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The Beast of War
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The Beast of War More at IMDbPro »

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99 out of 111 people found the following review useful:

JUSTICE?: RAMBO makes Millions, THE BEAST, $160,000...

Author: seashellz from United States
3 September 2001

Allegedly came out during a change of administration at COLUMBIA, and they knew not what to do with it, and at a time when the 'blockbuster' mentality was starting to become the norm, THE BEAST may have played in what, five cities for a week or two.....they say the most valuable gems can be the hardest to find...and THE BEAST is no exception to that maxim...

This is as close to a 'foreign film' out of Hollywood as you are going to get...the story brings the conflict between people forward, and makes the action incidental-virtual guaranteed bankruptcy for a US film today.

And as for the actors speaking English-I think the producers realised they were close enough to no profit by having one language being subtitled as it was-the whole film being subtitled would have seen no financing at all, probably.-That just doesnt fly in H-town....'art-house' kiss of death... However...

The acting is first rate. The story is lean, and to the point. The scenery is stark and beautiful-well, IMHO.... There is little pandering to the audience, and little Cultural Condescension that I can see-

The viewer soon becomes loyal to the Mujahadeem Rebels, not because they are against the Ruskies, but because they have the will and the right to exist as they are, not to be dictated to by a 'higher' invading power...

Thought it suffers a bit from low budget, I would rate THE BEAST up with FULL METAL JACKET, PLATOON, DAS BOOT, and APOCALYPSE NOW... an EIGHT out of TEN stars... dont rent this-OWN it!

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66 out of 77 people found the following review useful:

Cold War ideology

Author: fairviewed from Cincinnati, OH
11 September 2004

The review of this film by whpratt1 is completely wrong. This film is not critical of the Mujahadeen, but rather shows them struggling to fight for their freedom. The Soviet army is the oppressive evil presence. This film was made during the Cold War, when Americans saw a line drawn in the sand between communism and capitalist democracy. In the film, the Soviets are clearly the bad guys, and the Mujahadeen are fighting the good fight. The main character comes to understand this during the film, finally telling his Soviet commanding officer that "we're the Nazis this time."

During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the United States funded, supplied, and trained Mujahadeen forces. American stinger missiles were used to shoot down Soviet helicopters. The most famous Mujahadeen fighter trained by the United States would come to be Osama bin Laden. He would participate in the fight against the Soviet army, much to the approval of the United States. This film pays tribute to the Mujahadeen for valiantly defending themselves against America's enemy. The fact that the United States has invaded Afghanistan makes the film much more interesting to watch. It is ironic that these militants once praised by Hollywood are now our enemies. The lesson this film should teach us now, albeit inadvertently, is that we should be careful who we glorify and who we vilify. Humans will be humans, and will fight for what they *believe* is right, sometimes whether it actually is right or not.

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58 out of 70 people found the following review useful:

Moby Dick, with Ahab in the whale...

Author: Paul Hager ( from Bloomington, Indiana
20 November 2000

This neglected and largely unknown anti-war film, ranks as one of the best of the genre. Since other posters have commented extensively on this movie, I'll limit myself to a few comments about those elements others have not addressed.

In it my understanding from material I read at the time the movie was in release (I saw it in Los Angeles when I was living there in the late 80s) that the actors who portrayed Afghanis learned and delivered their lines phonetically. The fact that the "Russians" sound like Americans, and the Afghans are speaking the language without subtitles is a brilliant dramatic device. Virtually no one is going to understand what the Afghanis are actually saying, but it is possible to get the gist from the context and from body language. This has the effect of alienating the viewer from the freedom fighters and making them tend to identify with the Russian tank crew. The movie then operates subversively against this natural tendency throughout the remainder of the story.

The hunting of the tank by the Mujahadeen has an almost mythic quality, except for the fact that the T-62 is real and it has a human crew. And leading that crew is the tank commander whose entire life was shaped by his experiences in "The Great Patriotic War" against the Nazis when, as an 8-year-old, he was used by Russian troops in Stalingrad to help kill German tanks. The commander is as monomaniacal as Ahab, but instead of pursuing the whale, he is it's animating spirit.

There are a lot of layers to this movie -- it will definitely repay repeat viewings.

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41 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

Compelling and absorbing depiction of human struggles...

Author: X Tropical from United States
19 February 2002

A very enjoyable film! Reynolds captures the essence of man's struggle with right & wrong, good & evil, on several levels in this realistic depiction of the Soviet-Afghan conflict. It was both meaningful and entertaining. I gave it an 8.

The internal conflicts of the characters reflect the many ways that people reconcile and deal with their emotions and beliefs vis-à-vis the roles thrust upon them by war and duty- the soldier, the faithful, the victim, the oppressor, the revenge-seeker and the order-follower. Each main character struggles at some point with his or her decisions in the face of right and wrong, duty and morality. It is the results of these choices that guide the film to transcend the events of war, and delve into the universal questions of how and why man struggles with real and painful choices.

Although the film does prove to be quite predictable, the underlying messages are timeless and well depicted. A moving story with good character development artistically filmed and approached realistically. The brutality and violence of war is not gratuitous, and the anti-war message is delivered superbly.

I highly recommend this film to all audiences... not just war-film buffs. With the US presence in Afghanistan today, the film should serve to help understand that conflict and this one in regards to the human components that are so often overlooked.

A note regarding other user's comments: The film was subtitled. It seems that some saw it without the subtitles for some reason. If you are one of those people, you really must view it with them. Rent it. I cannot imagine truly understanding the full scope of the film without the benefit of the Afghan dialog. Also, the "Americanization" of the soviet dialog not only serves to draw parallels between that conflict and the Vietnam War, but it universalizes the struggles of war and allows the viewer to empathize on a human level- not just a political one. In our long human history, how often have these basic human conflicts occurred... particularly in times of war and oppression and injustice?

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37 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

One Of History's Unsung Greatest Movies

Author: bobbyp1966 from United States
21 October 2005

My son found this movie, by serendipitous accident, in the $5.50 bin at Wal*Mart in vast abundance; Since viewing it, I've bought ten copies and given them to friends as gifts; Nine out of ten found it 'WOW!', and one 'really liked it'. It is simply that good.

Kevin Reynolds, along with the cast he 'enlisted' for this movie, has done what very few others in Hollywood have: Glued their viewer's butts firmly to their seats. In spite of trivial critique fielded, the movie is nonetheless a riveting, tachycardia-inspiring, sweat-inducing commentary of the inhumanities of war and the torment it invokes upon all involved. Dzundza, Patric and Bauer, although lesser-known among the 'gods' of Hollywood and together with a cast of very capable unknowns, have conspired to make a high-calibre testament to the evil of war and the resiliency of life and spirit in war's midst.

Others may fault the movie as they will: Soviet tankers with American accents, incorrect tank, inaccurate terminology, made in Israel, et al; The plot outshines all that. There is nothing thin about it. Consequently, I cannot recommend this film enough. You will not be sorry if you decide to buy this DVD; However, if you like the soundtrack (Tastefully done by Mark Isham), good luck finding it in CD, especially new. It's been long out of print and very rare, commanding prices often over $100, mint (I got mine for $50, luckily! Check eBay, keywords: 'beast isham soundtrack'). "The Beast" (Titled "The Beast Of War" overseas) is a MUST for any collection!

(EDIT) fairviewed's review comment of Osama bin Ladin being trained by the US is unfounded and purely conjecture. There is no evidence to support the claim, and should thus be regarded as urban legend.

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32 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

A truly great war film

Author: ( from Los Angeles California
3 March 2002

This film is as I said one of the greatest war films ever made. It is also the only one that I am aware of that focuses on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. A serviceable plot makes it easier for the tank crew to turn out some great performances. Stephen Baldwin is even tolerable in this one and this is the only role to date where he shouldn't be killed for his decision to act. Don Harvey is a unsung star as the brake fluid swigging Kaminski and Jason Patric turns in a good perfomance as Koverchenko, the moral driver torn between being a good soldier and obeying his instincts. This also qualifies as the best tank movie ever made and the T-62 tank that is featured is the real star of the show. I think that the Soviets were using T-72 tanks in this particular conflict but I'm just being a little anal. Overall, this is one of my top ten and I think that any war movie fan should check this one out.

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27 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Lawrence of Arabia, Platoon and Das Boot combined.

Author: Lex from Den Haag, Holland
1 January 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this movie when I did my tour of duty in the Dutch Army, as a loader on a main battle tank. There aren't really much movies played in a tank, but this one is and pretty realistic (other than Rambo where he drives, en shoots with a tank = impossible). The claustrophobic effect is nice portrayed like the u-boat movie Das Boot.

But this movie is more than another war-movie, it has more levels. The differences of opinion between two men in a tank crew shows parallels with Platoon. The country loyal, but ruthless Russian commander is like the Barnes character of Platoon. And the Elias side, the more human character is played by the tank driver, probably the most intelligent person on the tank, who despises the cruel decisions of the tank commander and questions the motive of the Russian government, and the stress and tension in the tank rises to boiling point, not helped by the constant thread of the Afghan mujahedin.

Eventually the driver gets more and more respect for the mujahedin. Like a kind of happens in Lawrence of Arabia or Dances with Wolves. This Afghan warriors are hopelessly out gunned, with only horses and old guns, it's really David against Goliath. This group (with it's leader surprisingly played by Scarface's sidekick Steve Bauer) is also divided, as one part are only interested in money and equipment.

Excellent and underrated war-movie, I suspect the title is not chosen wisely.

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19 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

A great little film nobody knows about!

Author: TOMASBBloodhound from Omaha, NE USA
4 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

That a film as good as The Beast of War is so unknown to the masses is nothing short of criminal. The film is tragic, exciting, suspenseful, and intelligent. From detailed depictions of the Soviet military to the rare glimpse inside the Afghan social structure, this film takes the viewer to places that few films have ever dared to venture. The film is compelling on many levels, and it will stick with you for a long time after you see it.

The film centers around a five-man Soviet tank crew hopelessly lost in Afghanistan after taking part in a vicious raid on a tiny village. The survivors of the village vow to chase this tank to the edge of the earth in order to achieve "badal", which is a fancy word for revenge. Steven Bauer (of Scarface fame) plays their young leader. The tank crew is led by a hard-nosed commander who would seemingly trade the lives of his crew for the safety of his tank. He's played by a slimmed-down George Dzundza who you may recognize, but not be able to name the other films he's been in. (Deer Hunter, No Mercy are a couple of them.) Also on board is an idealistic young driver played by Jason Patric. He and the commander are at odds from the very beginning, and that conflict takes a turn you would never guess at the film's outset.

The tank crew and those in pursuit have numerous skirmishes as the film plays out. The film is so well-crafted that the viewer can emphasize with whatever characters are in the camera lens. We know the Soviets are pigs for the way they have behaved during their invasion, but it's amazing to see what the commander will come up with next to keep the tank running fast enough to keep them just ahead of the rebels who are hot on their tail. Scene after scene punctuates the tragic human cost of such an invasion, and the devastated lives left in its wake.

The film is extraordinarily violent. Director Kevin Reynolds leaves nothing to the imagination regarding the brutality of the Soviet invaders, and the destruction that their weapons have brought to Afghanistan. The film is technically astounding in many respects. Filmed in Israel, the vast desert landscape is a beautiful but desperate backdrop for a film about the savagery of military conflict. I'll bet you won't be able to get some of the violent images out of your head for days after seeing this film. Nor will you be unable to imagine yourself in the shoes of the tank crew completely cut off from help and at the mercy of a merciless commander and an unforgiving desert.

George Dzundza walks away with the film from an acting perspective. How about his line regarding their standing orders once the tank has been disabled by the rebels? As he passes out grenades to the remaining crew members he utters the unforgettable dogma: "Out of commission, become a pillbox; out of ammo, become a bunker: out of time, become heroes...."

See this film. 9 of 10 stars.

The Hound.

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22 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Watch this movie

Author: Haplo-4 from Sweden
24 February 1999

This is one of the best war-movies I have ever seen. Even if it hasn't a lot of action in it, it is still very intense. I think that the director has managed superbly to illustrate the torments of war, especially how it was - and still is - to be a member of a tank-crew on a mission in a foreign coutry. All the actors are doing a fine job and the place for shooting this movie is well chosen. And I must say that I especially appreciate the camera-movements along the tank that makes one understand the power that they contain.

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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Shouldn't be missed

Author: Irish-Sunglasses from Bermuda Triangle
16 December 1998

I just caught this movie last night...I'd never even heard of it before, but I happened across it at Blockbuster. I'm a fan of realistic war movies anyway, but I also liked the fact that Kevin Reynolds directed it. He also did the wonderful Rapa Nui. I have to say this is one of the most gripping films I have seen, and the first I have seen about the Soviet-Afghan war. Great performances by George Dzundza, Jason Patric, and Steven Bauer, who many may remember as Manny Ray from Scarface as the Afghan leader. Definitely worth catching.

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