.

                        BRITISH PIRATE

You got the bastard!

 

The two pirates and a group of Chinese rush forward to claim their trophy.  When they reach it, they stop abruptly.

 

PIRATES' POV

 

A dying goat with a lantern tied to its horns by a strip of bamboo.

 

EXT. BATTLE SCENE - NIGHT

 

The American pirate kneels to examine the lantern and the bamboo, then looks up at the hillside still full of lights zigzagging in all directions and realizes in horror that he has been tricked.

 

Suddenly, there is an enormous EXPLOSION and SOUNDS of automatic weapons FIRING.  From the pirates' rear, we see Hard Bones and others throwing grenades and firing their M-16s. The Chinese use bows-and-arrows.

 

                        BRITISH PIRATE

They're behind us!

 

The battle is furious but quickly over.  The Chinese pirates have no chance at all against the surprise attack with modern weapons. Those not fallen are soon in full retreat.  In close fighting, Hard Bones and his students make use of their kung fu.

 

                            WIZARD

They're running!

 

                           KOOL-AID

We got 'em!

 

EXT. KOOL-AID AND A BRITISH PIRATE - NIGHT 

 

They are about to collide as they both round the intersection of a trail from the opposite sides. Kool-Aid has his M-16 and the pirate has a matchlock with the end of the slow match (cord) burning.  As they meet, each in shock fires his rifle before taking proper aim.  Neither hits the other.

 

The pirate recovers from his shock at seeing Kool-Aid just as Kool-Aid also recovers. Kool-Aid aims and squeezes the trigger but his rifle is empty.  With practiced speed, he ejects the magazine and shoves another one in and then aims to fire.  However, the sight of his opponent reloading his matchlock fascinates him and he slowly lowers his own weapon.  REACTION SHOTS of Kool-Aid are interspersed with his opponent's painstaking reloading.

 

 

POV - KOOL-AID

 

The pirate grabs his powder-filled leather container from his bandoleer.  He opens it with his thumb and then pours the powder into the barrel.  He then takes a lead ball from his pouch and starts it into the muzzle with his thumb.  With his ramrod he rams the ball down the muzzle.  He withdraws the ramrod, grabs his small priming flask, and primes the flash pan with fine powder, being careful to keep the burning match at a safe distance.  Finally, with the gun fully loaded the pirate raises it, blows ashes off the match cord tip and clamps it firmly into the serpentine (S-shaped hammer) and then aims at Kool-Aid.

 

EXT. SHOT FROM OVER KOOL-AID'S SHOULDER - NIGHT

 

FX: shotgun BLAST as the pirate is blown away.

 

EXT. BATTLE SCENE - NIGHT

 

                            WIZARD

You waiting for an engraved invitation to shoot?

 

                           KOOL-AID

   (looking down at the pirate)

It's not fair, man.  He never had a chance.

 

Wizard grabs Kool-Aid's M-16 away from him, picks up the matchlock and throws it to him just as Fox arrives on the scene with several armed villagers and Taiping women warriors.

 

                            WIZARD

Here.  You use the matchlock

from now on and I'll give the

pirates the M-16.  How's that?

 

                           KOOL-AID

(grabbing his rifle)

Give me that!

 

                            WIZARD

Pirates hit the claymores?

 

                              FOX

More like the claymores hit them.

What's left of them is still out

there.  Full of hot little pellets.

 

Kool-Aid suddenly notices the layer of black on his arms.  He rubs it with his fingers and looks at them.  The tips of his fingers are full of a black substance.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Jesus Christ, it is coming off!

 

                              FOX

That's black powder from the flint-

locks, you idiot!

Kool-Aid closes his eyes in relief.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Whew!

 

EXT. LANDING ZONE - DAY

 

Hard Bones and Wizard are working on the helicopter. Kool-Aid, Pidgin and Fox are nearby, cleaning rifles and small arms.

 

                           KOOL-AID

So did we kick their ass last night, or what?

 

                          HARD BONES

Don't kid yourself.  We were lucky.

And that was just a probe.  They'll

be back.  Before that happens, we've

got to get the pitch change link.

 

During the following exchanges, a well-dressed Chinese man walks into the scene and approaches Pidgin.  Pidgin joins him and the two Chinese move away and CONVERSE in Chinese.  They stand over Larson's grave and the newcomer RAISES HIS VOICE.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah, I sure would like to be air-

borne when they come.  We are gonna

be airborne once we get the missing

link, ain't we?

 

                          HARD BONES

Wizard, Kool-Aid wants to know if

we're gonna be airborne once we

get the missing link.

 

                            WIZARD

If we got Kool-Aid on board we got

the missing link.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hey, that's real funny, Wizard,

my man.  One more crack like-

 

                            WIZARD

Can't tell 'til we get it.  I can

tell you that even if we get the link,

we still got torque problems, lift

problems, and we got a rotor blade

out of track so the whole shebang

is dynamically unbalanced.

 

                              FOX

Is that all?

 

                            WIZARD

Hell, no!  Rockets are screwed up,

bearings are shot, minigun linkage

is damaged so they won't move.  And

that's the good news.

 

Pidgin SPEAKS to Hard Bones and Hard Bones follows him to join the new arrival at Larson's grave.  Fox nudges Kool-Aid to query who the newcomer is.  Kool-Aid shrugs.  They continue to work.

 

                           KOOL-AID

So if we're really here how come

I didn't read about us in my fifth

grade history book?

 

                              FOX

Why?  because we're in a remote

area, that's why.

 

                            WIZARD

I asked Hard Bones that very ques-

tion.  He says it's because if

any official reports to the emperor

that a flying dragon ship landed,

the emperor would think the official

was covering up some rebellion that

got out of hand or else was high on

British-smuggled opium.  In either

case the official would lose his head.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Speaking of opium, I wouldn't mind-

 

Hard Bones returns with Pidgin and the newcomer.

 

                          HARD BONES

Take a break and gather round.

 

The men put down their weapons and stand near Hard Bones.

 

                          HARD BONES

This gentleman is the assistant

of a very famous feng-shui man. 

 

                           KOOL-AID

What the fuck is-

 

                          HARD BONES

A feng-shui man is a geomancer;

somebody who uses charts and compasses

and all kinds of things to...determine

the natural harmony in the currents

of the cosmic breath.

 

                              FOX

You been into Kool-Aid's pills?

 

                          HARD BONES

To make a long story short, we

seem to have buried Larson in

such a way that the grave has

disturbed the natural harmony in

the currents of the cosmic breath

and that can affect the living

adversely as well as the dead.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Well, pardon me all over the

fuckin' place, but I don't

hear Larson complainin', so-

 

                          HARD BONES

And so this gentleman would greatly

appreciate it if we would rebury

Larson in a more propitious spot.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Propitious my ass!  How about-

 

                          HARD BONES

This gentleman says his master

has heard about us and believes he

knows how we got here and why and,

most important, how we can get out.

So, if I may have your word that

you will hear me out without any

further asshole interruptions, I

will proceed.

 

                            WIZARD

If you're saying that what you got to

say will get me back to the world,

I'll make damn sure you aren't in-

terrupted and I'll kiss his ass.

 

                           KOOL-AID

He can get us outta this fucked-up

dynasty, I'll send him my sister.

 

                          HARD BONES

I don't think either will be ne-

cessary, but it's the thought that

counts.

 

After the first few lines of the following monologue, the CAMERA DOLLIES past the face of each man and records the REACTIONS of the men as they stare incredulously at Hard Bones.

 

 

                       HARD BONES (cont)

OK, I can't quite get all of it, but

basically what he says is that when

we shot at the VC in 'nam the ground

we shot up with bullets and missiles

was actually the forepaw of a huge

sleeping dragon known as the Green Star

Dragon.  And the injured dragon rolled

over and roared, which sent us spinning

out of control and flying into China

exactly where we came out.  Disturbing

the dragon also sent us into the past.

I can't understand how exactly but he

says it has to do with yin and yang and

trigrams, hexagrams, the five elements,

the Book of Changes, and with the fact

that we destroyed the natural harmony

in the currents of the cosmic breath...

In other words, gentlemen, when we shot

at Charlie we pissed off a dragon.

 

The feng-shui man SPEAKS and HARD BONES translates.

 

                       HARD BONES (cont)

However, he says we can get back

into the present and back where

we came from by shooting up the

dragon's tail which is here in

Southern China, and is, where we

came in.  When the dragon roars

and rolls over we will emerge

back in Vietnam with as much time

passed there as has passed here.

 

                              FOX

Somebody's been in the sun too long.

 

                            WIZARD

We got to get Hard Bones to a

medic.  Fast!

 

                          HARD BONES

         (ignoring them) 

He says we need to be at the exact

spot we came in at exactly the

right hour and right day. 

 

The feng-shui man again SPEAKS and Hard Bones again translates.

 

 

                       HARD BONES (cont)

He says his master needs to know the

year, month, day and hour of our births

to check them with the map of the

heavenly bodies because there are

lucky days and unlucky days to start

any journey, and time is divided

into cycles such as the twelve animals,

the five substances, the five principal

planets, the five colors, the five-

 

             KOOL-AID

Five virgins is what we be needin’.

 

                          HARD BONES

Anyway, he needs to find the day and

hour that will best harmonize with

them all.  And if I will pay a courtesy

call on his master, and engage him in

a game of Chinese chess, he will attempt

to help us.

 

For a moment, no one speaks.  Then Kool-Aid springs forward and speaks with mock enthusiasm.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hey, I get it!  Yeah!  All we gotta

do is shoot up the dragon's paw, he

rolls over, lets out a roar, and

we're outta here!  Back in 'nam! 

Sure.  Makes a lot of sense.  Uh,

Hard Bones, can I see you in private

for a minute?

 

Kool-Aid smiles and nods to the feng-shui man as he leads Hard Bones a few steps away from the group.

 

                        KOOL-AID (cont)

This Papasan Chinaman is fuckin'

dinky-dau!  I mean, he has got

his head so far up his ass he

needs a glass belly-button to

see out, you dig?

 

                          HARD BONES

You got a better explanation for

what happened to us?

 

                           KOOL-AID

Well, no, but-

 

                          HARD BONES

You got a better idea of how we

get outta here?

 

                           KOOL-AID

No, I ain't, but-

                          HARD BONES

Then shut the fuck up and give the

nice feng-shui man your birth date. 

 

Hard Bones walks back to the group.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Jesus Christ, you're more dinky-

dau than the Chinaman!  Hey!  I

got a question.  What if the

dragon rolls over the other way? 

 

When Hard Bones RELATES the question to the feng-shui man, the feng-shui man LAUGHS uproariously.  He SPEAKS to the other Chinese who join in the LAUGHTER.  Then the feng-shui man SPEAKS to Hard Bones.

 

                          HARD BONES

He says even a child knows the Green

Star dragon cannot roll the other

way because the White Moon Tiger

is sleeping there. 

 

Wizard and Fox join in the LAUGHTER and begin MOCKING Kool-Aid for his ignorance.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Something about this fuckin'

dynasty makes everybody dinky-dau.

 

                          HARD BONES

Kool-Aid, take Pidgin and check on

the frigate.  When we get back,

we're going for the missing link. 

And be careful!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Come on, Pidgin.  Anything to get

away from these fruitcakes.

 

                            PIDGIN

(tapping his head)

No b'long reason?

 

                           KOOL-AID

You got it, my man.  These jokers

no b'long reason!

 

As they leave the perimeter, a villager armed with a flintlock jumps up from behind some bushes.

 

                           VILLAGER

Password!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Jimi Hendrix!

 

                            PIDGIN

Jimme'enlik!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Wait a minute!  You're supposed to

ask for the password when people

are tryin' to get in the landing

zone, not when- Oh, fuck it!

 

INT. FENG-SHUI MASTER'S COURTYARD - DAY

 

The assistant to the feng-shui master is leading Fox and Hard Bones through the inner gate and into the courtyard of an upper- class Chinese house.  The man bows politely and disappears.  Fox and Hard Bones sit on Chinese blackwood chairs.  All around are beautifully carved roof beams, tiled walls covered with paintings and calligraphic scrolls, carved blackwood tables set with jade vases and prize plants.

 

                          HARD BONES

Now, look, feng shui men are very

dignified, you understand?  Dollars

to donuts he'll have a robe and a

long white beard.

 

                              FOX

I'd rather he has the donuts.

 

                          HARD BONES

Protocol is everything.  If he offers

you tea, don't drink it.  Only when

he drinks from his cup, that means -

Oh, shit!

 

                              FOX

What's the matter?

 

                          HARD BONES

I'm trying to remember the right respon-

ses.  He'll say something like "You

are too kind to honor me with the

presence of your footsteps" and I have

to say something like "The honor belongs

to this unworthy disciple."  He'll ask,

"What is your honorable age?" and I'll

say my worthless number is such and such. 

When he asks, "Where is your mansion?"  I

say, my hovel is such and such.  He'll ask-

 

                              FOX

Sounds like a lot of bullshit to me.

 

                          HARD BONES

That's because you're an American from

the 20th century.  But-

 

The door opens and an extremely short, self-absorbed, man enters the courtyard followed by the assistant.  The man is wearing a western suit several sizes too large.  He peers through enormous Chinese-style tortoise shell spectacles and is almost constantly blinking.  He is using his long, pointed nails to strip off the hard shells of watermelon seeds and is constantly popping the kernels into his mouth.  He speaks with an English accent and adds a small CACKLE to almost all his dialogue.  His voice is very high-pitched.  He is the type who seldom lets others finish a sentence.

 

He walks quickly to them and stares at them.  Hard Bones nudges Fox and they both rise.  The man points to Fox.

 

                       FENG-SHUI MASTER

Who play chess?  You?

 

                          HARD BONES

Venerable sir, this unworthy person

does his best to play the-

 

                       FENG-SHUI MASTER

At last, an opponent!  Come!  Come!

 

The feng-shui master takes Hard Bones by the arm and leads.  Fox and Hard Bones follow him and his assistant through various courtyards toward the door of a building at the rear. 

 

                       FENG-SHUI MASTER

Very difficult to find a worthy

opponent here.  When I was in

Canton, I taught an Englishman

to play.

 

                          HARD BONES

You worked with the English?

 

                       FENG-SHUI MASTER

Yes, yes, all English in Canton

know me.  I am Bamboo Jack!

 

                          HARD BONES

Bamboo Jack?

 

                       FENG-SHUI MASTER

Yes, yes!  I think you have heard

of me, yes?

 

                          HARD BONES

Well, it's possible, but-

 

                       FENG-SHUI MASTER

Now, there is war between English

and Chinese so I retreat to here. 

Wait for better days.  Today the

river is low and the ants eat the

fish; tomorrow the river is high

and the fish eat the ants - simple

yin and yang, yes? 

 

The Feng-shui master slaps both men jovially on their backs.

 

                    FENG-SHUI MASTER (cont)

Now, let us see which you are -

fish or ants!

 

The Feng-shui Master CACKLES LOUDLY.  Fox throws Hard Bones a look then WHISPERS.

 

                              FOX

You do realize Bamboo Jack isn't

flying with all his rotor blades

intact, don't you?

 

                          HARD BONES

Shhh! 

 

                              FOX

Let me get this straight.  This

weirdo will help us get back to

'nam if you win the chess match;

and if he wins we take a look at

some silkworms.

 

                          HARD BONES

That's what his assistant said.

 

                              FOX

Can you beat him?

 

                          HARD BONES

I don't know.  On Taiwan I was pretty good.

 

                              FOX

What do you call 'pretty good'?

 

                          HARD BONES

I made the amateurs.

 

Fox GROANS.

 

                       FENG-SHUI MASTER

You are from America but from the future?

Marvelous!  I never played chess with

men from future before. 

 

                          HARD BONES

Well, I never played with men

from the past before, so I guess

that makes us even.

 

                              FOX

This place is like a palace!

 

                       FENG SHUI MASTER

Ah, yes!  Men from other countries

bring in special goods to trade

and Bamboo Jack helps both sides

chase the dollar.

 

Again the CACKLE and the ungentle back slap.

 

                          HARD BONES

          (to Fox)

I'd say Bamboo Jack made his for-         

tune in opium, wouldn't you?

 

                              FOX

Yeah, but why does he want people

to look at silkworms munching

mulberry leaves?

 

                          HARD BONES

I don't know.  He's obviously eccen-

tric.  Maybe he- 

 

The door opens and the men step inside.   

 

INT. CHESS ROOM - DAY

 

The room is huge and the entire floor is set up as a chessboard. There is an actual stream of water running between the two opponent's "camps" and all along the walls are banners in Chinese testifying to the feng-shui man's many victories.  There are also Chinese guards with huge swords and lances standing by.

 

Hard Bones and Fox stare at the "chessmen."  All of the chess pieces are beautiful Chinese women in diaphanous robes.  Half are wearing red and half are wearing blue.  They are each in their proper place on the board sitting on specially made platforms.  Each platform has a flag colored blue or red.

 

Each woman is wearing a tall Manchu-style hat with a Chinese character signifying her value.  Each side of the chessboard has 16 pieces (women) in place:  Five pawns, two ministers, two counselors, two knights, two cannon, two rooks and one king.  The women begin TITTERING and staring at Hard Bones and Fox.  They make COMMENTS about the men to each other.

 

                          HARD BONES

Oh, my God.

 

                              FOX

You were saying something about

Bamboo Jack being eccentric?!

 

EXT. WOODS - DAY

 

Kool-Aid and Pidgin are under attack by a large group of Chinese pirates from the frigate.  They are running for their lives and firing at the same time. 

 

CLOSE UP - KOOL-AID'S BOOT ENTERING A PUNJI TRAP

 

The trap is composed of two rows of sharpened bamboo stakes facing each other beneath a mat carpet covered with leaves.  It is the type of trap in which the stakes are angled downward so that once a foot steps in, it cannot be pulled out.

 

EXT. WOODS - DAY

 

Kool-Aid is painfully caught and his M-16 goes sprawling.  Pidgin grabs the weapon and throws himself beside Kool-Aid and keeps firing.  Arrows and bullets THWUCK and SMASH all around them.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Pidgin!  Get out of here!  Go!

 

                            PIDGIN

No can! 

 

Pidgin continues firing.  A Western pirate sneaks up behind him and is about to pull the trigger of his flintlock when he is suddenly blown away in an enormous BLAST.

 

We see Wizard firing his shotgun at the ever increasing number of targets.

 

                            WIZARD

I thought you boys were gone

too long.

 

                           KOOL-AID

You cracker asshole!  Get out of

here!  There's too many of them!

 

Wizard ignores the advice and stands in the open killing pirates as they rush in.  We see several Chinese pirates with bow-and-arrows let loose their arrows.  Wizard is hit in the shoulder and leg.  He continues to fire.  He is hit again in the leg.  Several Chinese jump on Kool-Aid.  A pirate clubs Pidgin with the butt of his rifle, knocking him unconscious.

 

INT. CHESS ROOM - DAY

 

Hard Bones is walking slowly between his female chess pieces and returning their come-hither smiles.  He reaches a spot between a cannon and a pawn.  A gong SOUNDS. 

 

                       FENG-SHUI MASTER

Ten seconds!

 

Hard Bones reflects for only a few seconds then touches one woman's shoulder.

 

                          HARD BONES

Cannon on line four, forward six spaces!

 

The judge REPEATS the move in Chinese.  The girl (cannon) grasps Hard Bones's red flag, rises and walks in a tottering, sexy bound-foot gait across the river bridge to where Bamboo Jack's knight is located.  She removes Bamboo Jack's blue flag and replaces it with the red flag.  The knight takes Bamboo Jack's flag and walks off the board and onto a balcony overlooking the chess board.  Hard Bones's cannon gracefully seats herself onto the stool and smiles at Hard Bones.

 

The feng-shui man is obviously upset with Hard Bones's move.  He walks slowly among his remaining pieces while staring at Hard Bones's remaining pieces south of the river.  Hard Bones returns to his seat beside Fox.

 

                              FOX

You got him worried now, old buddy.

 

                          HARD BONES

I'm not so sure.  I can see why no-

body ever beats this guy.  He's

clever as hell.

 

In a SERIES OF SHOTS, the feng-shui man and Hard Bones quickly CALL OUT moves and each time one of the women gets up and walks to a new position.  If they are capturing an opponent's piece, the 'captured' woman takes the appropriate flag and leaves the board.

 

                              FOX

But you can beat him, right?

 

                          HARD BONES

Well, he tore up my Three-Step

Tiger offense, but now we're in

mid-game, so we'll soon know

just how good he is.

 

                              FOX

Is there a reason a lot of your

pieces have left the board?

 

                          HARD BONES

Yeah, there's a reason.  He's winning.

 

The feng-shui master passes by Hard Bones while studying a move.

 

                       FENG-SHUI MASTER

I saw eclipse and I knew a game

would begin.  Oh, so much time

since someone visited the Silk-

worm Chamber!

 

Suddenly, all the color drains from Hard Bones's face.

 

                          HARD BONES

Silkworm Chamber?!

 

                              FOX

What's the matter?...Hey!  Talk

to me!

 

                          HARD BONES

Now I understand why nobody ever

shows up to play chess with this

guy.

 

                              FOX

What are you talking about?

 

                          HARD BONES

He didn't say 'room of silkworms';

he said, 'Silkworm Chamber'.  And

there aren't any silkworms in it.

 

                              FOX

Could you make some sense?

 

                          HARD BONES

They used to have rooms called

the Silkworm Chamber because that's

where men were sent to become eunuchs. 

Because a recently castrated man and

a newly hatched silkworm both need

a heated room to survive.

 

                              FOX

Castrated?!  You mean Bamboo Jack

is a...

 

                                               CUT TO:

 

INT. FRIGATE'S GUN DECK - DAY

 

Wizard and Kool-Aid are sitting on sailors' slop chests;  Their arms are tied behind them by ropes stretching to hammock hooks.  Wizard is bleeding from his wounds and is in some pain.  Their possessions, including Wizard's Bible, are piled near them.  The room is lined with cannon lashed to the wall.

 

The several Chinese pirates who are guarding them are completely absorbed in a noisy game of dice for money. 

 

 

The door opens and four western pirates enter.  They curtly motion for the Chinese to leave.  Although none has an eye patch or wooden leg or a parrot on his shoulder, in every other respect they fulfill everyone's worst nightmare of menacing cutthroats.  In addition to the sheath knives at their belts, they are armed to the teeth with flintlock pistols and cutlasses. 

 

The pirate captain motions for his men to sit on chests or casks, then all sit facing the prisoners.  They stare at the two men, especially Kool-Aid, as if they are exhibits in a zoo. Kool-Aid and Wizard stare back.  Finally:

 

                            WIZARD

Hey!

 

                           KOOL-AID

What?

 

                            WIZARD

Weren't these guys extras in Mutiny

on the Bounty?

 

                           KOOL-AID

Which one?

 

                            WIZARD

All of them.

 

                           KOOL-AID

I mean, which version?

 

                            WIZARD

You know.  With Clark Gable.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Nah.  They're too young.  I think

it was the one with Marlon Brando.

 

The pirate captain speaks with a Cockney accent.

 

                        PIRATE CAPTAIN

Clap a stopper on your tongues!

 

                           KOOL-AID

(wide-eyed)

What did he say to do with our tongues?

 

                            WIZARD

I think he said to "clap a stopper"

on them.

 

Wizard and Kool-Aid begin to CHUCKLE.  Wizard's LAUGHTER is mixed with WINCES from the pain of his wounds.

 

                        PIRATE CAPTAIN

Goddamn ye!  Belay your gabble or

you'll cop a packet!

Wizard and Kool-Aid find it more difficult to stop LAUGHING.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hey, I seen this guy in

Pittsburgh once!

 

                            WIZARD

Pittsburgh?!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah, he was playin' shortstop

for the Pittsburgh Pirates!

 

                            WIZARD

Hey, come on, Kool-Aid, it hurts

when I laugh.  Knock it off!

 

                ANOTHER PIRATE (heavy Cockney)

Thi siyuh blaow kiz feh bawmi!

 

                            WIZARD

What did he say?

 

                           KOOL-AID

I think he said, "This here bloke

is fair balmy!"

 

Tears of laugher roll down their cheeks while the pirates look at them in wonderment.  Wizard tries to talk while LAUGHING hysterically and WINCING from the pain.

 

                             WIZARD

I don't mind...being stuck in the

Ch'ing Dynasty but...I do mind

being an extra in a shipboard

version of Treasure Island.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah, baby, dig those bellbottoms!

They'd fit right in at USC!  And

dig these snappy red floors!  It's

like a brothel in here!

 

                            WIZARD

No, man, they paint gun deck floors red

so in battle the guncrews won't notice

how much of their blood has spilled.

 

As that sinks in, Kool-Aid abruptly stops laughing.

 

                        KOOL-AID (cont)

Well, Wizard, my man, we are in

deep doo doo.  But don't sweat it.

 

                            WIZARD

OK, if you can give me one good

reason why I shouldn't sweat it,

I promise not to.

 

                           KOOL-AID

              Because even as we sit here I guaran-

tee you Hard Bones and Fox are figuring

a way to get us out of here.

 

                                                   BLUR PAN TO:

 

INT. CHESS ROOM - DAY

 

There are six pieces left on the board: only two belong to Hard Bones.  Fox is increasingly nervous and WHISPERS urgently.

 

                              FOX

He's got twice as many players as you! 

 

                          HARD BONES

So he has.  But we're in the end

game and I've got a rook to his

knight and two ministers.

 

                              FOX

Hard Bones, don't play games with

me!  My family jewels are in the

balance!  Can you win?!

 

                          HARD BONES

Well, the saying goes that one rook

can make ten pieces tremble.  (to

his opponent).  Rook on line four

forward one space!

 

Hard Bones and his opponent again rapidly CALL OUT moves, sending their pieces scurrying about the board.

 

CLOSE UP - WORRIED FACE OF FOX

 

EXT. WOODS - DAY

 

Pidgin is just waking up.  He holds his throbbing head and looks around; then moves painfully but quickly into the woods.

 

INT. FRIGATE'S GUN DECK - DAY

 

A door opens and Greenwood walks in, armed to the teeth.  Larson's ears are on a string around his neck. 

 

Behind him, several Chinese pirates enter the room, including one female.  One of them is carrying an unlit torch.  Two are carrying a chest on a pole.  As they set the chest down, Greenwood smiles and walks to Kool-Aid and Wizard.                          

 

                           KOOL-AID

Look what the cat dragged in.

 

                            WIZARD

Yeah.  A rat.

 

Greenwood shoulders his M-16 and simply smiles at their remarks.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hey, Greenwood, how about get-

ting a medic for Wizard?

 

                           GREENWOOD

Medic?!  Where the fuck you think

you are, back in the 'nam?

 

He pulls out a pack of Marlboro from his pocket, then realizes it's empty.  He SPEAKS as he throws it away.

 

                           GREENWOOD

Shit.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Looks like Marlboro Man just ran

out of Marlboro.

 

                           GREENWOOD

You boys wouldn't happen to have an

American cigarette on you now, would you?

 

                            WIZARD

I got a whole carton of Camels in

the baggage compartment on the chopper. 

Let us go and I'll be right back with

it.  Cross my heart!

 

Greenwood sits and grins the same cold smile as before.

 

                           GREENWOOD

Well, now, that's what I wanted to talk

to you about.  I suppose by now Hard

Bones has pretty much mined every square

inch of land all around the chopper.

 

                           KOOL-AID

That should be no problem for a Long

Range Reconnaissance Patrol he-man

like you, Greenwood. 

 

                            WIZARD

Yeah, just don't trip over any wires.

 

                           GREENWOOD

Well, it'd be a lot less of a problem

if you boys show me where the traps

and wires are.  You do that and I'll

consider you members of my team.

                            WIZARD

You mean like the team you sent out

last night?

 

                           GREENWOOD

Shit!  I let those assholes probe

your position 'cause I knew they'd

get the shit kicked out of them.

Now I get listened to around here.

Ain't that right, Captain?

 

The Captain says nothing but glares at Greenwood.

 

                            WIZARD

Looks like the Captain doesn't

think much of you either, Green-

wood.

 

                           GREENWOOD

Oh, we just got a little dif-

ference of opinion about who

runs the show.  No big deal.

 

                            WIZARD

Well, you probe all you like, but

there's no way in hell you'll ever

get that chopper. 

 

                           GREENWOOD

And that's your final word on the

matter?

 

                            WIZARD

It is.

 

                           GREENWOOD

Well, then, I'm afraid it is.  Your

final word.

 

A Chinese pirate looks to Greenwood and Greenwood gestures toward the chest.  The pirate walks to the chest and opens it.  Green-wood walks to the chest and reaches in.

 

CLOSE SHOT - MASS OF WRITHING SNAKES

 

INT. GUN DECK - DAY

 

Holding it just behind its head, Greenwood pulls out a snake about two feet long and nearly as thick as a man's wrist.  He gestures to the Chinese pirates and two of them hold Kool-Aid’s arm.  Greenwood carries it to Kool-Aid and, although Kool-Aid tries to draw back, the snake lashes out and bites him on the arm.  Greenwood sits down on a slop chest and smiles.

 

                           GREENWOOD

It's a pit viper.  You'll begin to

stiffen in twenty seconds and you'll

be dead in two minutes.

 

                            WIZARD

Fuck you, Greenwood.  That ain't no

pit viper.

 

                           GREENWOOD

Aw shucks, I forgot.  You southern

boys know all about shit like that.

 

Greenwood allows the snake to bite his own arm, then, still holding the snake, gets up.

 

                       GREENWOOD (cont)

Last time, gentlemen.  You goin' to

show me where the traps and trip

wires are?

 

                           KOOL-AID

If they was up your ass you'd know

where they was.

 

Greenwood CHUCKLES then nods to the British pirates.  Except for the Captain, they move toward Kool-Aid.

 

                           GREENWOOD

No.  Not him.  (pointing to Wizard)  Him.

 

Although Wizard struggles to resist, the men force Wizard's mouth open and one places the snake's head inside.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Jesus Christ, Greenwood, what

the hell is the matter with you?!

 

                           GREENWOOD

Me?  Nothing the matter with me.

It's just that I owe this boy

something from on the chopper.

 

The men holding Wizard pause and look toward Greenwood who gestures again.  The pirate holding the torch uses flint and steel to light it.  He then takes the burning torch and applies it to the tail of the snake.  The action is INTERCUT with CLOSE UPs of reactions - Kool-Aid and the pirates, as even they seem to wince at Greenwood's methods of interrogation.  The snake, its head trapped in Wizard's mouth, writhes about madly, frenziedly, desperately trying to escape.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Greenwood, you son-of-a-bitch,

stop it!  

 

The pirate captain gets up.

                        PIRATE CAPTAIN

That's enough!  You don't need to

kill a man that way! 

 

The pirates keep the snake head in Wizard's mouth but move the torch away, not certain whom to obey.

 

                           GREENWOOD

This is my business.

 

                        PIRATE CAPTAIN

On my ship it is my business!

 

                           GREENWOOD

I told you: you run the ship and

I do what I have to do to get the

helicopter!  They fix that helicopter

before we get it they can blow

this ship out of the water!  You

want that?!

 

The pirate captain glances toward his men, then angrily strides out of the room.  Greenwood motions for the pirates to continue their torture of Wizard.

 

The snake continues its furious thrashing and finally slithers down Wizard's throat almost out of sight.  Wizard begins choking and madly straining against his captors until finally he stops struggling - out of air - dead.  One of the pirates immediately douses the torch in a fire bucket.

 

                           KOOL-AID

You sick motherfucker!  Even the

VC didn't think of that one!

 

As Greenwood retrieves the still-living snake from Wizard's throat and returns it to the chest, Wizard's body is thrown into a corner. 

 

                           GREENWOOD

I'm sick?  You think I'm sick, do

you? Kool-Aid, you are so innocent.

 

Greenwood rolls a barrel in front of Kool-Aid and then gestures to the female pirate to sit on it.  He then motions for the Chinese pirates to unwrap one of her bound feet.

 

                           GREENWOOD

I'll show you who's sick.  Take

a good look at the world we live

in now.

 

The Chinese slip off the tiny three-inch shoes from the woman's foot and begin unwrapping the white cotton cloth.  The woman blushes and hangs her head but does not resist.

 

                           GREENWOOD

Golden lilies, they call these tiny

feet.  Millions of women here have

'em.  Every Dink mama wants her Dink

daughter to have 'em.  I thought you

should see what they look like.

 

                           KOOL-AID

They're not Dinks!  You think you're

in 'nam?

 

                           GREENWOOD

Hey, Kool-Aid, you know, killin' Dinks

in the 20th century or Chinks in the

19th - I really don't give a shit as

long as I'm killin'.

 

As the last of the wrapping comes off the foot, Kool-Aid looks at it in horror. 

 

POV - KOOL-AID

 

The woman's stump displays the characteristics of a bound foot:  It is deformed, grotesque, hideous and repulsive.

 

Greenwood holds up the woman's foot to give Kool-Aid a better view.

 

                           GREENWOOD

That's beauty here, Kool-Aid.  Years

of torture produce it.  Oh, sure, in

'nam, you boys might throw a VC

prisoner out of a chopper at a

thousand feet, and the VC might

torture a GI and strip his skin off

while he's alive, but how does that

petty shit compare to this?!  If I'm

sick, what are millions of Chinks?

 

                           KOOL-AID

You'll never get out of here with

that chopper, you sick son-of-

 

                           GREENWOOD

Get out of here?!  Hey, man, I belong

here; I love it here; I was reborn to

be here; I don't want the chopper to

escape; I want the chopper to be King

of the Ch'ing!

 

Greenwood motions for the woman to leave.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Greenwood, you're an American!  One of

us!  How can you betray us?

 

                           GREENWOOD

Well, Kool-Aid, since you asked, I'll

tell you.  I never did fit in in the

States.  It wasn't until I was in

the jungles of 'nam with a weapon in

my hands that I came to life.  It was

the first thing I was good at.  Damn

good!  And I came to realize that the

only side I was on was mine. 

 

                           KOOL-AID

Nobody's alone, man.

 

                           GREENWOOD

That's where you're wrong, Kool-Aid. 

Everybody's got a cause - Ch'ing

imperial army, Taiping Revolution,

Republic of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, duty,

honor, country - and you know what? 

It's all bullshit!  Me?  I got the one

man I can trust - me.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Listen, Greenwood, you help us here

and-

 

                           GREENWOOD

And what?  I serve only twenty years

instead of life?  I got a better idea.

How 'bout I get that chopper, and

then do any fucking thing I want.

 

Greenwood gestures toward the chest of snakes and the pirates move to take it out.

 

                       GREENWOOD (cont)

OK, Kool-Aid.  We'll let you thaw out

down below for awhile.  Then we'll

see if we can exchange you for the

chopper.  Let's see where Hard Bones's

loyalty really lies.

 

Kool-Aid Kool-Aid is roughly taken out by the pirates.

 

                           KOOL-AID

You are one sorry asshole, you know

that, don't you, Greenwood?

 

Greenwood smiles coldly.

 

EXT. COURTYARD - DAY

 

The feng shui man and his assistant have seen Hard Bones and Fox to the gate and are waving goodbye.  Hard Bones and Fox are being carried in rattan seats on poles by bearers.

 

 

                              FOX

A draw!?  Jesus Christ, my man-

hood was saved by a draw!?

 

                          HARD BONES

What are you complaining about? 

If he hadn't let me move first

he'd have won.  Besides, he

said because I had the guts to

play him, he'll try to help us. 

 

                              FOX

What was he looking at your hand

for?

 

                          HARD BONES

He was reading my palm.  He said

he saw three of us - not four.

But the one who was gone would

save us twice; even after he

died.

 

                              FOX

Jesus!  He is nuts!  Are all Chin-

ese dynasties kinky like this one?

 

                          HARD BONES

We keep pissing off dragons, we

just might find out.

 

INT. STORE ROOM OF FRIGATE - DAY

 

Kool-Aid is in a store room of the ship sitting on wooden casks with his arms and legs tied securely.  A lantern is swinging slowly back and forth, casting an uneven light and dispelling very little of the cavernous gloom around him.  We hear the CREAKS and GROANS of the ship even when she is at anchor.  All around are barrels of provisions and rats are scurrying about, gnawing their way into cheeses and ship's biscuit.

 

Kool-Aid tries to work his way out of his ropes but quickly gives up the idea as hopeless.  He notices the rats watching him.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Oh, yeah, now I remember how it

works.  I smear the ropes with

food and you guys chew the ropes

and I'm free.  But how the hell

do I smear the ropes with food

if my hands are tied?  How about

we play a game of 'Let's Pretend'?

 

The door opens slightly and a Chinese crew member enters the room carrying a lantern.  He turns to gesture to someone behind him.  Pidgin enters the room followed by Hard Bones.  Hard Bones is dressed in pirate clothing:  flat, broad-brimmed tarpaulin hat, seaman's checkered shirt, pea jacket, duck trousers, sea boots.

                           KOOL-AID

Hard Bones!  Pid-

 

                          HARD BONES

Shhh!  Whisper!

 

Hard Bones quickly takes a knife from his sheath and cuts Kool-Aid's ropes.  They all SPEAK in a whisper.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Who's this?

 

                            PIDGIN

He inside-my-village-man.  Bad heart

man makee him work this place.

 

                          HARD BONES

We've got a boat waiting.  Let's

move!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Greenwood killed Wizard.

 

                          HARD BONES

I know.  (gesturing to the

Chinese)  He told us.

 

                           KOOL-AID

We're just gonna-

 

                          HARD BONES

We'll get our revenge later.  We

have to get out of here first.

 

Kool-Aid quickly picks up his belongings and some of Wizard's.  He glances at the Bible, hesitates, then grabs it.

 

                           KOOL-AID

How many men you got?

 

                          HARD BONES

Fox is on shore with a few men.

But I had to leave most with

the chopper.  Bring those ropes.

 

The crew member opens the door, peers out and motions for them to follow.  The men move out into the passageway.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Where'd you get the pirate outfit?

 

                          HARD BONES

A fellow on shore was taking a nap.

He was kind enough to let me have

his clothes.  We'll have to get you

some.  First, we've got to get the

pitch change link.  Stay close.

 

SERIES OF SHOTS:  The men move cautiously up a ladder and scramble up through a wooden hatch.  As someone approaches, they throw themselves behind huge coils of rope, narrowly avoiding detection.  The villager WHISPERS to Pidgin.  Pidgin turns to Kool-Aid and gestures toward a small cabin, guarded by two English pirates.

 

                            PIDGIN

Flen him say t'ing you want for fly-

ing Dragon ship b'long inside.

 

INT. PASSAGEWAY AND GUARDS - DAY

 

Suddenly, into their line of vision comes Kool-Aid with his hands up followed by Hard Bones holding a pistol at his back.  The guards point their flintlock rifles.

 

                          HARD BONES

Relax, mates, I got 'im.  The bloke

was trying to escape.  I think the

Captain might want to chat with 'im

a bit.

 

As Hard Bones passes them, the guards lower their rifles.  Hard Bones and Kool-Aid immediately knock them out.

 

                            PIDGIN

Hab got one piecey man room-

inside catchey whiskey too

muchee.  He Engelissman.

 

From inside the cabin, we hear the SINGING of a man who has been drinking.

 

                     ENGLISH PIRATE (O.S.)

She died of a fever; and nothing

could save her;

And that was the end of sweet

Molly Malone;

Now 'er ghost wheels a barrow

Through streets broad and narrow-

 

Hard Bones grasps his knife and gestures for the crew member to knock on the door.  The others stand to the side.  The crew member KNOCKS.  We HEAR a rough voice from inside the cabin.

 

                 ENGLISH PIRATE (O.S.) (cont)

Blimey!  'Old your 'orses, guv'nor!. 

I'm comin'.

 

The door opens and the English Pirate stands facing the crew member.

 

                     ENGLISH PIRATE (cont)

Well, my heathen friend, what is-

 

Hard Bones rushes the man, pushing him inside the room with the knife to his throat. Kool-Aid, Pidgin and the crew member quickly follow. Kool-Aid slips the man's double-barrelled pistol from his belt and holds it on him.

 

                          HARD BONES

Now, my heathen friend, you make

one sudden move or sound and I'm

gonna cut you up for Irish stew.

You got that?

 

The man nods his head. Kool-Aid and the Chinese drag the unconscious guards into the room and lock the door. Kool-Aid begins searching the room.

 

                       HARD BONES (cont)

I'll only ask it once.  Where's

the pitch change link?

 

The man hesitates; Hard Bones is about to use the knife; the man nods toward a seaman's chest. 

 

Kool-Aid rummages in the chest, locates it and tosses it to Hard Bones.

                           KOOL-AID

Got it! 

 

INT. GUNDECK - DAY

 

The villager peers cautiously from around a corner.  Gun ports have been opened to allow light and air to enter.  Three western pirates are sleeping in hammocks.  The villager motions for the others to enter.

 

Pidgin enters followed by Hard Bones and Kool-Aid, both now dressed in pirate clothes.  An oversized sailor's ditty bag around Kool-Aid's neck contains his fatigues and Wizard's Bible. The pitch change link is tied to Hard Bone's belt.

 

The villager looks out a gun port then motions for Hard Bones to tie the rope to a wall hammock hook.  The rope is then passed out the gun port.  The villager is first out, followed by Pidgin.

 

EXT. WATERLINE OF FRIGATE - DAY

 

We see two Chinese villagers in a dinghy.  One is holding the boat steady while the other prepares to aid those sliding down the rope.

 

INT. CABIN - DAY

 

The pirate, tied up in his underwear, is just working his bonds loose.

 

INT. GUNDECK – DAY

 

Just as Hard Bones is exiting the gun port, one of the pirates wakes up and rolls over. Kool-Aid turns his back blocking Hard Bones from the pirate's sight and pretends to be looking out the gun port.  The pirate is half-asleep.

 

                            PIRATE

How many bells have gone?

 

                           KOOL-AID

Bells?..Uh, don't worry, mate,

it's not your watch yet. 

 

The man rolls back over and closes his eyes. 

 

                            PIRATE

On this ship, everybody's in

everybody's mess but on nobody's

watch.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Right on!  Power to the peo-

 

                          HARD BONES

(urgent whisper)

No!

                           KOOL-AID

Uh, I mean, you got that right,

mate!  Some 'o the blokes on

this 'ere ship are fair balmy! 

 

The pirate MUMBLES something and begins SNORING. Kool-Aid glances over his shoulder and then quickly follows Hard Bones out the gun port and slides down the rope.

 

EXT. WATERLINE OF FRIGATE - DAY

 

As Kool-Aid is holding onto the rope halfway between the frigate and the boat, we see

 

EXT. MAIN DECK - DAY

 

A pirate unbuttons his trousers to take a leak off the side of the ship.

 

EXT. WATERLINE OF FRIGATE - DAY

 

Kool-Aid is trying to avoid being urinated on as he slides into the boat. 

 

EXT. MAIN DECK OF FRIGATE - DAY

 

The pirate, still in underwear, rushes on deck blowing on a boatswain's pipe.  He spots Greenwood.

 

                            PIRATE

The prisoner's escaped!  They got

the thing you hid!

 

Greenwood brushes the urinating man aside and sees Kool-Aid still holding the rope sliding down toward the boat.  Greenwood aims his M-16.  It jams.  He SWEARS, throws it to the deck, draws his knife and leaps overboard. 

 

EXT. DINGHY - DAY

 

Greenwood lands on Kool-Aid, knocking him almost unconscious into the boat.  Hard Bones immediately charges Greenwood while villagers at the oars panic and jump into the water.  The boat rocks wildly.  Pidgin and the remaining villager from the ship grab the oars and row. 

 

EXT. MAIN DECK OF FRIGATE - DAY

 

Pirates from the frigate are attempting to fire at them without hitting Greenwood. 

 

EXT. DINGHY - DAY

 

Hard Bones is desperately holding onto Greenwood's arm as the blade of the knife gets closer to his throat.  He manages to extract the pitch change link from his belt and thrusts it into Greenwood's crotch but as the boat lurches the link falls into the water.  Kool-Aid has recovered enough to see what is happening and immediately dives for the link.

 

As they struggle, Hard Bones forces Greenwood's hand holding the knife back behind his shoulder and Pidgin manages to sink his teeth into Greenwood's hand.  Greenwood CRIES OUT and drops the knife.  Hard Bones hits him with a right, left, right, knocking Greenwood out of the boat.  Pidgin helps Kool-Aid into the boat. Kool-Aid has managed to retrieve the link. 

 

                           KOOL-AID

I got it!  Go!  Go!  Go!

 

Bullets smash into the boat as Hard Bones rows them away.  The men pole and paddle the boat away from the frigate parallel with the shore.

 

EXT. BAY - DAY

 

The boat with Hard Bones and the others is quickly disappearing from sight.  Greenwood is picked up by a boat from the frigate.

 

EXT. FRIGATE MAIN DECK - DAY

 

The pirate captain is YELLING through his speaking trumpet at men in sampans and small sailing boats near the shore to pursue their boat.  Another ship's boat is also hurriedly being launched.

 

EXT. BAY - DAY

 

A SERIES OF SHOTS in which boats are gaining on Hard Bones's boat.  Arrows are whizzing overhead and musket balls are thudding into their boat and splashing beside it.  Finally, they reach shore and as Fox and his men cover them, all five men jump out and run into the woods.  In the confusion, Hard Bones and Kool-Aid get separated from the others and run together up hills and down hills.  They are almost out of breath when they suddenly run into:

 

EXT. CLEARING - DAY

 

Several ferocious looking (regular army) Chinese officers in full Ch'ing Dynasty military dress are practicing archery.  Each officer has a monstrous tiger-like face embroidered at his waist. They are something out of a bad dream.  They turn to stare at Hard Bones and Kool-Aid. Kool-Aid begins backing up near a tree.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Oh, man, these dudes are dressed

down heavy!

 

                          HARD BONES

Uh...Hi, guys.  Don't mind us.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah, We just passin' through.  So,

happy trails and all that shit. 

Tell the emperor if he in Detroit

some time, he should look me up.

Well, so long for-

 

As Kool-Aid turns to go, an arrow THUMPS into the tree an inch from his ear. 

 

The soldiers quickly surround the two men and while some pin their arms, others grab their ditty bags and dump the contents onto the ground.

 

                          HARD BONES

These guys must work for the local

magistrate.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Oh, shit!  You mean the pirates'

friend?

 

                          HARD BONES

Yeah.  We let them take us we'll

end up back with Greenwood.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Shit!  My mama told me not to join

the goddamned army.

 

 

The soldiers look over the contents of Kool-Aid's ditty bag and then open the Bible.  Suddenly, they CRY OUT and jump back in horror.  One begins SCREAMING in Chinese.

 

                        KOOL-AID (cont)

What's his problem?

 

                          HARD BONES

They think it's a book of sorcery!

They think you're some kind of

demon!

 

Hard Bones and Kool-Aid are released and the soldiers back away.

 

                       HARD BONES (cont)

It's the same kind of book as their

book of the dead - red capitals,

black-letter type and silver clasp!

And your blackness scares them!

 

                           KOOL-AID

The way they actin' it's beginnin'

to scare me!

 

                          HARD BONES

This is our only chance!  Act crazy!

Like you're in a spell or trance or

something! 

 

                           KOOL-AID

What kind of spell?

 

                          HARD BONES

Just do it!

 

Kool-Aid picks up the Bible, opens it and begins his act, shaking, quaking and moving toward the soldiers as he speaks.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Ooohhhh!  Ooooohhhh!  I call upon the

gods of...music!  Ringo!  George!  Paul!

John!  Jimmy!  Jefferson Airplane!

 

He opens his vial of pills and takes one as he sings.

 

                        KOOL-AID (cont)

One pill makes you larger!

 

He takes another pill.

 

                        KOOL-AID (cont)

And one pill makes you small!

And the ones that mother gives you!

 

He throws pills at the soldiers who cower and move back.  He moves closer to them and then finishes with menacing gestures and full histrionics.

 

                        KOOL-AID (cont)

Don't do anything at all!

Go ask Alice!

When she's ten feet tall!

Keep your head!  Keep your head!

Keep you head!

 

The soldiers run off in panic.

 

Hard Bones quickly begins gathering their belongings.

 

                          HARD BONES

Let's get out of here!

 

As they start to run, weapons FIRE from an M-16 and flintlocks churns up the ground around them.  Greenwood and several pirates are on a hillside with a clear shot at them.

 

                           GREENWOOD

I knew you'd come for them!  Now

you can kiss your ass goodbye!

 

Suddenly several arrows whiz about their heads, striking two of the pirates.  The Taipings appear on the other side of the clearing, providing cover for Hard Bones and Kool-Aid who manage to make it to safety.  During the fighting, another pirate is struck with an arrow but Greenwood's M-16 cuts down two of the Taiping women.

 

EXT. TRAIL - DAY

 

Fox and the Chinese are running toward the sound of gunfire.  As Greenwood pursues the Taipings, Fox sends him tumbling for cover with fire from his M-16.

 

                              FOX

Hard Bones!  You OK?

 

                          HARD BONES

You mean except for the fact that

I'm living in the wrong century?

Yeah, I'm fine.  Thanks to Wizard's

Bible and these lovely ladies.

 

                              FOX

Pidgin says Wizard's dead.

 

                          HARD BONES

He is.  Greenwood killed him.

 

                              FOX

That son-of-a-bitch!  Where's Kool-Aid?

 

Hard Bones turns around without spotting Kool-Aid.

 

                          HARD BONES

He was here a minute ago.

 

EXT. BESIDE THE TRAIL - DAY

 

Hard Bones and Fox come upon Kool-Aid's body lying in the midst of a bamboo thicket.  Hard Bones kneels, lifts Kool-Aid's eyelids and takes his pulse.  Fox also looks him over, then throws a questioning glance at Hard Bones.

 

                          HARD BONES

This fool passed out from his pills.

 

                                                      CUT TO:

 

EXT. LANDING ZONE - DAY

 

It is sunset.  The sky is beautiful.  Hard Bones, Pidgin, the villagers and some of the Taiping women are grouped together.  Hard Bones is adjusting a bandage on Ai-ling's arm.  Fox is sitting beside a still sleepy Kool-Aid who is just waking up.  Fox is slapping his face and forcing him to drink tea.

 

                              FOX

How you doin'?

 

                           KOOL-AID

My head wants to burst and my arms

ache and my ribs hurt.  Other than

that...

 

                              FOX

I heard about Wizard.  I wish we

could have been there for you guys.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah, so do I.  Anyway, where was

you people?

 

                              FOX

Playing chess with Bamboo Jack.

 

Kool-Aid practically chokes on his tea.

 

                          FOX (cont)

Hard Bones thinks he's a eunuch

who wants company in more ways

than one!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Man, am I fucked up!  I just thought

I heard you say- Hell, never mind.

If you could have been there, you

would have been.

 

                              FOX

You got that right.

                           KOOL-AID

So what are we gonna do about

Greenwood?

 

                          HARD BONES

We're going to test the chopper. 

Now. If it works, then we'll see

if we can avenge Wizard's death.

It was his Bible that saved us.

 

                              FOX

Jesus, Your mad feng-shui man said

that one of us would die but would

save us after he died - twice!

 

Hard Bones gets up and walks to the helicopter.

 

                          HARD BONES

Well, that's once.  Anyway, now it's

time to find out if we can get out

of here.  So, let's do it.

 

SERIES OF SHOTS:  The men and the helicopter:  The pitch change link has been installed.  Preflight inspection:  Switches on, one by one.  Hard Bones squeezes the start lever.  The igniters activate, the turbine WHINES and the blades begin to turn.  Except for the backup hydraulics, all instruments are in the green.

 

Kool-Aid has been watching the rotor blades.  He gives Hard Bones a thumbs up.  The villagers and Taiping women move away.  Hard Bones motions to Pidgin.  Kool-Aid helps an astonished Pidgin into the co-pilot's seat and straps him in.

 

SERIES OF SHOTS:  Hard Bones pulls the chopper up to a hover then accelerates forward across the grassy plateau achieving transational lift just before the tree line perimeter.   

 

SERIES OF SHOTS:  Hard Bones testing the helicopter.  Pidgin's wide eyes.  Bad vibrations when climbing because the blades are not tracking perfectly.  Hard Bones skims ricefields, sending farmers scattering.  Hard Bones rolling and banking the chopper: Pidgin's white knuckles, Pidgin's astonished smile and his queue flying in the wind.

 

EXT. LANDING ZONE - EVENING

 

Suppertime around a fire.  Everyone is eating.  Fox, Kool-Aid and Pidgin are together; Ai-ling and Hard Bones are a short distance off.  The woman seems as wary of Hard Bones as she is fascinated by him.

 

                            PIDGIN

Pidgin walkee topside in flying

dragon ship!  Too muchee faint

heart!  Flying dragon ship can

walkee chop chop allo place!

                              FOX

You said it, Pidgin.  Choppers

are great!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah, choppers is great.  But maybe

next time we flip the coin, if we

win the toss, how about Charlie gets

the choppers and we get the jungle?

 

                              FOX

I'll mention it to General Abrams when

we get back.

 

Kool-Aid and Pidgin are eating Chinese food.  There is a pile of coins in front of them.  They are gambling with a finger-throwing game.  Pidgin throws a small finger; Kool-Aid a thumb.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Damn!  Concubine beats the hus-

band, right?

                            PIDGIN

Yes, mastah, you savvy too muchee!

 

Pidgin happily takes another coin from the pile.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah, well, if I savvy too muchee,

how come I keep losing too muchee?! 

 

As he loses at gambling, Kool-Aid is wolfing down the Chinese food Pidgin has given him.  He notices Hard Bones's food.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hey, Hard Bones, what you eating

that C-ration crap for?  I thought

you into Chinese food.

 

Hard Bones takes a spoonful of C-ration.

 

                          HARD BONES

Some I like; some I don't like.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Well, I can tell you, you is missin'

something here.  This goat meat in

sweet sauce ain't half bad.

 

                            PIDGIN

No, mastah, no goat meat.  This

first chop number one food Swatow

people.

 

                           KOOL-AID

(still eating)

Real fancy shit, huh?  So

what is it?

Pidgin tries to SAY it in English but finally SPEAKS in Chinese to Hard Bones.

 

                          HARD BONES

He says it's a Swatow specialty:

'mice dipped in honey.'

 

Kool-Aid blanches and rushes to some nearby bushes to vomit.  We HEAR the SOUNDS of his vomiting (O.S.)

 

                       HARD BONES (cont)

Yep.  Sure do love these C's.

 

EXT. LANDING ZONE - DAY          

 

It is dawn.  Except for the Taiping guards, everyone is sleeping. Suddenly, the assistant feng-shui man rushes into the landing zone.  He begins SPEAKING hurriedly to Hard Bones.  Hard Bones is not pleased by what he is hearing.

 

                           KOOL-AID

What's up?...OK, on a scale of one

to ten, ten being the worst, where

are we?...OK, twenty being the worst.

 

                          HARD BONES

According to his master's charts,

our best chance of getting out of here

is to leave this morning.  After that,

we won't have another opportunity

until one full Cycle of Cathay passes. 

 

                              FOX

Cycle of Cathay?

 

                          HARD BONES

Sixty years.  According to their

calculations, we should leave during

the Hour of the Dragon at exactly

7:46 a.m.

 

Kool-Aid looks at his watch.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hour and forty minutes!

 

Hard Bones speaks after a few seconds of silence.

 

                          HARD BONES

You know Greenwood's buddies are

just waiting for us to leave so they

can finish these people off.

 

                           KOOL-AID

We don't go now, we don't go at all.

 

                              FOX

There it is.

 

Hard Bones glances at Ai-ling; Kool-Aid looks at Pidgin.  Every- one looks at Hard Bones.  Finally, Hard Bones heads for the chopper.

 

                          HARD BONES

Let's get ready if we're going!

 

Extra food and weapons are given to the villagers and their Taiping allies.  Wizard places trip wires and explosives at the periphery of the clearing.  Kool-Aid gives Pidgin a refresher course in how to throw grenades and reload an M-16.  Hard Bones and Fox prepare the helicopter. 

 

The blacksmith presents Fox with an extremely fine flintlock rifle.  Fox protests but the blacksmith insists.  Hard Bones distributes the steel helmets from the baggage compartment.  He places one on Ai-ling's head and adjusts the strap.

 

Finally, everything is loaded and ready for takeoff.  The crew is inside, again wearing flight helmets.  Hard Bones is rapidly going through startup procedures.  Fox is checking his watch.

 

The blades begin whirling.  Pidgin runs up to the cargo door, takes off his Buddha amulet and hands it to Kool-Aid. Kool-Aid puts it around his neck then looks about for something to give Pidgin.  He takes off his .45 pistol, hands it to Pidgin and gives him a black handshake.  Ai-ling SPEAKS to Hard Bones through the cockpit door.  When he tries to SPEAK to her, she places her fingers to her lips then to his lips and backs away.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

Hard Bones sends the helicopter airborne.  Through the chin bubble and windshield and doorway, the three men see the landing zone very quickly drop away beneath them.  Fox notices the strange look on Hard Bones's face.

 

                              FOX

What'd she say to you?

 

                          HARD BONES

She said not to worry.  She said...

a Taiping woman warrior knows

how to die.

 

Kool-Aid removes his Buddha amulet and hands it to Hard Bones.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Pidgin had the old man carve something

for me.  You read that stuff?

 

Hard Bones studies it and hands it back.

 

                          HARD BONES

 

It says: 'Oh, go and ask that river

flowing to the East, if it can

travel farther than a friend's love.'

 

REACTION SHOT - A DEEPLY MOVED KOOL-AID

 

EXT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

We see a SERIES OF SHOTS as the helicopter flies across hills and between valleys, occasionally shuddering.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

Kool-Aid is looking out the cargo door while Fox is nervously checking his watch.  The men SHOUT to be heard.

 

                              FOX

We can't go faster than this we won't make

it.  You've gotta go over these mountains.

 

Hard Bones struggles with the controls. 

EXT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

The helicopter starts to climb but immediately begins to vibrate dangerously.  It also begins crabbing, a sideways drift. 

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

Hard Bones lowers the collective.  The helicopter stops climbing and the vibrations and drift cease.

 

                          HARD BONES

Damn!  If I keep this up we'll vibrate to bits.

No way I can get over these mountains!

 

                           KOOL-AID

I'd hate to miss the victory celebration!

 

                              FOX

What victory celebration?

 

                           KOOL-AID

When we win in 'nam!   

 

                              FOX

Only victory celebration in 'nam

you'll ever attend is the one

Charlie invites you to!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hell, get me back there and watch

me kick ass!  Hey, Hard Bones!  We

gonna make it or not?..Hard Bones,

are we gonna make it on time?!

 

                              FOX

What's the matter with you?

 

Hard Bones speaks without turning.

 

                          HARD BONES

I'm not leaving them.

 

For a few moments there are only the SOUNDS of the turbine engine and the rotor blades.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Say again?

 

                          HARD BONES

I'm not leaving Chinese on a

mountaintop to die.  Not this

time.  Not again.  I asked for

a second chance: this is it.

 

Hard Bones banks the helicopter and the vibrations increase.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hard Bones, we can't help

them!  We miss this chance,

we'll never get back!

 

                              FOX

He's right, Hard Bones.  This

isn't our...century.

 

                          HARD BONES

I don't give a damn what

century we're in, we still

have to live with ourselves.

 

                              FOX

Hard Bones-

 

                          HARD BONES

I'm the aircraft commander.  I say

again, I'm not leaving them.  You

gentlemen didn't want to be here

you shouldn't have signed up for

the Ch'ing Dynasty Holiday Excursion

Package Tour in the first place!

 

REACTION SHOTS - KOOL-AID and FOX

 

                           KOOL-AID

Look, Hard Bones, I understand how

you feel but think how I feel. 

People who died last century are

alive and well and trying to kill me! 

 

                          HARD BONES

I know some people in 'nam trying

to kill you.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah, right, but in 'nam I only got

Charlie trying to kill me.  Here, I

got pirates and Manchus and Chinese, 

and Tigers of War and-

 

                          HARD BONES

And I say we've been given a second

chance to do the right thing; and this

time I'm not leaving Chinese to die.

 

For several seconds, the men are silent.  Finally, Kool-Aid opens an ammunition crate and begins preparing his M-60 for action.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Well, if you're dumb enough to

challenge a man-o'-war with a

busted-up gunship you'll need a

door-gunner who knows his black

ass from a hole-in-the-ground.

 

           HARDBONES

Thanks, Kool-Aid. 

 

                           KOOL-AID

What the hell.  I can't do any

worse in the 19th century than

I been doin' in the 20th.  Be-

sides, I got a debt to collect

on behalf of Wizard. 

 

Fox doesn't move for several seconds then slowly reaches up and pulls down the pantographic sight of the miniguns.

 

                              FOX

All right, I'm with you.

 

                          HARD BONES

I'm sorry, Fox.

 

                              FOX

Fuck you sorry about?

 

                          HARD BONES

You're married.  You got kids.

 

                              FOX

Hell, that's why I'm with you.

 

                                                  FAST CUT TO:

 

EXT. HELICOPTER FLYING NOSE DOWN AT TOP SPEED - DAY

 

 

EXT. MOUNTAIN - DAY

 

Fighting is raging all the way from the pagoda to the landing zone.  The defenders - villagers and Taipings - on the side of the mountain are making a desperate stand against a much greater force.  Despite their bravery, they are unable to prevent the pirates and their allies from fighting their way up the mountain. 

We see Pidgin (wearing Kool-Aid's battle helmet) use the last of the grenades Kool-Aid gave him.  He is also very accurate with the M-16 but as he reaches for another clip he sees that the ammo box is empty.  He retrieves a flintlock from a fallen companion, loads and fires. 

 

Ai-ling and her warriors are making effective use of their bows-and-arrows.  Chinese combatants on both sides are fighting each other with exotic Chinese weapons in hand-to-hand combat on the ground and in the pagoda.

 

Gathered in the bay at the base of the mountain are dozens of picturesque boats including the "scrambling dragon" and all types of makeshift small Chinese junks, jolly boats, gigs and sampans with sails.  These are the landing crafts of the pirates.

 

Two Tigers of War are about to hurl their spears at a defenseless Pidgin.  Suddenly, we see and HEAR the whummph, whummph, WHUMMPH, of the helicopter as the main rotor blades rise in a cyclic climb above the hill.  For several seconds, all action on the ground is frozen as the combatants look at the rising helicopter in awe.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

                          HARD BONES

They're too close to use the

rockets!  Kool-Aid, I'll make

a pass and you show them what

you can do with that machine

gun of yours.

 

                           KOOL-AID

You got it!

 

EXT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

The chopper rolls over and makes its pass, zooming down the incline at treetop level. Kool-Aid is furiously firing his M-60 machine gun at the pirates nearest the boats.

 

On the ground, the pirates, especially the Chinese, are deathly afraid and throw down their guns and run toward the bay with Pidgin and his friends firing after them.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

We continue to see the action on the ground through the helicopter's windshield, chin bubble and doors.  As the men on board SPEAK, Hard Bones begins a climb.

                              FOX

If we're goin' after the frigate

I don't think we should use much

ammo on those boats.

 

                          HARD BONES

We might not have to use any ammo.

 

                              FOX

How's that?

 

                          HARD BONES

Remember when Major White took his

main Vietnamese squeeze out in his

fiberglass sloop at Qui Nhon?

 

                              FOX

Yeah.  And somebody came along in a

gunship and flared so the chopper's

rotor wash blew the Major and his

Vietnamese honey into the South

China Sea.

 

                           KOOL-AID

You sayin' that was you?

 

                          HARD BONES

I'm just sayin' it's a tactic

that's worth a try.

 

                           KOOL-AID

(laughing)

Man, I never saw a major so mad.

 

                              FOX

Or so wet!

 

EXT. BAY - DAY

 

Hard Bones banks the vibrating helicopter, dead-drops in place for a few seconds, and then rolls in for a pass flying the helicopter three feet above the water at 140 knots.  About two hundred yards from each vessel, the helicopter flares back, tail skimming the water, skids raised karate-style, and sends its rotor wash to fill mainsails, jibs and mizzen sails.  One by one, as the helicopter zigzags forward, each of the small boats is capsized by the rotor wash. 

 

Panic-stricken Chinese pirates and their crews jump ignominiously into the South China Sea.  Hard Bones works the controls, abruptly sending the nose down, buzzes straight over the capsized vessels and streaks off into the distance. 

 

                          HARD BONES

Now let's find that fucking boat.

 

 

EXT. DECK OF FRIGATE - DAY

 

Greenwood is walking across the quarterdeck of the ship.  He suddenly stops and listens.  He hears the faint but increasingly LOUD SOUND of whump, WHUUMP, WHUUMP!  He runs across the deck, readying his weapon while SHOUTING.

 

                           GREENWOOD

The chopper!  Get the men to

battle stations!

 

The pirate chief speaks through his brass speaking trumpet.

 

                         PIRATE CHIEF

Clear the decks for battle!  Hands

to quarters!

 

We see and hear the boatswains' mates' SHRILL PIPES alerting all hands and the drummer's ROLL OF THE DRUM sending them to battle stations.  In a SERIES OF SHOTS men rush about, swiftly clearing for action.

 

A man at the bow of the ship on the headrails answering the call of nature hurriedly pulls up his breeches and joins other men scurrying up the ratlines of the shrouds.  Men rush to prepare rows of Congreve rockets set out along port and starboard, bow and stern.

 

                       GUN CREW CAPTAINS

Clear for action!  Cast loose your

guns! 

 

Cannon and swivel guns on the main deck are being uncovered and untied.  Minie rifles, muskets, flintlocks and cutlasses are rapidly drawn from the arms locker and passed to crew members. 

 

Men scramble up the rigging to man the fighting tops with rifles. Sails and decks are splashed with water to protect against fire.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

Hard Bones slows the chopper and, with great effort, manages to keep it in a perfect hover.  Through the windshield, the masts and sails of the frigate appear in the distance.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Thar she blows!        

 

                              FOX

That's for spotting whales, you

idiot!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Oh, ain't you Moby Fucking Dick! 

Well, I got a dick you can-

 

 

                          HARD BONES

All right, listen up!  we are about

to go into battle with a very formidable

adversary and if you don't want your

collective ass blown all over the

South China Sea, then I suggest you

start taking this seriously!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Aye aye, Captain, one cannon ball

hits this chopper and we're history.

 

                          HARD BONES

You're forgetting we already are

history, Kool-Aid.

 

                              FOX

They want to surrender, they just

haul down their flag, right?

 

                          HARD BONES

Yep.  They strike their colors.

 

                              FOX

How do we communicate if we want to

surrender?

 

Hard Bones glances back at Kool-Aid and then at Fox.

 

                          HARD BONES

We kick Kool-Aid out of the helicopter.

 

REACTION SHOT - KOOL-AID

 

INT. BELOW DECKS OF SHIP - DAY

 

While the powder monkeys rush gunpowder and shot from the shot lockers up to the cannon crews, men frantically rush to the gun deck.  Chests, casks and tables, whatever might splinter during battle, are rushed to the hold or simply cast overboard.

 

In a SERIES OF SHOTS we see inside various dimly lit rooms: the ship's carpenter quickly setting out his tools and materials ready to repair any damage which enemy fire inflicts on rigging or hull;  the ship's surgeon laying out his instruments - including saws and "dismembring blades" - ready to deal with the inevitable carnage of battle.

 

Men working by the glassed-off dim light of spark-proof lanterns carefully removing canvas-covered tubes of gunpowder.  An American pirate retrieving a cross from his slop chest, kissing it, and placing it around his neck.  Chinese sailors kneeling before the shrine of the Goddess of Heaven.

 

Well-armed sentries guard the fore and aft hatches preventing men from hiding in the hold during battle.

 

At the gun deck, all gunport lids are raised.  Crews spread sand and salt on the deck so they will not slip in their own blood. 

 

We see the guns of the port and starboard batteries being untied and men hauling on the train-tackles until the thick breech ropes are taut.  Each cannon is readied for firing and is then run out with its muzzle pointing through the gunport.  The crews then stand by with lit hemp cords on their lint stocks (slow matches) for the order to fire.

 

Men employ a handspike under the gun carriage to maneuver the cannon left or right toward the helicopter.  As the above actions are occurring, each gun crew's captain SHOUTS out the same orders, one after the other.  One man vomits from fright.

 

                         GUN CAPTAINS

Load your guns!...Run out your guns!...

Prime!...Point your guns!...Full

elevation!

 

The gun crews elevate the guns to maximum elevation. 

 

                      GUN CAPTAINS (cont)

Stand to your guns!...Steady...

Steady...Make ready!...

 

POV - HELICOPTER CREW

 

Hard Bones has edged the helicopter closer to the frigate.  The ship is a magnificent sight:  Its sails are billowing in the breeze and the bows of the ship are gracefully rising and falling in the rolling waves. 

 

Its skull-and-bones pirate ensign at the mizzen-peak and colorful pennants at the other masts are flying in the breeze.  Facing the helicopter are grinning tiers of cannon, 24-pounders on the main deck and 32-pounders on the gun deck.

 

Beneath the low cloud bank, sea gulls are trailing the ship.  Occasional whitecaps break the swell of the pea-green sea.  Hard Bones keeps pace with the ship as it plows through the waves at about ten knots.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

The chopper's altitude is only slightly higher than the height of the mainmast.  The helicopter crew is in awe at the sight of the frigate in full sail.  

 

                          HARD BONES

My God, it's beautiful!

 

                              FOX

Yeah, beautiful like a scorpion.

 

                          HARD BONES

How's that?

                              FOX

They got their rockets positioned

at both bow and stern so that however

we approach we face either rockets

or cannon or both.

 

             KOOL-AID

Their mainmast must be over

two hundred feet high!  How

in hell did pirates get hold

of something like that?

 

                          HARD BONES

The Manchus bought it from the

British to fight the Taipings.

Then the pirates grabbed it.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hot damn, Uncle Sam!

 

EXT. FRIGATE - DAY

 

The men on deck have rushed to the starboard side to stare at the helicopter.

 

                            PIRATE

Jesus in heaven, it's the devil!

 

                         SECOND PIRATE

We'll all be in Davy Jones's Locker

before this day is over.

 

The men manning the cannons are obviously very much afraid.  Some are crossing themselves.  One or two begin to desert their posts. They almost run into the pirate captain.

 

                        PIRATE CAPTAIN

Get back to your posts!

 

One of them hesitates while the other keeps running toward the forwardmost hatch.  The pirate captain pulls a pistol from his belt.

 

                        PIRATE CAPTAIN

Goddamn ye!  Stand to your guns!

 

The man continues running.  The pirate captain aims the flintlock at him and fires.  The back of the man's head is blown away.  The other men return to their posts.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

The men on the helicopter prepare for battle, readying the machine gun, flicking switches, pressing buttons, arming rockets, positioning the gunsight, etc.

 

 

                           KOOL-AID

I always thought I would die

in bed. 

 

                              FOX

You will.  A riverbed.

 

                           KOOL-AID

That's real funny, Fox.

 

                          HARD BONES

Nothing like facing a cannon ball

from a pirate ship in the South

China Sea to give a man a new

perspective on life.

 

                              FOX

Yeah, Kool-Aid, we lose this one

and you get a real colorful

obituary.

 

                           KOOL-AID

No way, man.  Let's slam-dunk

these fuckers!

 

                           HARDBONES

Guns ready?

 

                              FOX

Ready.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Ready.

 

EXT. BATTLE SCENE - DAY 

 

Hard Bones flies the helicopter several hundred yards beyond the bow of the ship and then turns the helicopter to face it.  As the helicopter noses slowly forward, the frigate plows through the waves straight toward it.  It is as if two automobiles facing each other in a narrow alley are revving up to play chicken.  We CUT BACK AND FORTH between the determined expressions of men on the ship and in the helicopter:

 

Between the sinister female figurehead of the frigate and the woman on the helicopter's nose art; from the mainmast and mizzenmast of the ship to the main rotor and tail rotor of the helicopter.  From the tattooed forearms of the gunners (with mermaids and sea monsters) to the gloved hands of Hard Bones and Fox.  From the ship's compass and binnacle to the helicopter's instrument panel.  From the ship's wheel to the chopper's cyclic and collective.

 

From the pods of the helicopter's rockets to the metallic cases on the Congreve rockets.  From the muzzles of the cannon to the muzzles of the six-barrelled mini guns of the helicopter.  From the olive green flight helmets to the pirates' black knit stocking caps and tarpaulin hats. 

 

From gunners blowing on the ends of the lit "slow matches," ready to touch their glowing ends to the priming powder to Kool-Aid's finger on his M-60 machine gun.  From the SILENCE on deck and CREAKING of timber and rigging and CRIES of the sea gulls to the SOUNDS of the turbine engine and rotors of the helicopter.  From the Jolly Roger flying in the breeze to the UNITED STATES ARMY on the helicopter's tail boom.

 

EXT. SHORE - DAY

 

We see the Chinese gathered at the shore watching the two specks in the distance.  The CAMERA moves in for a CLOSE-UP of the ferocious tiger face painted on the rattan shield of a fallen Chinese tiger of war. 

 

EXT. FRIGATE - DAY

 

The CAMERA moves in for a CLOSE-UP of the fierce lion face carved into the frigate's starboard cathead.

EXT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

The CAMERA moves in for a CLOSE-UP of the face of the dragon.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

Hard Bones peers at the ship through modern binoculars and on the foredeck a smirking Greenwood is staring back through a three-drawer brass telescope of the period.  He is wearing two sets of ears around his neck.

 

Greenwood gestures upward and Hard Bones moves the binoculars in that direction.  He pauses, then hands the binoculars to Fox. 

 

                           HARDBONES

Mainmast!  Right at the top.

 

Fox moves the binoculars to the top of the mainmast then stops abruptly.  He hands the binoculars to Kool-Aid.  Kool-Aid moves them to the top of the mainmast and focuses.

 

POV - KOOL-AID

 

Just below a colorful banner, we see Wizard's head secured to the mast, bobbing in the wind.  His ears have been cut off.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

Kool-Aid slowly takes the binoculars from his eyes.  Mixed with his tears is determination and the need for revenge. 

 

                           KOOL-AID

That makes it personal.

 

Hard Bones takes all weapons off safety.  Red lights on.

 

                          HARD BONES

Going hot!

 

EXT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

Flying just beneath the massive cloud bank, less than two hundred and fifty feet above sea level, the helicopter banks, lowers its nose and flies forward, toward the frigate's starboard bow.

 

EXT. BATTLE SCENE - DAY

 

A round of missiles is fired at the frigate.  They WHOOSH in around the ship in curved, inaccurate trajectories, churning up water but none hitting the ship.  Fox depresses the "deadman" switch and opens up with the chopper's mini guns.  Bullet holes appear in the sails and deck; various spars of the frigate are blown apart into flying scraps of wood.  Several bullet holes appear in the face of the figurehead. 

 

Men in the fighting tops aiming minie rifles at the helicopter fall wounded into the sea.  Congreve rockets are fired from the frigate's bow, making a horrible WHOOSH and SCREAM as they narrowly miss the helicopter.

 

EXT. MAIN DECK OF FRIGATE - DAY

 

                        PIRATE CAPTAIN

Standby to tack ship! 

 

As the men carry out their orders, we HEAR each order repeated down the line.  We see the men on the ship going through a frantic tactical maneuver and the ship's bow passing through the eye of the wind.  As tacking takes several minutes, the maneuver is intercut with battle scenes.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

                          HARD BONES

She's tacking. 

 

Hard Bones presses the button sending more rockets out.

 

EXT. MAIN DECK OF FRIGATE - DAY

 

Rockets whiz about the ship to plunge harmlessly into the water, only one tearing away some rigging as it passes.

 

INT. GUN DECK OF FRIGATE - DAY

 

                       GUN CREW CAPTAINS

Discharge cannon on the uproll!  Load

quick and fire high!  Fire as you bear!

 

As the cannon are fired, the gunners jump aside to avoid the cannon's enormous recoil.  Guns plunge inboard straining against their tackles.  The men beside the cannon hold their ears and we hear enormous EXPLOSIONS of discharging cannon and see smoke pouring out of the barrels and from the vent holes of the cannon. 

 

EXT. MAIN DECK OF FRIGATE - DAY

 

On deck, congreve rockets are roaring out toward the helicopter. Men are pointing rifles and firing the smaller deck cannon. 

 

A rocket from the helicopter passes just over the deck but explodes at the ship's stern destroying sheep pens and hen coops, sending the surviving ducks and geese rushing about the deck mad with fright. 

 

Greenwood, clutching his M-16, runs to the starboard shroud of the mainmast, climbs a few of the ratlines, aims at the chopper and fires.

 

                        PIRATE CAPTAIN

Fire at will!

 

                         GUN CAPTAINS

Fire at will!

 

INT. GUN DECK - DAY

 

Thick smoke is swirling about the gun deck greatly hindering anyone from seeing anything.  Despite pushing their thumbs into their ears as the cannons are fired, some of the men are soon not able to hear anything in the incredible NOISE.  They are temporarily deafened.  As the helicopter's miniguns spray the gun deck through the gunports, we see lips moving and men SCREAMING in unbearable agony but we can't HEAR the sounds. 

 

In a ferocious battle scene being carried out in eerie SILENCE, they work with the guns, sponging out barrels and reloading, by making and following gestures.  In the horror of battle we see lips moving as follows:

 

GUN CREW CAPTAINS

Stop the vent!...Sponge!...Load!...

Run out!...Prime!...Point!...Elevate!...

ready...

 

POV - MEN ON HELICOPTER

 

Columns of smoke from the frigate's cannons are eddying about her cordage and, immediately after, some cannon balls and rockets splash in the water below the helicopter and some pass just beside it.  Only then does the BOOMING OF CANNON reach the ears of the men in the helicopter.

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

                              FOX

That was close!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Jesus Christ!  I'm actually

getting shot at by a fucking

cannon ball?! 

 

Kool-Aid fires his machine gun at men on the ship as congreve rockets whiz by the helicopter.  One rocket passes right through the cargo area of the helicopter, in one cargo door and out the other.

 

REACTION SHOT - A STUNNED KOOL-AID

 

As cannon blast and BOOM from below, the men on the helicopter watch the approach of a chain-shot style cannonball as it heads right for the cockpit, then passes just over it briefly entangling itself in the main rotor blades before passing on.

 

The helicopter shudders terribly, then returns to normal.  The men stare at one another, knowing how close they came to death.

 

 

EXT. BATTLE SCENE - DAY

 

As the helicopter flies over the ship, Greenwood fires his M-16 and other crew members fire swivel guns, flintlocks and minie rifles.  Bullets PING and SNIP off the helicopter. 

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

Kool-Aid SHOUTS to Fox.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Hear that?

 

                              FOX

What?

 

                           KOOL-AID

My favorite breakfast cereal:

snap, crackle and pop!

 

EXT. BATTLE SCENE - DAY

 

As Hard Bones flies low over the frigate's deck, skimming lines and sails, Kool-Aid throws grenades out the cargo door, one after the other.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Bon voyage, motherfucker! 

 

Below we see the first two grenades explode on the deck of the ship killing and wounding several of the crew.

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

Hard Bones suddenly banks to narrowly avoid a congreve rocket, and we see the third of Kool-Aid's grenades hit the inner roof of the helicopter and land near the door.  Kool-Aid kicks it out just in time and it explodes very close to the chopper.

 

                              FOX

Whose side are you on?!

 

EXT. BATTLE SCENE - DAY

 

As the helicopter flies off to make another pass, cannon from the other side of the ship open fire in a furious discharge, again narrowly missing the Huey.  The frigate is rocked by the power of its own broadside. 

 

Congreve rockets continue to whiz past the helicopter as it turns, banks and again flies nose down straight at the ship.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

                          HARD BONES

All right, gentlemen, the wheel

stops now - place your bets.

 

Hard Bones begins skillful maneuvering with his controls - collective, cyclic, anti-torque rotor. 

 

EXT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

The Huey comes to a quick stop, darts backward, sideways, then hovers again, throwing off the aim of anyone on the ship.  The chopper then lowers its nose and continues toward the frigate.  Fox is holding the hand grip of his mini gun sight, peering through the sight, firing in short bursts.  Suddenly, the guns jam.  Fox presses the trigger desperately trying to fire them.

 

                              FOX

Damn!  She's jammed!

 

Hard Bones lets loose with several pair of rockets.

 

EXT. MAIN DECK OF FRIGATE - DAY

 

Again the rocket trajectory is skewered but this time one passes through the main topgallant sail before landing in the water while another passes by the bow of the ship destroying the figurehead.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

                          HARD BONES

I can't hit them this way!  I'm

goin' in close!

 

                              FOX

That's suicide!  You'll place us right

in front of their cannon muzzles!

 

                          HARD BONES

Can't help it!  The rockets won't fly

straight and I've only got two left! 

I'm goin' in!

 

Fox GROANS in protest and picks up his flintlock.  He cocks the hammer and pushes the barrel out.

 

EXT. BATTLE SCENE - DAY

 

The helicopter flies toward the ship, almost at deck level.  The last two rockets leave the helicopter just as the frigate's cannon flash in a ferocious broadside.

 

INT. GUN DECK OF FRIGATE - DAY

 

We see the approach of the helicopter from the POV of cannon crews watching through their open gunports.  As they fire their cannon, the rockets from the helicopter crash into them, instantly incinerating some while sending a mass of lethal splinters into other men who begin SCREAMING.  Gun crew captains SHOUT orders to load and fire even as their men slip in the blood of their own wounds.  A loose cannon crushes a man to death.

EXT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

The helicopter rises above the deck of the ship as the cannon balls whiz a few feet below the cockpit.  A cannon ball destroys one of the skids of the chopper, knocking the helicopter off center until Hard Bones manages to straighten it. 

 

Bullets smash into the helicopter's skin.  One of the pirates throws a grappling hook at the helicopter which catches its main rotor blades, then flies off.  Fox kills the man with his flintlock.  The helicopter SOUNDS as if it is about to fly apart.

 

INT. BELOW DECKS OF FRIGATE - DAY

 

SERIES OF SHOTS:  Wounded men are being carried down to the "cockpit" where the surgeon is operating.  Men are being held down while their limbs are amputated; their only pain-killer: rum.  The bucket of amputated, tattooed limbs is filling fast.  Men are CURSING, SCREAMING, PRAYING, dying.

 

In the gun deck, the overworked gunners are sponging out barrels of overheated cannon.  The men are stripped to the waist, their bodies glistening with sweat and smeared with the blood of those fallen, and their arms and faces are black from the smoke.  Dead men are quickly thrown through the portholes into the water.   

 

The ship's carpenters are desperately trying to repair holes in the hull with wooden shot plugs and lead sheets.  But the destruction caused by the rockets is too great and the ship is now taking on water. 

EXT. MAIN DECK OF FRIGATE - DAY

 

Flames race up the sail hit by the rocket and sparks from its fire cause several small fires below.  Men rush about with wet blankets and buckets of water and sand to deal with the fires.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

As Hard Bones is trying to keep the vibrating helicopter steady it flies in erratic paths about the ship. Kool-Aid opens up with his machine gun. 

 

                              FOX

Try to start more fires, Kool-Aid!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Don't you worry, my man, red sails

in the sunset is my specialty!

 

EXT. MAIN DECK OF FRIGATE - DAY

 

The machine gun riddles the frigate's masts, yards and sails and cuts rigging to pieces.  Spars are splintered.  Men fall from rigging and fighting tops.  Lines break loose and whip through pulley-blocks; bullets ring the ship's bell.  On deck amid growing chaos the ships' mates SCREAM at men trying desperately to replace lines and torn-away sails CRACKING in the wind. 

 

The pirate captain rushes to lower their "colors" to surrender. 

 

                           GREENWOOD

Hey!  What the hell you think

you're doing?!

 

                        PIRATE CAPTAIN

My men are being massacred!  I'm

surrendering the ship!   

 

                           GREENWOOD

(to himself)

The hell you will.

 

Greenwood aims his M-16 and fires a long burst sending the captain over the gunwale and into the sea.

 

EXT. BATTLE SCENE - DAY

 

As the helicopter makes another pass, Greenwood climbs hurriedly aloft to the royal yard, high above the deck of the ship.  He walks out along the footrope below a tattered sail and leans out precariously.  He fires his M-16 at the helicopter, adding still more bullet holes to the windshield. 

  

 

INT. HELICOPTER – DAY

 

As bullets ricochet inside the cockpit and cargo area, one grazes Hard Bones's hand; another grazes his leg.  Gages are shattered. As thick, acrid smoke pours from an electrical fire in the cockpit, Fox wields the hand fire extinguisher.

 

EXT. BATTLE SCENE - DAY

 

Hard Bones makes no attempt to evade the fire and we hear the PINGS of the bullets and see a few pass through the helicopter's windshield.  Hard Bones seems about to pass by, drawing Greenwood to lean out even farther.  Greenwood aims directly at Hard Bones.

 

                           GREENWOOD

Bye bye, asshole.

 

Hard Bones suddenly banks the chopper and dead-drops several feet.

 

CLOSE UP - Greenwood belatedly attempting to duck back in.  As he grabs for a line while still aiming at Hard Bones, he accidentally grabs Wizard's wildly bobbing head.  As Greenwood reacts and lets go, he loses his balance and backs too far out. 

 

A blade from the main rotor of the chopper cuts through the backstays and braces and instantly severs Greenwood's head from its body. 

 

His severed head slams against the chopper's Plexiglas windshield, smashing the windshield to pieces, then continues on downward and into the sea.  The body tumbles onto various lines spinning and cartwheeling to the deck.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

Hard Bones turns toward Wizard's head and salutes.

 

A shot from a swivel gun rips off the Huey's chin bubble beneath Hard Bones's feet.  Blood drips from his hand.  Hard Bones pulls hard on the collective and the helicopter roars upward.  The red hydraulics light comes on.  The chopper shudders dangerously and begins spiraling toward the water.

 

EXT. CHINESE ON SHORE - DAY

 

The action has moved closer to shore and the Chinese watch the helicopter's plunge with great concern.  Pidgin jumps into a dinghy and SCREAMS at others to jump in and row.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

As the sea rushes toward them, Hard Bones works the controls and manages to stabilize the helicopter seconds before it would have crashed.  He begins a dangerously shuddering ascent.  The helicopter is vibrating and making an incredible RACKET.

 

EXT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

In a CLOSE-UP on the rotor blades and fuselage of the helicopter, we see bamboo strips and ox-hide leather strips tearing.  Lines from the ship are entangled in the main rotor blades.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

                          HARD BONES

Let me make one more pass.  That's

all I ask.  Then I can die happy.

 

EXT. BATTLE SCENE - DAY

 

On the next pass Kool-Aid's machine gun bullets riddle the main deck.  The British pirate Hard Bones tied up is standing on the quarterdeck, aiming Kool-Aid's M-16 at the helicopter.  As he fires, machine gun bullets slam into his body.  As he falls to the deck, burning rigging and spars crash on top of him.

 

Flames begin licking up the spars, smoldering along the rigging, and swallowing the yards until, as one by one the masts let go, a flaming mass of wood and cordage hurls itself into the sea with a hissing cloud of steam. 

 

INT. MAGAZINE ROOM OF FRIGATE - DAY

 

A seaman is running from flames licking at spilled gunpowder.

 

                            SEAMAN

Fire in the magazine!  Abandon ship!

 

EXT. BATTLE SCENE - DAY

 

Suddenly, with an enormous ROAR, the frigate explodes.  After the bright white flame, a tremendous spiral of smoke gushes skyward. Debris fills the sky.  The Jolly Roger pirate ensign is blown into the helicopter's tail rotor blades.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

                           KOOL-AID

We did it!

 

Suddenly there is a LOUD BANG.  The helicopter begins a sudden and fast descent. 

 

                          HARD BONES

We're hit!  Must be debris from the

explosion!  We're going down! 

 

Fox observes Hard Bones beginning the emergency autorotation sequence.  They SHOUT to each other.

 

                              FOX

We're too damn low for a

controlled autorotation!

                          HARD BONES

Who said anything about 'controlled'?!

 

EXT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

The force of uprushing air pinwheels the rotor blades providing  an unsteady but controlled decent toward the water, but as it moves forward in its erratic glide, the chopper begins spinning.

 

INT. HELICOPTER - DAY

 

                          HARD BONES

No tail rotor!  Prepare for

hard landing!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Flare!  Flare!  Flare!

 

As they near the ground Hard Bones frantically works the controls to maintain the forward airspeed and slow the descent.  Just before impact, the craft glides above the water and then slowly settles into it.  Hard Bones rolls it to stop the blades, and water immediately rushes in through the cargo doors and into the cockpit.  The men unbuckle their seat harnesses and crawl out.

 

EXT. SEA - DAY

 

The three whip off their flight helmets and swim toward shore.  The Chinese are furiously rowing out boats to aid them.  The men scramble into the boats.  Pidgin grabs hold of Kool-Aid and helps haul him in.  Kool-Aid grimaces in pain.

 

                            PIDGIN

Mastah, you come back!  How you dooa?

 

                           KOOL-AID

I just had my sorry black ass

autorotated by a maniac pilot

and you ask, 'How I dooa?'

 

                            PIDGIN

But you come back!

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah.  I missed the food.

 

Pidgin, with tears in his eyes, stares at Kool-Aid.  Kool-Aid begins a black handshake which Pidgin returns perfectly.  Kool-Aid then gives him a hug.

 

They are quickly rowed to shore where they join the others. 

  

 

EXT. SHORE - DAY

 

Ai-ling walks to Hard Bones, removes her helmet and headscarf and begins wiping the blood from his hand.  Hard Bones moves his hand to her cheek.  She reacts as if to pull back but then allows him to keep it there until she gently brings it down.  For a few moments they watch the hulk of the frigate burn and the helicopter disappear beneath the waves. 

 

Pidgin takes off Kool-Aid's steel helmet and places it on Kool-Aid's head.  Ai-ling places Hard Bones's helmet on his head.  The old man removes Fox's helmet and places it on his head.

 

Hard Bones glances at Kool-Aid.  He reaches up to the band on Kool-Aid's helmet, pulls out the spoon and throws it away.  He then gestures to the old man's chopstick holder at his belt.  The old man smiles and gives it to Hard Bones who places the chopsticks in the band where the spoon had been.  Other Chinese replace Fox's spoon and Hard Bones's spoon with chopsticks. 

 

                          HARD BONES

That makes it official. 

 

Hard Bones whips out a smart salute.

 

                       HARD BONES (cont)

Gentlemen, welcome to the Ch'ing

Dynasty.

 

Kool-Aid and Fox return the salutes.

 

                              FOX

You think anybody will remember

us back there?

 

                           KOOL-AID

Yeah.  Major White.  He'd like

to courtmartial our ass for

disappearing with his chopper.

 

Led by Hard Bones, the group begins slowly walking away from the scene.  Kool-Aid looks at the women warriors of the Taiping army walking with them.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Whatever happened to the Taipings,

anyway?

 

                          HARD BONES

They almost won.  Then the British

and Americans weighed in on the

Manchu side and the Taipings were

massacred.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Oh, what the hell.  Even Clark Gable

went for the losing side in Gone With

the Wind.

 

                              FOX

That's it, Kool-Aid.  You can be the

Clark Gable of the Ch'ing Dynasty.

 

Kool-Aid glances at one of the attractive women Taiping soldiers who smiles back at him.

 

                           KOOL-AID

Fucking-A right I can!

 

Hard Bones and Fox exchange smiles.

 

As the group turns to take one last look at the still burning and smoldering wreckage of the frigate HISSING in the water, the CAMERA TILTS UP to the sky.  The cloud bank is dissolving and patches of light are shining through individual clouds, brilliantly backlighting others. 

 

The scene DISSOLVES to a MATCH CUT and the clouds become reflections on the highly polished, fine-grained black granite wall panels of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C.  Even as we begin to hear the (V.O.) WHUMPH of the Huey's rotor blades, the CAMERA CHANGES FOCUS and we see the names of each of the six men, and a cross beside each name (which, on the wall, symbolizes missing in action or unaccounted for).  

 

The CAMERA SLOWLY PULLS BACK to a BIRD'S EYE VIEW of the wall, Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument.  FX:  Loud rotor blades.

 

FADE OUT

 

                                          THE END  

 

 

 

 

Copyright Dean Barrett 2015