During the war in Afghanistan a Soviet tank crew commanded by a tyrannical officer find themselves lost and in a struggle against a band of Mujahadeen guerrillas in the mountains. A unique look at the Soviet 'Vietnam' experience sympathetically told for both sides. Written by
Keith Loh <email@example.com>
Dale Dye, a retired US Marine Corps captain, served as the military/technical advisor and has an uncredited part as one of the helicopter crew. See more »
Russian Tanks do not run on Helicopter fuel, even if it did, 20 gallons of any fuel would be worth about 20 minutes not a full day and night of operations. See more »
[the tank is incapacitated. Daskal hands out a grenade to Kaminski and Golikov]
You know our standing orders.
Out of commission, become a pillbox. Out of ammo, become a bunker. Out of time, become heroes.
You must be out of your fucking mind!
[He tosses his grenade aside]
[Daskal pulls the grenade pin]
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At the start of the film, just after the Columbia Pictures logo the following quote is given: When you're wounded an' left on Afghanistan's plains. An' the women come out to cut up your remains, Just roll to your rifle an' blow out your brains, An' go to your Gawd like a soldier. - Rudyard Kipling See more »
The only movie that I am aware of that deals explicitly with the Soviet war in Afghanistan, "The Beast" is also a fascinating example of an American made war movie that features absolutely no American characters. The conflict here is totally between a group of local Afghan mujahideen and the crew of a lost Soviet tank struggling to find their way out of a valley in which they're trapped. (The image of the lost tank may well be a symbolic representation of the wider war - the Soviet Union being hopelessly lost in Afghanistan.) The movie features a fairly graphic portrayal of the horrors of the battle from the point of view of both sides, as well as of the growing weariness of the Soviets, who - with the exception of their gung-ho and somewhat insane commander - want nothing more than to get out of this country as fast as possible. The mood of the movie is complemented perfectly by the starkness of the desert landscape. Opening with an example of an atrocity by the tank crew against the inhabitants of a small Afghan village, the movie follows the mujahideen as they seek revenge against their invaders.
The performances in this movie were absolutely first-rate, headed by a fantastic piece of work by George Dzundza as the insane commander Daskal, who willingly kills his own men if he takes a dislike to them and who refuses a chance to escape via a Soviet helicopter that chances upon the lost crew, choosing instead to get out with his tank and his crew. Jason Patric was equally good as Koverchenko, a member of the tank crew who finally turns against Daskal, and eventually finds himself aligned with the mujahideen in a quest for his own personal revenge against Daskal.
The Russians in this movie speak English (thankfully without fake accents) while the Afghans speak whatever their particular native language is with subtitles, which suggests to me that the Russians (and how they respond to their increasingly hopeless situation) are the focal point of the movie. I approach this type of movie with a bit of a grain of salt. American movies that depicted the Soviet Union in the 1980's tended to be a little bit over the top in their portrayal of the Soviet Union as Ronald Reagan's "evil empire." Still, there's no doubt that the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was a rather brutal affair, and this seemed a not unreasonable depiction of it. Truly one of the better war movies I've ever seen. 9/10
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