Original / alternative title: The Beast
Running time: 110 minutes
Language: English / Pushto
Crew of Soviet T-55 tank quickly learns how unforgiving the Afghanistan theatre of war is - one moment they are the hunters, one mistake turns them into prey for the Mujahideen fighters.
Attack of Soviet tanks on a Pashtun village proves to be more challenging than they expected - Mujahideen fighters are armed in recoilless gun and RPGs. Few of the tanks are damaged, but finally the Soviets overpower the defenders. As retaliation for the death of his men Commander Daskal orders his men to crash one of the defenders under the tank track. As they are leaving the village victorious their T-55 tank is damaged - radio does not work, they have no contact with HQ and the commander map was partly destroyed by the flames. Now separated from their unit Daskal and his crew have to find a way back to base, but he makes mistake in his assessment of their locations and leads the tanks straight into blind valley. Mujahideen fighters find their people killed by Soviets and when they realize the tank has lost the way they set out to ambush the crew. Aboard the tank Daskal and the naive young driver Koverchenko are arguing over the way commander is behaving while on the hostile territory - Koverchenko is convinced they should follow the rules, while Daskal, who as a kid fought in World War 2, thinks all is fair in war and his judgement is better than some inexperienced young officer. The conflict builds up, which is not a good sign when there are people hunting you down among the mountains of Afghanistan.
American war film, one of the best war films with tanks as the main theme, but typically for American cinema with very little consideration for the realism. There are several problems with the script, in some parts it is simply appallingly badly written and full of absurd ideas, which makes the whole production value a bit worse than it could have been. In some parts The Beast of War (or The Beast) is a blindingly obvious propaganda that tried to proved (and quite rightly) that Soviet invasion was a senseless and brutal demonstration of power, but it was made very heavy-handedly.
Our rating: 6.0 / 10
Film value: 7 / 10
Realism factor: 2 / 5
Adventure factor: 4 / 5
Historical accuracy factor: 2 / 5
War films are not always showing the war per se - often the main theme is the influence of the conflict on lives of people involved, but also their families and friends. War is seldom a local thing - the trauma, the pain, the death they put their mark on people from around the world.