This film clashes cliches and classic photographic forms to provide it the parody of the war/Vietnam film genres to draw out the snickers while also providing the hard light upon a shadowed face to give it's comical main characters a sense of suspense.
After the faux credits, this film begins in a battle zone. Fast edits and up close shots provide the sense that you are in the action. The group starts to escape and then we see Ben Stiller re-enact the classic scene from 'Platoon'. There is also the sweeping helicopter over a jungle/Viet Cong village and the helicopter machine gunner shooting everything in sight. The close battles and, much like 'Hamburger Hill', provide extreme gore. Much like the 'Platoon' moment, these scenes are crafted to show the incredibility of an enlarged ego recreating such a real moment.
To offset these recreative scenes, non-parodied scenes used creative use of light to create the mood that was best fitting for these scenes. The vast majority of the indoor shots in Laos (actually New Zealand) use lighting shades of yellow/gold colors in darkly lit rooms to provide the sense that they are in the Golden Triangle and it's not a good place to be. What enhances this effect is that when one sees the indoor shots of the office of Les Grossman (Tom Cruise), is that these are lit with a balance of white light. These deeply contrasting shots, in their use of light toned color enhancement, helps provide the film a sense of realism once it sheds away from it's comedic beginning.
This movie recreates several classic scenes from great war movies not to make fun of those film stories (as most parodies do), but instead to show how unheroic the actor is who portrays a films hero by casting the right light upon them in the right local.