Eric St. John Portrays Real American War Hero in New Film


Marina del Rey, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 05/19/2015 -- The movie premiere of Ride the Thunder shocked the film industry by being number one in the nation for box office revenue.*

Ride the Thunder, the "proud to be an American film", expands to theaters throughout the Nation.

* Rentrak: 03/27/15 to 03/29/15 on a per theater basis

"Ride The Thunder" honors our Vietnam veterans and the Vietnamese by telling the suppressed truth of the War. The feature film is based on the heroic true story of a friendship between American Marine legend, John Ripley and Vietnamese hero, Marine Le Ba Binh. The storyline follows their fight together against the communists during the Vietnam War and then the ensuing aftermath of the fall of Vietnam asRipley goes home to a divided America while Binh is imprisoned in a Communist re-education camp. The Vietnamese cast in the film are refugees and boat people from Vietnam.The movie is adapted from the book with the same title by retired Marine officer Richard Botkin.

"I waited 40 years for this Movie!!"
~ Greg Gillaspy, President Vietnam Veterans of America #1024

"The President needs to see this Film!!"
~ Captain USMC Ed McCourt, two tours Vietnam

"A Magnificent Film...sets the record straight!!"
~ Colonel USMC Andy Finlayson, two tours Vietnam

"I loved it!! I saw it twice!!"
~ Hugh Hewitt – Syndicated National Talk show Host

"A movie young generations must experience!!"
~ Kieu Chinh – Legendary Actress

May 22, 2015 Oceanside, CA Regal Stadium 16
"Meet & Greet" Saturday 5/23 at 3:30pm
401 Mission Avenue Oceanside, CA 92054

San Jose, CA
Camera Twelve Downtown Theater
"Meet & Greet" Friday 5/22 at 6:30pm
201 South Second StreetSan Jose, CA 95113

May 29, 2015 Houston, TX
Houston Edwards Marq'e Stadium 23
7620 Katy Freeway Houston, TX 77024

San Antonio, TX Regal Cielo Vista Mills 25
828 Cinema Ridge San Antonio, TX 78238

Tempe, AZ Harkins Arizona Mills 25
"Meet & Greet" Friday 5/29 time TBA
5000 Arizona Mills Cir. Tempe, AZ 85282

Las Vegas, NV Regal Village Square Stadium 18
9400 W. Sahara Ave. Las Vegas, NV 89117

June, 2015 Locations TBA
July, 2015 Locations TBA

Website & Trailer:

Rated PG-13 due to graphic war testimonials, some violence and brief strong language.

A leading character in the book and film,the late U.S. Marine Capt. John Ripley, showed exceptional physical strength and courage when he took on the superhuman task of detonating a steel bridge at Dong Ha on Easter Sunday, 1972 – before the enemy could cross with its tanks and 20,000 invaders.

Ripley had not slept or eaten a solid meal in four days when he shimmied up and down the I-beams of the bridge for nearly four hours, rigging them for detonation. His legs dangled like moving targets, inviting enemy fire from snipers and North Vietnamese tanks. While most people might never have dared attempt the monstrous feat, Ripley never backed down, purchasing critical time for allied forces.

Versatile and gifted Hollywood actor Eric St. John played the part of Ripley in the film. He he drew much of his inspiration and insight on Ripley's character from Executive Producer Richard Botkin's book, "Ride the Thunder."

"It was a tremendous honor to play this great man. There's a responsibility when you play such a great person, a historical figure. There's an abundance of great material about him, his life, his family, what he did in the war. It makes the job easier as an actor when you have a great bookwith such rich details about this person's life. Usually you're using yourimagination and also your life experiences, but … it was great to have that book to go to and get all those details.I hope I did him justice."

"I trained very hard to prepare for the role. I went on a special diet and training regiment and lost about 15 to 20 pounds. It was necessary for me to do as an actor because I am playing a real person, and as an actor any time you are portraying a historical figure it is important to get as close to that persons reality as possible, in many aspects, one of them is physical. I looked at photographs of John when he was in Vietnam and he was very lean and fit. In the book Ripley's wife Moline talks about seeing him when he was on leave, she said he had lost a lot of weight, and he was very lean and hardened. Also when he blew up the Dong Ha bridge, he had not slept or eaten for days on end leading up to that moment, making his superhuman feat all the more incredible. I wanted to get as close to that reality as possible, so physicality was very important as well as the mental and emotional state John would have been in both during the war and, just as importantly, after the war when he returned home and saw such drastic contrast in what was being reported about the war versus what he actually saw and experienced in Vietnam. What he faced coming home, to see such a divided country in regards to the war and towards our soldiers who were over there fighting. Richard Botkin's book is such a tremendously well-written book, and the book was my source material that I used in preparation for the movie.

I gained invaluable insight into who John Ripley was, his upbringing, his family, his great leadership in Vietnam, and his life before, during and after the war. This was an incredibly beloved man and I was fortunate enough to meet two of his actual "Ripley's Raiders" Chuck Goggin and Al Niece when they visited the set in Hawaii when we were shooting the movie. It was very clear to me the love and admiration these men had for Ripley and that is a sentiment that many men have for John. So as an actor I wanted to make sure I did the absolute best job I could in honor of John, his family and the men who served with him and loved him dearly. That was my top priority, to do this great man the justice he deserves."

"It was truly a pleasure to work with Fred Koster. Fred is a true "actors director" and he is very specific in what he wants from his actors and their performance. I believe in art, and in acting, that simplicity is always best. Fred would always say "less is more" and "just be yourself" which may sound like a cliché, but when put into practice with Fred's way of directing, it is very, very effective."

Capt. Ed McCourt, who served in Vietnam in the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, knew Ripley personally. McCourt, who grew emotional when recalling his time in Vietnam, said the film accurately depicted Ripley, the war heroes and the reality of the battles they fought.

"John Ripley was a real Christian type of individual," he said. "Fidelity was number 1 on his list. He was a super individual, inside and out. … His troops would follow him to hell and back just because he asked them to go. That's the kind of leader he was. … When his company would go out, he was like a [North Vietnamese Army] magnet. Every time they'd go out, they'd get in a fire fight."

McCourt said his Marines liked to go with Ripley on patrol because "we knew we'd get into something and not just walk around for six or seven days."

McCourt lamented that the U.S. military is still enforcing the same rules of engagement he says handicapped the warriors in Vietnam.

"We've got the same thing happening right now," he said. "We send Marines, soldiers, airmen, Navy SEALs and whatever to combat, but we've got rules of engagement that will not let them win. This is ridiculous. We didn't learn anything in Vietnam when it comes to that."

Asked how he felt about the film as a whole, McCourt said, "I'll tell you, it brought me closure. … I thought it was fantastic. … I think the president should see this movie."

Executive Producer Richard Botkin: "The film record of the Vietnam War is what will determine history 10, 20, 50 years from now when all the Vietnam veterans are gone,"

"Many popular films dealing with Vietnam – such as "Apocalypse Now," "The Deer Hunter," "Platoon," "Good Morning, Vietnam," "Rambo" and "Full Metal Jacket" – serve as great entertainment, Botkin said, but they often grossly distort the reality of the warriors who fought courageously to stop the spread of communism.

"Those films portray our troops as victims, as dupes," he said. "It marginalizes them, shows them very unfavorably and the leadership unfavorably. It shows our Vietnamese allies as even worse. Our film is an effort to begin to turn the tide against that so that, in the future, people will realize that America was right to fight in Vietnam, to stop communism, and that our South Vietnamese allies were worthy of our sacrifice and that they fought well also."

To know more about the American actor, Eric St. John, please log on to:

About Eric St. John
Eric St. John is an American actor residing in Los Angeles. He is a graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts New York. He is also a highly skilled Martial Artist and won the Gold medal in the Black Belt Division in Taekwondo in the Jr. Olympics.Some of his Television and Film credits include General Hospital, Passions, It's a Miracle, True Beauty This Night, Afterlife, The Boarder, The Shifting, Being American, Bullet, with Danny Trejo, Jonathan Banks, and John Savage. Eric most recently completed the feature film "Ride The Thunder" playing the lead role of John Ripley-A character based on real life war hero Col. John Ripley from the best selling book "Ride The Thunder" by Richard Botkin. Eric is trained in Muay Thai, Taekwondo, JeetKune Do, Kali, Boxing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He is also skilled in Japanese and Filipino based weapons.

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