The Beast of War (1988)

R   |    |  Adventure, Drama, War


The Beast of War (1988) Poster

A Soviet tank and its warring crew become separated from their patrol and lost in an Afghan valley with a group of vengeance-seeking rebels on their tracks.

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7.4/10
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  • Steven Bauer in The Beast of War (1988)
  • The Beast of War (1988)
  • The Beast of War (1988)
  • George Dzundza in The Beast of War (1988)
  • Steven Bauer in The Beast of War (1988)
  • Jason Patric in The Beast of War (1988)

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4 January 2009 | sddavis63
9
| The Soviets Lost In Afghanistan
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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