le 30 août 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.
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. We know the Americans can do accents, at least since `Star Trek', so even some cod Rusky accents would have helped the believability, but they can be forgiven for that as what we are left with is actually a very good example of how to make a good war film, which deals with more than just the fighting. One of the lines that struck me in this was when one of the soldiers says 'You always have a choice!' With that in mind I would advise choosing to see this rather good film.
le 8 février 2004
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.
le 20 mars 2003
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!
le 20 août 2002
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.
However, I did notice a tactical blunder made by the Soviet tank patrol during the film's beginning sequence that never would have occured during the 10 year war in Afghanistan. After the three T-55 tanks enter the remote Afghan village, the crews then actually leave their tanks to finish the job of destroying the place. Hey, screenwriters, haven't you ever heard of mechanized infantry? I'm sure the Soviet Army had plenty of it during that year of the war too. But of course, Mr. Screenwriter, you needed a way for the leader of the village to destroy one of the opened, unprotected tanks with a malitov-cocktail so that the film's "revenge" plot could officially be set in motion.
Anyways, the rest of the plot does turn out to be a good one, with plenty of twists and turns. The acting is good for "B" standards, and the camera work is terrific.
The actors who portray the Afghan Muhajadeen (including Steven Bauer from "Scarface") do speak their lines in some version of the Afghan language, so there are plenty of subtitles that the viewer has to read through out the movie.
le 8 août 2002
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 ! How many did I found ? NON ! ZIP ! ZERRO ! NOTHING ! Then , in 1999 , I watched this one , and said : finaly ! About time ! Than , I was shocked - it was made in 1988 !!! When we was still there ! Usually , I don't tell you , what the movie or book is about . You can read it in other reviews . Usually , I tell you , how I felt about it . This is my way . And , if you read my other reviews , you know what I mean .
But this one is different . This one is too personal to me . THE most realistic movie about the conflict . So ?! A must se !!! I gave it only 4 stars , because I am steel waiting for better one ... new " Platoon " type . Also :
1. It is too simbolic !
2. The story itself - too fake . ( But I was there , I watched it differently ... way too personal ).
But at same time , I have to admit :
1. The last scene - a good hope ! It gives you a right point of view : most of the Afghanis just want everybody to leave them alone ! Russians , talibans , americans - everybody !
2. The only movie , witch showes two different kinds of Afghani fighters . The " Mujahaddins " ( The freadom fighters ). And the " Dushmans " ( Bandits , whitch been always there ).
To all people , who made the movie : THANK YOU !
le 22 janvier 2002
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.
Anyway, I remember taping "The Beast" off of HBO sometime around 1990 or 1991, after of course the Soviet Union had fallen and the Russians were starting to become our friends. So I was confused at the time if I should feel sorry for them (in the movie) or not.
This movie takes place during the Russian Invasion of Afghanistan back in 1981. It's a story where a platoon of Russian T-55 tanks attack a village and then upon withdrawing, one tank lags behind and therefore loses visual contact with the rest of its platoon. They then make one wrong turn at a fork in the road and it leads to a dead end all the while being persued by Afghan Mujahadeen. However there is somewhat of a crew mutanty where the gunner likes to drink the transmission and brake fluid and the loader is an Afghan who is a sympathizer for the Russians while the driver [Jason Patric] is sympathizing with the Afghans. It all ends up where the driver fights alongside the Afghans and ultimately redeems himself by helping the Afghans take out the tank as it reaches the point where it made the wrong turn.
And now it is so ironic that this movie along with Rambo III has greater relevance with current events. I kind of found it ironic that I was actually rooting for the guys with the T-55 tanks this time. (Northern Alliance)
le 24 décembre 2001
The movie depicts the tenacity and (never say die) attitude of the afghan psyche(both Male and female).
The Russians underestimate the resolve of the Nation of the Afghans when they try the same tactics as those from the time of the Tsar to ever creep towards the warm-waters of the arabian gulf---a goal that has been theirs from time immemorial.
After the horrific-bonecrushing view of the Oldman being squashed by the ruthless tank commander---a drama unfolds which is only possible in a country like afghanistan.
The ultra-disciplined Soviet army starts to unravel and the animal like ruthlessness of their tank commander turns on himself as scene after scene shows the steely practical resolve of the fighting spirit in the Afghan bosom.
After infighting--one of the Russians is left to ROT and pleads for NANAWATAI(clemency and forgiveness from the pack of afghani's pursuing him--which they offer--(bound by custom)
The Russian turns against his own and starts to track them down armed with only one anti-tank weapon.
The chase is (Beautiful)--the arms of the 20th century against human resolve--in the end--human resolve wins--how??--you've got to see it.
The human spirit wins out against the most formidable weapons.
le 17 septembre 2001
The political climate at the time of this film's release in 1988 made it impossible for it to obtain the distribution it deserved; the movie itself, taking place during the first full year of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, centers around a Soviet tank crew who are commanded by a miserable officer who is a veteran of the Old School...and the Old War (his details of his exploits as a child in Stalingrad against the Nazis are both chilling and exceptionally revealing). He has no regard for the lives of the people in whose country his armies are "guests" (the government in Kabul at the time was well- supported by Moscow), and he has neither regard for anything he perceives as weakness among his own troops, nor time to listen to anyone who would interfere with his command of them. This leads to the action that ultimately adds the twist of "Badal" (Islamic term for "revenge") as the tankers become lost in a box canyon and attempt to elude Mujahideen (Islamic freedom fighters) as they return to their column.
I know it's an insignificant and meaningless consequence to the actions of September 11, 2001 here in the United States...but I believe this movie should be reassessed and far more appreciated. The decision to allow the Soviets to speak not in the traditional thickly-accented English that can be expected from most intrigue movies, but instead with American dialects (any of these guys could have been extras in "A Bronx Tale") was inspired at the time, and it very effectively humanized an enemy that we in America had been indoctrinated to believe were "an Evil Empire". And in truth, the first scene of the armored attack of an Afghan village pretty much supports this categorization...but as the movie runs its course, you start to wonder.
The Afghans, in contract, speak their native tongue (with subtitles). This is an incredible feat, particularly pulled off by Steven Bauer ("Manolo", from "Scarface") as the young Khan who inherits his position after his elders are killed during Soviet interrogation. The Afghans religiously see their obligation to destroy the Soviets as divine will, and are thoroughly merciless in their attempts to do so. A group that begin the movie as oppressed but gallant freedom fighters slowly reveal themselves to be little short of brigands, literally (at least in the case of their women) thirsty for the blood of their invaders.
Of course, today things are different. Today we as Americans are only beginning to understand the horror that the conflict in Afghanistan was (and continues to be). Today we as a country ask ourselves what we were thinking when we pledged our support to the Mujahideen that eventually begat the Taliban in an attempt to thwart an "Evil Empire" who, for some reason, wanted to control the most worthless patch of land on this planet.
Therefore, I say with great conviction: Watch this movie...and when you find yourself wondering if it's right to feel one way or the other for one side or the other, then you find yourself understanding a little more about what war really is.
le 10 août 2001
...and I've seen quite a few. This is a movie that encloses human drama within the reality and hardship of war. As far as action, it is cruel and realistic, just like the real thing. You can watch this movie over and over and still wonder how they could combine so much action with so much intelectual content. I bet you could sit an action fan and a movie critic and get completely different opinions afterwards. Both guys would be quite impressed by the picture. Technically it sticks to reality quite well. Weapons, aircraft and the tank (real Russian T-62)are fully operational, and actors seem to have received good training in all procedures. You really have to be an Afghan war vet to notice tiny small details like shells comming out of the turret, and projection of rocket explosions, which may not be accurate to the real thing, but, this movie is excellent!! More than excellent. The only reason why this movie could not make it to the top was its deep political message, which, in this millenium, will not be of any importance at all. Watch it... you will want to have it.