Off Limits
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChristopher Crowe
Written byChristopher Crowe
Jack Thibeau
Produced byAlan Barnette
CinematographyDavid Gribble
Edited byDouglas Ibold
Music byJames Newton Howard
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
March 11, 1988
Running time
102 minutes
Budget$12 million
Box office$7.2 million

Off Limits is a 1988 action-thriller film set during the Vietnam War starring Willem Dafoe and Gregory Hines and directed by Christopher Crowe. The term "off limits" referred to the area where the original crime took place, an area of Saigon off limits to military personnel. The name of the film was changed to Saigon or Saigon: Off Limits when it was released throughout the rest of the world.

The film marks Willem Dafoe's second Vietnam War film. He was assisted in preparing for this role by Vietnam Veteran and former Counterintelligence Special Agent Ed Murphy. Dafoe had previously starred in Platoon and would go on to play roles in Born on the Fourth of July and Flight of the Intruder. Although set during the war, the tale is more of a mystery than a story about the war.


Sergeant First Class Buck McGriff (Willem Dafoe) and Sergeant First Class Albaby Perkins (Gregory Hines) are two joint services Criminal Investigation Division (CID) agents on duty in war torn Saigon. When a prostitute is found murdered they discover that the prime suspects are high ranking U.S. Army officers. As they investigate they find that there have been a string of at least six murders in the last year, but the previous inquiry was shut down from higher up the chain of command. Investigations lead them to Colonel Dexter Armstrong (Scott Glenn), but Armstrong rules himself out of inquiries by committing suicide. With the help of a French nun Sister Nicole (Amanda Pays) and their non-commissioned officer in charge, Master Sergeant Dix (Fred Ward), they finally close in on their target. As their investigation leads them closer and closer to the murderer, they find their lives are in danger and they end up nearly being sent home. The movie ends with an unexpected twist when they rule out all their suspects by conducting an interview in a Viet Cong tunnel base, and their NCO is the killer.



The movie received a mixed reception.[1][2][3] It holds an approval rating of 50% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 10 reviews.[4]

Box office

The movie was not successful at the box office.[5] However, it later found its audience on home video and on cable TV, primarily HBO.


  1. ^ Maslin, Janet (1988-03-11). "Movie Review - Off Limits - Review/Film; 'Off Limits,' a Thriller -". Retrieved 2012-06-26.
  2. ^ Thomas, Kevin (1988-03-11). "Saigon, 1968 Makes for a Strictly 'Off Limits' Police Action Thriller - Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 2012-06-26.
  3. ^ "Off Limits - Reviews". 1988-03-11. Retrieved 2012-06-26.
  4. ^ "Off Limits".
  5. ^ Klady, Leonard (1989-01-08). "Box Office Champs, Chumps : The hero of the bottom line was the 46-year-old 'Bambi'". Los Angeles Times. p. 2. Retrieved 2012-06-26.