1980s The Beast (1988)

Published on August 22nd, 2007 | by Chris

1

The Beast (1988)

Review of: The Beast (1988)

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On August 22, 2007
Last modified:October 8, 2012

Summary:

Great acting and direction, along with a decent soundtrack make get The Beast an eight on my scale.

The Beast (1988)In 1988, the Soviets began their withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending their bloody occupation, and indeed ended their own "Vietnam" if you will.  The Mujahideen had won (or maybe the Soviets just lost,) and America cheered at the Red Menace's defeat.

In The Beast, we get a glimpse into that conflict.  The film focuses on the crew of a Soviet tank, who has just destroyed a village, and brutally (and graphically I might add) killed its citizens.  The fanatical Commander Daskal (George Dzundza) then heads off to rendezvous with the rest of his division, but gets lost along the way, trapped in a desolate desert valley.

The remaining men from the village (who were away during the attack) join forces with a rival "warlord" and hunt the tank with a found RPG launcher.  Meanwhile, one of the tank crew, Constantine Koverchenko (Jason Patric) takes issue with Daskal, and finds himself on the side of the Afghans.

In a way this film reminds me a lot of Blackhawk Down, in that the plot lines are somewhat similar, with the stranded superpower in a strange land behind enemy lines hunted by the native forces.  Although the audience's sympathies are designed to lie with the locals this time.

And really, this is a damn good movie.  The first sequence of events left me wondering what I was in for, with the vicious attack on the village and the graphic death of its leader.  But all that is meant to cement the Soviets as the villians.  There are other instances of their abominable actions, such as poisoning the water supplies.

Unfortunately, while this really is a good movie (really!) events of recent years leave a bias in your head that is difficult to overcome.  Knowing what the Afghan Mujahideen eventually evolved into, and what (and who) their ranks spawned is always in the back of your mind, and quite frankly you find yourself, despite the opening sequence, not sure who's side you should be on.  This feeling is furthered by the excellent work of Patric and the rest of his tank crew (Stephen Baldwin and Don Harvey) as they morally clash with the borderline-crazy Daskal, on numerous occasions, and you find yourself sympathizing with them as well.

The roles of the Afghans, in particular Taj (Steven Bauer), the new "Khan", are equally well played, even in the face of their lines being all in Arabic (Farsi? Hell, I'm no linguistic expert) and subtitled.

I won't spoil the ending for you, but suffice it to say that closure is brought on all sides.  Well, the ones that matter anyway.  You never get to see what happens to the remaining two "tankers."  (whoops! I did spoil it a little!)

This little-known treasure surprised me.  The tension between the tank crew gets really thick at times, and the tug on your emotions back and forth between the crew and the fighters will keep you on your toes.  The action is really not bad either, although there are a few graphic moments which, while they may be "accurate", can seem a bit gratuitous.  Great acting and direction, along with a decent soundtrack make get The Beast an eight on my scale.

The Beast The Beast
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Description

Afghanistan, 1981, and the Soviet Union is locked in a futile and bloody battle with the Mujahedeenguerrillas. Separated from their patrol, the crew of a Russian T-62 tank engages in a deadly game of cat and mouse with the local insurgents led by Taj (Steven Bauer)...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Brand: PATRIC,JASON
Manufacturer: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Jason Patric
  • Stephen Bauer
  • Stephen Baldwin
  • George Dzundza

Features

  • Special Features include Digitally Mastered Audio & Video
  • * Bonus Trailers * Talent Files
  • * Dolby Surround Sound in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese
  • * Subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai
  • * Interactive Menus and Scene Selection.

Reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! The movie is entertaining and makes you think., October 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Beast (DVD)
Everyone should see this movie. Buy it from Amazon. Or borrow it from me. It's 1981 Afghanistan and the Soviet Union is bogged down in a bloody and futile battle with Mujahedeen guerrillas. After slaughtering an Afghan village, one tank crew gets lost and plays a cat and mouse game with local insurgents whose family members the Russians just slaughtered. I cried for the characters, I leaned forward with wide eyes at the action, and I lost my mind in the plot. The movie movie facilitates contemplation about our own bloody war in the same country - the similarities and the differences. The tyrannical tank commander, Daskal, reminisces about the good war - WWII. He treats this war as just the same, but is it? How similar to us Americans who celebrate the war against the evil Nazis while our hearts fill with distraught over our more recent conflicts. In the end, Soviet tank driver Constantine(really cool name btw) Koverchenko (Jason Patric - hot body) concludes this is "no... Read more
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent movie about the Afghan war, August 22, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Beast (Amazon Video)
This is an excellent movie depicting the Russian occupation of Afghanistan and the difficulties and hostilities from the people towards the Russian army. The action is very real as the tank crew (the beast) try to join their own forces after getting lost during operations. I found the movie exciting, realistic and very impressive acting by the cast. I highly recommend this movie to anyone interested in war action and specially the Afghan war.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Deep conflicts of conscience amid world crisis, July 7, 2016
By 
Baraq Chagar (Northeast OH USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Beast (DVD)
First encountered on TV, this film authentically depicted the sort of challenges faced by all invading armies. The failings of protocols and directives was a theme since personality conflicts between characters, isolation, prejudice, strategy and strange friendships all are woven into the very involving plot. Right away sympathies and other emotions are pulled from the viewer by the talent of outstanding acting. Filmed in deserts of Israel, the scenery well matched the story. Indeed, a plainly simple and outstanding display of human frailty versus international battle. Language is slightly rough but tastefully placed, not merely used to cover weak dialogue. A very engaging film.
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The Beast (1988) Chris

Summary: Great acting and direction, along with a decent soundtrack make get The Beast an eight on my scale.

4.0


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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



One Response to The Beast (1988)

  1. DCnDC says:

    You’re totally right this is a genuinely great movie. A perfect snapshot into a conflict that we in the US were never really privy to. First saw it as a teenager back in the day, loved it, and was one of the first DVDs I ever bought when such things were new. Even knowing what we know now about the Afghans, watching the brutality of the Soviets in the beginning makes it difficult not to sympathize with their plight as the film progresses.

    As to the fate of the other two tankers, if memory serves (haven’t watched this in a while) I believe it’s inferred that the Afghan women get to them as Jason Patric’s character escapes.

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