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File:Three-kings-1999-1 461.jpg

"We three kings be stealing the gold.."


Three Kings is a 1999 movie directed by David O. Russell and starring George Clooney, Ice Cube, Mark Wahlberg, and Spike Jonze.

It's a comedy/drama set during the Iraqi uprising at the end of the 1991 Iraq/U.S. War, also known as Operation Desert Storm. During the surrender of Iraqi soldiers, one Iraqi soldier is found to be concealing a map that ends up showing the location of gold that Saddam Hussein had plundered from Kuwait.

The four American soldiers sneak away from the camp, sending their attached journalist on a wild goose chase with another soldier, in order to find and steal the gold. Naturally, wacky hijinks ensue and the four soldiers become involved in the uprising.


This movie contains examples of:

  • Batman Gambit: The soldiers and their rebel allies play this card on the guards of the Oasis Bunker, which holds Troy Barlow as a prisoner. Arriving in a fleet of luxury cars, one rebel dressed as an Iraqi general yells at the soldiers for their "failures" and claims that Saddam Hussein is coming to personally execute them. It gets most of the garrison to run away, making it easier for the Americans and the rebels to get inside and rescue Barlow.
  • Banned in China: Banned in Iraq, of course. Until things changed.
  • Can You Hear Me Now: Troy manages to call his wife on a Kuwaiti cell phone from a FORTIFIED BUNKER.
  • ~Chekhov's Gun~:
    • Major Gates describes sepsis during a graphic shot of a bullet penetrating internal organs. Later, one character is shot in the chest and another character dies of sepsis.
    • The Nerf football rigged with C-4. Conrad Vig has an entire bag of them, and Chief Elgin uses one to take out a helicopter.
  • Child Soldier: One young boy was sniping Iraqi soldiers from a tower while the main characters retreated. The tank took care of him.
  • Distracted From Death: Conrad dies unnoticed from a shoulder wound while everyone is tending to the seemingly more seriously injured Troy.
  • Electric Torture: Troy. Incidentally, Mark Wahlberg was shocked for real during his torture scenes.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Subverted with Maj. Gates, as he is a decorated Ranger/Special Forces officer who is serving with Delta Force for his last month in the Army.
  • Gulf War
  • Hollywood Density: Played straight with the characters tossing and carrying gold bars. Somewhat averted with the suitcases, which rip immediately when picked up (although in real life the other suitcases would not be able to handle the load they did, either).
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Semi-lampshaded. Chief Elgin pistol whips an Iraqi soldier and his gun fires a round, which sends everyone diving for cover to avoid the ricochet. Afterward Gates tells him to keep his finger off the trigger.
  • Meaningful Name: "Three Kings" is one of the names given to the Biblical Magi.
  • No One Gets Left Behind
  • Southern-Fried Private: Conrad Vig. For one, he's easily the dumbest of the four, he calls Iraqis "dune coons", and he repeatedly threatens to shoot Iraqi prisoners whenever dealing with them.
  • Treasure Map: Found in a surrendering soldier's butt, and referred to as the "Iraqi ass map".
  • Where Are They Now? Epilogue
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