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The Beast (Bilingual)

George Dzundza , Jason Patric , Kevin Reynolds    DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
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Product Description


The director of Waterworld teams up with playwright William Mastrosimone for a story of a lost Russian tank during the Afghan war; doesn't sound like your normal action fare, does it? Despite its awkward origins, The Beast is a satisfying action yarn that unfortunately was never widely distributed. When Afghan rebels find the lone tank lost in the high desert, a cat-and-mouse chase commences with nail-biting, emotional precision. The Russian tank crew is also at war with themselves after the sympathetic driver (a stalwart Jason Patric) debates the brutal tactics of his commander (George Dzundza). This visceral action drama was adapted from--believe it or not--a stage play but keeps its feet firmly planted in the war-action genre. Director Kevin Reynolds's second film showcases his aggressive camera work that was featured later, less successfully, in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Made directly after the Afghan war, the film was hard to sell in the late 1980s. With the Russians speaking English (and the Afghans their native dialect), the viewer is uncomfortably bonded to the unpopular aggressors. Yet the film reverberates in the sweat and toil of battle, with Patric bringing a more dramatic flair to the role than comes from the usual set of cinematic action heroes. --Doug Thomas

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very good; but fullscreen? Aug. 30 2006
I saw this movie as kid and remember loving it; I bought it 17 years later anbd still love it. But the product description says fullscreen/widescreen... aspect ratio 1.85:1. This is good, however the version I recieved was fullscreen. Only. No option to change. Clearly this is a mistake and I hope anybody planning on buying this movie realizes that they will probably recieve a fullscreen version and once you rip off the impenatrable plasic wraping, you can't return it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 'We are a Flea in the Tail of a Bear!' May 19 2011
This is an American made film set in 1981 during the Russo-Afghan war. It starts with a stark reminder of what awaits the fallen in Afghanistan with the oft quoted final verse from Rudyard Kipling's `The Young British Soldier';

"When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier."

That was of course written for the British Second War in that country. This then sets us up for what is going to be pretty brutal. The opening sequences are centred on a small village that is attacked and razed ruthlessly by a detachment of `Russian' tanks. They are callous and depart after reeking havoc. In the aftermath we meet the surviving Afghans and they discover that one of the tanks has lost the main column and has strayed into a nearby valley. This valley is a dead end and will make the tank easy prey.

The tank is the proverbial `beast', but it could also refer to the tank commander who is a caricature of evil, bordering on the psychotic. The tensions that are thrown up under his command are constant and escalating. He is driven by hate and rules with an iron will.

The cinematography is excellent and the landscape, bleak but strangely beautiful, the Afghans do speak Pashto and the sub titles are very good.

The Afghans have their riffs too, and they are also played out, not least the problem of keeping their women out of the fighting. There is a lot of tension, and action throughout, this film races along whilst building momentum through out and I really did enjoy it. The one point that got me was the fact that the `Russians' are clearly all American with their own accents.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Important film in 2004..... June 17 2004
By A Customer
Cuban-American actor Steven Bauer (aka. Rocky Echevarria) who played Manolo in "Scarface" does a great job as a Mujahideen freedom fighter in this film. All his lines are delivered in Pashto. Fantastic acting! This film actually serves as a very important propaganda piece by the current Karzai government in Afghanistan and is now shown throughout the country.
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By chris
This a great film as those few who have seen it will testify - Really gritty stuff. They must have changed the name because I distinctly remember it used to be known as 'The Beast of War', a better title.
It is pretty graphic in areas, I saw it as a kid and the scene with the guy getting driven over by a tank certainly didn't help me get to sleep. War is hell, to say the least.
As people have pointed out, they used actual soviet T-62 tanks in the film and it really added to the realism and overall effect. Suffice to say it's not going to make you want to become a tank commander any time soon. The T-62 is dark and dingy inside and definitely didn't come with any cupholders.
Performances are great across the board. It's interesting to see Jason Patric in such an early role, but George Dzunda as the tank commander spearheads the cast.
Yes, some people have noted the helicopter isn't an actual Mi-8, but I don't know how they could have gotten their hands on one back in 1988 anyway, it's a minor quibble and I'm just glad they didn't respray an M-1 to make it the T-62!;)
The desert landscape is cruel and unrelenting, yet strangely beautiful.
All up, five stars, this is tight, solid film, that will hold your interest throughout and is superbly shot. Perhaps somewhat topical at the moment, it's well worth a view.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Hunter Becomes the Hunted Oct. 23 2003
By A Customer
Kevin Reynolds directed this film with a script by William Mastrosimone. Although stylized and a little exaggerated, the film is a great at showing how techonology doesn't always get the upper hand in certain environments: nowhere is this truer than in Afghanistan. The rugged mountainous and desert terrain is mostly inhospitable and full of hiding places for guerrilla fighters such as the Mujahadeen.
I found Jason Patric to be the least believable character in this story. I find it hard to believe that a Soviet tank driver, even if he were to disagree with his superiors or the war, would suddenly join the Afghans in fighting his compatriots; an act tatamount to desertion and treason. The best performance was that of George Dzundza who played the hard and tempered tank commander. The movie follows the tank as it wanders lost through the desert like a wounded animal being stalked by hunters. Altogether an enjoyable action movie that is well paced with good acting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great flick; despite the tactical inaccuracies March 20 2003
By Ross
This movie is great! ... I have since watched it over and over. Some reviews I have read focus on the tactical mistakes and lack of a "real" Russian helicopter in the film. The interesting thing about this is, war is chaotic. Sometimes tactics go out the window when faced with flying bullets. Even if the Russians used Motorized Rifle units as escorts for their armor, there's no saying that armor NEVER ventured out on their own. Heck, maybe this armored unit was part of a larger force that was simply making a reconnaisance-in-force. Also, the helicopter used in the movie was NOT that much different than the Mi-8 which, as it turns out, looks exactly like the one in the movie. If you don't believe me, check it out. Anywho, being a veteran and knowing how the rules of war are almost always broken, the so-called tactical "mistakes" made in the movie are easily overlooked. The main point of this movie is to give the viewer a feeling of the brutality of war and how it changes ordinarily sane people, into first monsters, callous to their nature, then fearful refugees to the carnage they created. This movie is both entertaining and yet, emotionally invoking. You get the sense that the real "enemy" is not the Mujahadeen pursuers, but the maniacal tank commander, driving his men to the brink of destruction. The last thing I'd like to say about this movie is its WONDERFUL soundtrack. The music definitely sets the mood. Now, if only I could find the soundtack. Arista records doesn't seem to know where to find it. I wish I knew!
Buy this movie, you won't be disappointed!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my fav war movies
I just love this movie and its great to see it made it to the dvd format i had a tape of it it's so old half the audio and graphics are gone do to time and age of tape. Read more
Published on Nov. 21 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Afghanistan? Alright!!
Great War Movie!
And a rare one too because it is about the Soviet military prescence during 1981.
Most everything about this film is very well done. Read more
Published on Aug. 20 2002 by PeterMcR
4.0 out of 5 stars The best...so far !
The only one movie on the market , which gives you the Soviet side of the story on the war in Afghanistan . I was looking for a good movie about the conflict for DECADES ! Read more
Published on Aug. 8 2002 by Vlad
5.0 out of 5 stars One if the best war movies
I've watched this movie dozens of times (recorded from cable) but could never find it on VHS; a friend of mine was actually able to find it on ebay for 20 bucks. Read more
Published on July 3 2002 by J. Carney
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent war pic
Predictable but well acted. Dzundza does fine work as does Patric. Dzundza's potrayal of the merciless tank commander is very well done. Check it out. Read more
Published on June 7 2002 by Phillip G. Cameron
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a thinking man's war movie...
A very poignant and different war drama (the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan that started in 1979), that is actually based upon a stage play. Read more
Published on March 22 2002 by M. Winelid
4.0 out of 5 stars Out of fuel, become a pillbox. Out of ammo, become a bunker.
Out of time, become heroes.
That was one of my favorite lines in the movie near the end when obviously the line was the truth as to the status of their T-55 tank. Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2002 by Razr Maxx
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