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Gritty tale of a Soviet 'penal battalion' in World War II
With the war not going well for the Soviet Union, Stalin accepted volunteers from the prisons and used the prisoners as shock troops. This is the story of one such battalion. There are petty crooks, political prisoners, soldiers kicked out of other units, gray-haired veterans of the White Army plus some dangerous criminals.
They are thrown into battle ill-equipped, untrained and face the threat of the NKVD if they show signs of cowardice or failure.
The special effects are rudimentary and many of the minor characters are one-dimensional, but the overall story is very human and riveting.
I have not seen a version with subtitles or dubbing. Viewing the show required liberal use of the pause button and explanations from a native speaker of Russian.
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