Published on August 22nd, 2007 | by Chris1
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.
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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 InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Manufacturer: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Original Release Date:
- Jason Patric
- Stephen Bauer
- Stephen Baldwin
- George Dzundza
- Special Features include Digitally Mastered Audio &amp;amp;amp; 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.
Summary: Great acting and direction, along with a decent soundtrack make get The Beast an eight on my scale.