The Misfit Brigade (1987) Poster

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The Dirty Dozen goes bratwurst!
SFZ12 July 1999
Well it isn´t quite Saving Private Ryan, but that is no surprise I guess. However, the fact that I watched Spielbergs masterpiece, only a few weeks before I layed my eyes on this rather unknown WW2 movie, have contributed greatly to my sense of what you have the right to expect. So bear that in mind when you read the rest of this gibberish.

"Wheels of Terror" or "The Misfit Brigade"(The most suitable title if you ask me) is based on the books by Sven Hazel about a group of "criminal elements" in a german penal regiment. The books are entertaining and highly recommendable, so I had high hopes for this movie. It kicks of in 1943 with "our" platoon returning from the battle of Stalingrad, in a tank that is as post-war as the media you are reading this through. Well I can´t avoid mentioning just a few more flaws:

The russians speak russian as they should, however the germans speak english.

Try to picture this: You are a german commander. You have two tank destroyers in a good hulldown position. In your binoculars you see some T34´s approaching your position. What seems to be the right thing to do?

A. Wait until the T34´s are within, a you can´t miss kindda range, and then destroy ´em.

B. Order your tank destroyers to move forward, in an attempt to outmanoeuver the extremely fast and turreted T34´s.

A few minutes into the battle a T34 crushes your command vehicle beneath its tracks. What is your initial reaction?

A. Disbelief.

B. Disbelief and a feeling that maybe you shouldn´t have driven your green american Jeep onto the battlefield anyhow.

Well now try to picture this: You are a general in the german army standing in a german camp in russia. Suddenly eight russian planes start strafing the area. What would you do?

A. Try to find some cover ASAP.

B. Walk over to a slow, unarmed recon-plane and complain that there is no pilot to get you the hell out of there.

If you feel deep in your heart that B,B and B are the right answers, then you will probaly regard this, as one of the most realistic war movies ever made.

Please don´t think that this is an all bad movie. The dialogue and portrayal of the soldiers in the platoon are caught spot on and stays true to the books. Especially the performance of Jay O. Sander as "Tiny", the big dum demolition "expert", is worth mentioning.

Watch this if you liked the books or are a big fan of war movies. 5/10
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The war movie no one wants to release ......
rotweiler9 October 2006
Svel Hassle has written a lot of books about his war experiences as a Dane in the German Army in WWII. Most of these fictional accounts but based on real-life events), the books have been widely released in Europe, but from time to time are available in North America as well (Corgi Press).

This is the one and only movie made from one of his books, a shame really, since Swen Hassle portrays way in a most realistic manner; neither making light of what is happening, not glorifying war, but emphasizing the "Kameradschaft" - the effects of the war's events on Swen and his friends.

The movie unfortunately has some flaws that keep it from being really great. Foremost of these is the casting of David Carradine as a German officer. Too bad, since his performance in this film is sub-par at best.

The casting of Bruce Davison as Porta is a great choice, and he really shines in this movie, and along with David Patrick Kelly (as "The Legionnaire") gives realistic performances.

One of the major reasons this movie didn't receive wider distribution was protests from a number of groups who thought the movie - although they probably had not seen it - glorified the Nazi regime. It doesn't - it portrays war as brutal (on all sides), with no leaders to rely on, rather only one's fellow soldiers to depend on for your life.

A side-note - Swen Hassle is still alive (at this writing) and until relatively recently, has still been writing (although not writing fiction any more). Two of the three major characters in his books (Tiny, Porta and the Legionnaire) survived the war as well.
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Very watchable budget WWII action adventure
jason-21024 December 2005
A very watchable low budget WWII action adventure in the same vein as Kelly's Hero's. You could say it's a cross between Kelly's Heros and the Dirty Dozen. It's a light-hearted adaptation of a Sven Hassle novel about a German penal tank crew sent to the Russian Front. On their return they are sent on a mission to destroy a train behind enemy lines with the promise of retirement if their mission is successful. The tone is one of anti-war and anti-nazism, with the laid back crew pushing insubordination to the limits. The movie has a good cast and characters. David Carradine is superb as the nazi Col. Von Weisshage; and indeed one of the things that make it enjoyable is that all the actors seem to be enjoying their roles. The other thing that makes it enjoyable is the solid humour that keeps a steady pace.
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Guilty Pleasure
Jennel21 September 2002
For almost two years I successfully resisted renting this movie. That resistance was certainly aided by the cheap looking case of the video, and the fact that director Gordon Hessler is known (if at all) in the US only for a trio of cheap, British, AIP horror flicks, "Scream and Scream Again" being marginally the most watchable of the lot. But the desire to see what Hessler and his mostly American TV actor cast would do with such material, and the need for relief from a recent diet of "serious" indie film viewing, pushed me over the edge to spend the whole one dollar rental fee. Obviously "the Misfit Brigade" is no masterpiece, but it was far better than I expected, and, as others have pointed out, occasionally rises to the level of pretty damn good. I loved, for instance, the sequence in which the misfits watch a Soviet propaganda film projected on a large screen across the front line. I don't know if this ever happened, and if it did, I doubt he films would have had the big studio production values of the one presented. The bordello sequence was also funny, and reminded me of the humor in some of the better Italian westerns. There was also the occasional visually striking shot. I particularly liked the long tracking shot that begins on a Russian peasant coming to a road, then follows a Russian military vehicle through the gates of a compound, then swoops up on a crane to the roof, where a German soldier is observing the vehicle. Then, in subtitled Russian, someone yells, "There's a Kraut on the roof," and we cut to a shot of the rest of the misfits (some distance away) as we here automatic weapons' fire on the soundtrack. This is damn good sequence. I've read in his mini biography here on Imdb, that Hessler worked for Hitchcock's TV unit at Universal before directing features. This long tracking shot is certainly similar to one of Hitch's, and even shares a bit of the master's dark humor. But, OK, this film is not art. It is somewhat choppy (at least in the U.S. video version), and the low budget shows in some of the action sequences. Still, it's a fun little movie if one can accept its limitations. Even David Carradine seems to be enjoying his minor role as an uptight German officer. Oliver Reed is not on screen very long as a pompous German general who arrives at the end of the film to decorate the misfit heros. I cannot agree that his attitude during the air raid which follows detracts from the film's "realism." This is all slapstick anyway, which accounts for the film's final cut, before some graphic violence would have betrayed it's lighthearted mood.
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A trip down nostalgia lane
CPol18 September 1999
To tell the truth, I liked this movie. It's not great, it's not even good, but it's a very entertaining piece of budget movie history, and considering that I am surprised at how good it actually became.

Basically it is a classical Dirty Dozen/Guns of Navarone mixture. Group of misfits in German penal battalion goes on impossible mission, shot lots of ruskies, loose some good men and have some strange/amusing/other encounters. The acting isn't bad, in fact it's downright good in a few spots such as Tiny and The Legionaire but generally it's pretty mediocre. What makes this movie something more than B trash is the fact that it has some pretty likable characters and some pretty funny scenes.

For example; throughout the movie we are given propaganda bulletins on the German radio talking about the heroes of Bektovka, who are holding out against all odds far behind enemy lines. One is compelled to laugh at the absurdity when our heroes accidentally end up at Bektovka and discovered that the 'heroes' are living a quiet farm life together with the Russian defenders of the village.

Another fun thing, at least for me, was how equipment and uniforms change continuously throughout the movie. At one point even the German tanks (which look suspiciously like Russian JS3s) are transformed, into Russian T-55s.

Wheels of Terror gave me a feeling of watching an episode of the 60s WW2 series 'Combat' or the old Polish series 'Four Tankers and a Dog'. If you're looking for a good war movie see Peckinpah's 'The Iron Cross' or Stone's 'Platoon', but if you're looking for a trip down nostalgia lane Wheels of Terror is the movie for you.
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This is on my top 10 war/anti-war film list.
leybarsinister3 November 2003
This is one of my favourite flicks!Based on the Sven Hassel book "WHEELS OF TERROR."Nothing fancy here.Good casting job bringing Hassel's characters to the silver screen.Having read most of Hassel's books,makes me biased towards this film.It has all the elements of a good war/anti-war film.David Carradine has a blast as the commander and,the cast works well with/off each other.Oliver Reed has a cameo that is perfect for him.I really like the tank sequences.Real armor was used to great effect.This is on my top 10 war films list.It is a shame that no other films were made,based on Hassel's books.
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War story of a Panzers regiment composed of Nazi prisoners to execute a dangerous mission behind enemy lines
ma-cortes25 March 2015
Entertaining but average WWII film with lots of humor , battles , explosions , tongue-in-cheek action and sheer amusement ; being really a takeoff on ¨Dirty Dozen¨ style . Spectacular War film with a touch of irreverence about a reckless group of German soldiers , 27th Panzers , Hitler's heavy-duty combat regiment . As a group of inmates find themselves recruited into the military undertaking a dangerous mission behind enemy lines , as they sneak on Russian territory to get blowing-up a train . Exciting film with a truly silly formula about a misfit team led by Capt. Erich (D.W. Moffett) who carries out a suicide mission behind enemy lines . Captain Erich and Cpl. Joseph Porta (Bruce Davison) and their buddies are assorted criminals from a Nazi penal bunch . An equipment of two-fisted soldiers formed by a misfit band with egoistic aims are drafted to go on a near-suicide mission and attempt to explode some installation , on a zone occupied by the Soviets . As they are offered their freedom if they carry out a risked assignment : to destroy a train and subsequently survive . This strange , motley platoon is formed by hustler , anachronistic , lame-brained , and oddball characters ; the team and their tanks Panzer will take on tanks T 34 . ¨The misfit brigade¨ is an entertaining as well as amusing film with the ordinary squad of renegade soldiers of World War II . In the hands of hardboiled director Gordon Hessler and a tough-as-leather cast , that's all the plot that's needed to make one rip-roaring wartime flick . The mission is two-fold and in violent and cynical style : the selfish and mean group undergoing across a dangerous territory and executing hazardous feats , they then turn loose on Russsian territory where cause destruction . The first half of the film allows the colorful cast of character actors to have their fun as they get their tails whipped into shape and develop shaky relationship among them . The final part is all action, as the brave commando wreak havoc and then run for their lives . Despite the fact that most part of the "heroes" survive the bloodbath , the message here isn't that war is hell . Rather, it seems to be : war can be a hell of a good time... if you've got nothing to lose . This is a rugged WWII actioner concerning a squadron of dispensable characters with no past and no future and other rare roles .

The dangerous mission includes a selected group formed by a motley and varied but disreputable squadron played by notorious secondaries playing Privates who are an oddball , rag-tag and undisciplined gang . Bruce Davison as Cpl. Joseph assumes the character of commando leader in this regular wartime movie , being professional though middlingly directed by Gordon Hessler . This clichéd ¨Kelly's heroes¨, ¨Dirty Dozen¨ variation packs frantic thrills , lots of familiar faces , perilous adventures , lighthearted comedy , relentless feats , and buck-loads of explosive action . The noisy action is uniformly well-made, especially deserving of mention the rip-roaring scenes on the tanks battles , including some spectacular shootouts . Apart from the values of team spirit , cudgeled by D.W. Moffett into his rebel group , the film is full of feats , humor with tongue-in-check and thrills . Bruce Davison is good as leader of the motley pack together thwart the enemy schemes , as well as the largely secondary cast who has a lot a fun as David Patrick Kelly , Jay O Sanders , and cameos by Oliver Reed , David Carradine . The film is based on Danish writer Sven Hassle's 1979 war novel Wheels of Terror. In fact , it is Sven Hassle's second book, and takes more of a fictional slant over his first one . Hassle said the following : ¨ My books -and this Misfit brigade- are strictly anti-military. They correspond to my personal view of what I experienced. I write to warn the youth of today against war. I am writing the story of the small soldiers, the men who neither plan nor cause wars but have to fight them . War is the last arm of bad politicians¨ . Other works Sven wrote are : Novel "Legion of the Damned¨, ¨Comrades of War¨, ¨March Battalion¨ , ¨Assignment Gestapo¨, "Monte Cassino", ¨Liquidate Paris¨, among others .

Atmospheric and functional musical score as well as evocative cinematography . This is a wartime typical vehicle and into the ¨warlike commando genre¨ , in USA style which also belong the American classics from the 60s as : ¨Dirty Dozen (Robert Aldrich) , ¨The Kelly's heroes¨ (Brian G.Hutton) , ¨ Where eagles dare¨ (Brian G. Hutton) , ¨Tobruk¨ (Arthur Hiller), ¨Devil's Brigade¨ (Andrew V McLagen) and many others . The motion picture was ordinarily handled and professionally directed by Gordon Hessler, and achieved limited success and cash . His first feature film as a director was Catacombs (1965) . When production of the AIP Edgar Allan Poe series was shifted to Britain, Hessler collaborated with producer Louis Heyward and horror enthusiast/ screenwriter Christopher Wicking on three Poe films and on the sci-fi shocker : Scream and scream again , The oblong box and Murders in the Rue Morgue . Carrying on in the fantasy field, he also directed the Ray Harryhausen stop-motion swashbuckler Golden voyage of Sinbad (1973) and additional small-screen suspense : Scream, Pretty Peggy (1973) with Bette Davis . Of course , this ¨The misfit brigade ¨ in which added humor to the warlike action.
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innocuous Eastern Front War movie that I'd somehow never heard of
Michael A. Martinez21 June 2008
This film is far from perfect, though I'm overall quite glad I saw it. It's basically THE DIRTY DOZEN if the protagonists were all Germans serving on the Eastern Front. Sound interested? Well I was hooked right away.

The main strength to the film is the characterization. The three central characters are fleshed out pretty well and the interplay between them rings quite true. There's plenty of action sequences involving tanks, planes, and a fair amount of explosions but overall they're quite hindered by the low budget.

Problems here include a lot of confusing moments, character decisions, and anachronisms. For one, we're introduced to the heroes at the beginning of the film driving a soviet post-ww2 T-62 tank! Later they're seen manning two SU-122 tank destroyers, which were also soviet, but the film wants us to believe are STUG-III's which look nothing alike. Also, the heroes (a penal battalion) often speak irreverently of Nazis and SS, but the costuming department outfitted them with Totenkopf SS emblems on their uniforms.

However I must give credit to proper firearms. The uniforms overall look quite good though I wonder what a Russian 1939 early war hat would be doing on the front line in 1943/44. The Russian T-34/85's are quite authentic though with a lot of additions they wouldn't have had on in WW2. Overall the tank-fighting scenes are quite poorly done, though somewhat realistic in showing that tanking is a very cooperation-based profession.

Overall, this is a movie that will only appeal to WW2 buffs. It's a pseudo-comedy but it isn't really that funny, per-say. It's an action movie too, but isn't particularly bloody or violent either.
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Bad attempt
Heikki Tulokas14 March 2006
If you fell in love with the books of Sven Hassle, you might think this is a movie not to miss. Sorry, have to bring your hopes down.

The movie doesn't catch anything from the books! The characters are nothing like in the books. Can it be so that they couldn't find any actors to resemble the characters in the books or was the directing so terrible? I don't know but I was SO disappointed after seeing this movie that I was sorry I bought it.

As far as I'm concerned, this movie shouldn't have been done, at least not in the 80's! They probably had a very small budget which may be the reason for the terrible style of the movie and the story, that doesn't remind me of the exciting and cruel stories in the books of Sven Hassle. Skip the movie and stick to the books!
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Little known yet engaging Anti-war film
Coventry10 May 2009
A friend and I watched this movie back-to-back with the Italian flick "The Inglorious Bastards", as a part of our 'crazed rampaging soldiers' theme-night and it was a terrific ride throughout the two whole movies. The Italian cult classic one, directed by Enzo G. Castellari and starring Fred Williamson, is undoubtedly more outrageous and spectacular, but the main conclusion actually was that both films share practically the same plot; only seen from the two opposite war fronts. Obviously both productions are imitations of the legendary war film "The Dirty Dozen", but personally I always treasured a bigger weakness for cheap knockoffs than for the acclaimed originals. "The Misfit Brigade" is adapted from a novel from Sven Hassle; who was a former Nazi Soldier and thus a bit of a questionable and slightly controversial figure himself. Regardless of his background, "The Misfit Brigade" definitely isn't pro-Nazi and actually quite blunt and uncompromising in the expression of its political opinions. The protagonists in this movie are anti everything and that's probably why this is such a good and plausible film. And by plausible I do not necessarily mean the depicted events in the film, but the characterizations of the rejected SS-soldiers and deserters. The plot introduces the questionable members of the 27th Panzer Regiment; a gathering of overly opinionated soldiers convicted in court martial and downright expandable criminals. They spent their days driving around in their tank, drinking heavily and playing vicious pranks on each other. Mostly active near the Northern front lines and Russians borders, the 27th Regiment unmercifully kills Russians but drive their tank over German soldiers just as easily. When the vicious Colonel Von Weisshägen promises them amnesty in return the fulfillment of a special and dangerous assignment, the boys go far beyond Russian enemy lines in order to blow up a train chock-full of oil and military equipment. As much as it is a harsh and realistic war epic, "The Misfit Brigade" is also a subtle and blackly humorous parody about the people forced to fight for a cause that is not necessarily their own and, as you can guess, their number is far more plentiful than the heroic patriots. Some sequences are near-brilliant and overwhelming (like the tank fights, the screening of the discouraging propaganda film, and the encounter with the exhibitionist deserters), but other footage is dreadfully tedious and misplaced, like the scene in the brothel for example. The best element about "The Misfit Brigade" is unarguably the character drawings. The members of the 27th Panzer Regiment aren't friends or soul mates. They're cold and emotionless bastards that do not mourn when one of their colleagues is killed in action and they definitely don't philosophize about the senselessness of warfare. The Yugoslavian filming locations add a great deal of realism to the film and the scenery (those tanks and Luftwaffe attacks!) are excellent. Director Gordon Hessler – known from the early 70's Vincent Price horror movies "The Oblong Box" and "Cry of the Banshee" – does an admirable job as well and he could rely on a fantastically devoted cast, including Bruce Davison as the uncrowned leader of the bunch, David Patrick Kelly as the eloquent and provocative Legionnaire and Jay O. Sanders as the big & dumb kamikaze freak Tiny. David Carradine is sublimely nefarious as the power-hungry Colonel Von Weisshägen; complete with his glasses for one eye only to make him look extra evil. Oliver Reed receives top billing but only makes a cameo appearance during the hectic and extremely cool climax. The role, however, is perfect for him and he gives his absolute everything in only five lines of dialog. Recommended!
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Good film
pvi99th4 November 2005
I have seen this film a couple of times and have found that I like the movie. It is not the quality of Stalingrad but I think if follows the basic premise of the books by Sven Hassle. Other people have ripped it to shreds and said that it was trash but I found that the books and the film are quite similar in tone. It does not follow the book Wheels of Terror exactly but it does a good job of capturing the flavor of the books. I would encourage people to try to find a copy. Used VHS tapes often show up on Ebay and even European DVDs can be found. Be sure to search for both titles as The Misfit Brigade seems to be only the USA title.
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needs real talent to make movie of this
mitchell-k-miller10 October 2002
You need real talent to make a movie of Sven Hassel's comrades during WWII. The talent was not there. It would also be high budget with an incredible screenplay. As to Oyster's comments (or whatever your name is)you are badly misinformed. Because of incosistencies in his books? Oh, boo hoo! Look for some in The Holy Bible - ever heard of it? Go on Yahoo and search for Sven Hassel: whooomp! - There it is! A picture of him in a German Army uniform. Standard archives shot. A lot of right-wingers in Europe have tried to discredit Hassel with "documented" proof of his "lies." He didn't lie: Hitler's War Against Civilization was horrifying-- especially to the guys who had to fight it. I have always wondered if the guys were real. Hassel has said that they were real and that most died in the war. Tiny and the Legionairre, now very old, are living on retirement pay from the French Foreign Legion. What I wouldn't give to meet them!
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Banality As It's Best
Peter Ingestad5 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I just saw The Misfit Brigade / Wheels Of Terror and I loved it. This is American style entertainment, simple and plain, all traditional, unsophisticated, popular, more quality of a TV series than a movie - and GOOD I could just eat the disc. This is America, so horribly underrated by high-nosed Europeans - and by Americans themselves! The film is based on a Sven Hassle novel about a German tank crew on the Eastern Front in WWII. So American in style and quality. Those typical easygoing toughs fixing everything with perfect, soundly unrealistic ease.

An unpretentious, slightly silly film with lots of action and solid humor, and I already know this will be one I will frequently see again. In short: Banality At It's Best.
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Pretty Lame
ETO_Buff4 January 2006
When I saw that this movie was released in 1987, I was worried that it might be another 80s low-budget "wanna-be-big-war-movie" the likes of The Big Red One or Casablanca Express. Sad to say that my assumptions were correct.

When I watch other movies on DVD that contain deleted scenes, I sometimes wonder why a director deleted certain scenes. If the scenes were deleted from this one that should have been, there would not have been much left.

There isn't much more to say about this flick, except that I was never sure if it was supposed to be a comedy or a serious movie.
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Misguided war film
Wizard-89 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I hadn't even heard of this movie before coming across an ex rental video copy at a thrift store in my city. Though upon sitting down to watch the movie, it soon became clear why I hadn't heard of the movie before.

It certainly boasts an interesting cast - Bruce Davison, David Carradine (who gives a very lazy performance), and Oliver Reed (who only appears for about six minutes) - and for what was a limited budget the movie's production values aren't bad, at least if you aren't a nitpicker about certain World War II military details.

However, the script is kind of a mess. It tries to both be funny and hard-hitting, but the two extremes do not jell. It's too serious (and violent) to be funny, and it's too goofy to be serious. Another problem is that the narrative is kind of rambling. It takes forever for the central characters to be assigned their mission, going through a number of vignettes that add little to nothing to the movie. Then when the mission starts, there is still a clear lack of focus - the characters seem kind of aimless as they go forth, lacking proper planning and preparedness. It almost seems as if the filmmakers were making things up as they went along.

In the end, this is a movie that is too strange to be immediately dismissed, but at the same time it's not terribly entertaining.
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Cheap and cheesy adaptation of a vastly different book
Leofwine_draca10 June 2016
An ill-advised adaptation of one of Sven Hassle's WW2 Eastern Front novels, WHEELS OF TERROR is a film that it's quite difficult to enjoy. Hassle's books were always grimly realistic and downbeat, and despite attempts to emulate that style, WHEELS OF TERROR feels cheesy and quite sentimental by comparison. What's obvious here is that the budget was quite low, meaning that the various action scenes are only averagely handled, and at times look more like they belong in a '60s Italian war film than a 1980s movie. I do like the work of director Gordon Hessler (THE OBLONG BOX, SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN, etc.) but this is one of his lesser efforts.

The cast is a mixed bag of familiar faces. Some stand out, others are bland. Bruce Davison headlines things but was quite wooden, I thought, although the ever-snide David Patrick Kelly (COMMANDO) is better as the volatile one. The all-American David Carradine is an odd choice to play the German officer, but it works quite well, and it's hard not to enjoy Oliver Reed's cameo as the pompous general. Overall, though, I found WHEELS OF TERROR to be quite a shoddy film, and not really something I can recommend, which is a surprise given that screenwriter Nelson Gidding previously wrote the scripts for classics like THE HAUNTING and THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN.
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Not bad but forgettable.
GUENOT PHILIPPE24 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I should say it's a very poor man's CROSS OF IRON. The spirit is the same: German army troops, a platoon actually, lost in the middle of the Russian front. I won't add anything more to the other comments, which are very interesting concerning details, except, again, that the screenwriter was inspired by Sam Peckinpah's war movie shot in 1977. Brutal vision of war from the German side, in Russia, without any glorification of this very same war, helped by a powerful characterization - for this kind of production, I mean. A war movie that ends with a sort of moral. The cowardliness of the superior officers is pointed out very clearly. In this movie, they are not Maximilien Schell but Oliver Reed and David Carradine.

A pretty good ending.
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For its audience
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews30 March 2010
Yes, for the intended group of viewers, this apparently hits the mark, according to the reviewer of a respectable paper here. I didn't have to look for that; they put it on the cover. Another piece of evidence for how desperate they were to find *something* positive and inciting to put on there is the fact that they make mention of Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide giving it no less than two stars... you know, out of four. Is that supposed to be high praise? What, are they just proud that he noticed its existence at all? I get the impression that the following facts are not widely known in the rest of the world, and want to set the record straight. Sven Hassle is a fraud. He almost definitely never experienced battle, he talked to a bunch of people who had. It is probable that his wife authored the books(I haven't read a word of them, but what I hear is that they're pure war pornography), he dictated them to her. A Nazi, he worked for the Germans during the war, and then turned in his buddies in hopes of reducing his sentence once they lost. Whether or not it worked, he still got(though did not serve all) 10 years; in comparison, those who had worked as soldiers for the Germans got between two and four years, or only one. The allegations are confidential, so we don't know what he did; however, it can't have been all that small. This does match the tone of the novels, as far as I understand. The wise-guy attitude, as well. This comes dangerously close to throwing out all credibility and tension right at the beginning, and then proceeds to do so not much later, and then, in case anyone was still caring about anything that happens in this, it goes even further. Are we meant to accept whatever this deems fit to toss at us? What, because WW2 happened? This does not treats it with enough respect for that to be sufficient on its own. There is next to no sense of danger, the characters get off too easily. This has entirely too many goofy and silly instances, and it gets to be embarrassing. It makes the rest of the film tough to take seriously; I mean, it's farcical at times. We're talking cringe-inducing. Gone is the majority of the impact of the couple of powerful, emotional moments(also on account of them being immediately preceded or concluded by "comic relief" that isn't funny), what there is of authenticity, realism and richness in detail. You get an idea of how minuscule the charges had to be to get imprisoned... well, they seem fine. They get bad food in small portions! Don't worry, no one has a single line where they complain about it. Penal corps! Safe. Collective punishment! A punch-line. All that has any effect is the kid and the catch-22 of sorts/test. The tank action is reasonable. This has good pacing here and there. And it is impressive that the Hollywood aspect is not what ruins this(which is not to say it helps). The cast have a lot of acting chops, it's unfortunate they don't get to show it in this. There is a lot of disturbing content, a bit of violence, some strong language and a little nudity and sexuality in this. I recommend this to fans of the written originals, I guess. 5/10
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No classic, but entertaining enough.
Scott LeBrun17 January 2015
The cast makes all the difference in this reasonably amusing adaptation of a WWII novel by Sven Hassle (who's played in the film by Slavko Stimac). It's basically a variation on the Dirty Dozen formula, in which a group of misfits - including those who had been in prison - are recruited by the Nazis to be a fighting force. Our "misfit brigade" are sent on a delicate mission to get beyond the Russian border and destroy a train. They are told that if they succeed at this task, they can enjoy an early "retirement".

Adequately directed by cult filmmaker Gordon Hessler ("The Golden Voyage of Sinbad"), the movie has a fairly colourful band of characters. These men are very much anti-authority and also pretty much anti-Nazi, resulting in an interesting hook. On location filming in Yugoslavia is one nice touch; period recreation is also good. Hessler manages to create some tension and the action is decently executed.

This group of familiar faces does look to be having a good time. Bruce Davison ("Willard"), David Patrick Kelly ("Dreamscape"), D.W. Moffett ("Traffic"), Jay O. Sanders ("The Day After Tomorrow"), and Keith Szarabajka ("The Dark Knight") are among our heroes. If you're watching this as a fan of Oliver Reed, be warned that he only shows up at the end, with just a handful of lines. David Carradine is most amusing in his turn as a sneering Nazi officer. One does have to suspend their disbelief quite a bit with these very Americanized performances, and with no real attempt made to make people look Germanic.

Personally speaking, this viewer did not have a problem with the light hearted approach of this adaptation. The healthy dose of humour does keep it watchable. It's nothing great, but it offers some fun.

Seven out of 10.
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Enjoyable 80's action
Gmork7622 March 2013
In spite of the goofs and cheesiness I really enjoy this movie. Had it been made today with young b actors it would be a disaster. The 80's tone and the great actors of this movie is hilarious. The story is simple but it gets you going through the movie with a few laughs and hilarious moments, like when Oliver Reed makes an entrance as German general. The goofs are also fun, Soviet made SU-100's makes a stand-in for tank destroyers as Jagdpanzer IV's, Hetzers or StuG's (or German captured SU-100's) It's filmed in former Yugoslavia, and many actors are Yugoslavians, which is good and contributes to the realism.

One fun trivia if you like Cross of Iron (1977), the actor Slavco Stimac who plays Sven also plays the little blonde boy Michail in Cross Of Iron. He have had a real career since then.

Sven Hassels books are a good read if you find them. They sorta continue with some of the characters and their achievements and defeats in WWII

Watch it, it's even available on Bluray with 1080p and DD Surround only but it stills is an upgrade over DVD.
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Wheels of terror
mrtank7414 March 2013
This film tried to hit the mark but didn't quite make it. Most of the cast did a good job but to me it just looked like not enough money was put into the project. You could tell that some of the tanks were not even close to the country of origin. (ie if you put the stars and stripes on a tiger tank does not turn it into a Sherman tank) After Stalingrad was made all movies kinda faded into the background about the eastern front, but with enough cash and enough know-how I am sure that one of Sven Hassell's books could be made into a real good war movie. Having said that, every time this movie is on the TV I never give it a miss.
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Misfit Brigade / comment
charliedestartinn11 February 2012
I feel very close to what Laybarsinister said . As a long range reader of Sven Hassle books , I have been amazed by how close from the images we built at reading the Hassle war squad story , the actors have been selected. Especially Tiny , Old man and Alfred Kalb-the légionnaire -, they are so close in their physical and in their behavior,that there is almost no gap at all between the film and the book, which is a very rare performance ! Cheers for the choice of actors and for the actors themselves!.Forinstance Porta does not look so close, physically, but his actor job is so excellent, that we may think all of them are avid readers and fans of Hassle's books.

This little film is unpretentious yet surprisingly a kind of artistic success in restoring the spirit of a story as the author has told it in his writing.Once more,a very rare success,as film makers don't usually bother too much sticking to the writer actual storyboard. Only one regret : with this team of actors and the Hassle saga ,so full of events and historical facts ,it could have given 2 or 3 more films without any danger of boring the public .
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