March 18, 2004

Movie Review - The Beast (1988)

Not the 50's horror feature of the same name, this movie is sometimes found under the title "The Beast of War".

The Beast of the title is a tank. A Soviet main battle tank involved in the invasion of Afghanistan, which becomes separated from the rest of its unit. The story involves the crew of the tank and their efforts to rejoin their comrades despite being surrounded by hostile mujadeen and forbidding country. It's a war story, but the focus is on the people involved on both sides, both Soviet tank crew and Afghan's fighting the invaders.

There are rumors that you can occasionally find this one in the $5.00 bargain bin at WalMart. I haven't seen it there, but I'm going to look more carefully from now on.

Another underappreciated movie, this one is thumbs up, comrades!

Posted by Ted at March 18, 2004 08:10 AM
Category: Cult Flicks

Its also a allegory for the US involvement in Vietnam. The comparison are interesting. Note the accents of the tank crew ... hardly "Russian". Tank = technology at war with a "people's army".

Not a bad flick.

Posted by: McQ at March 18, 2004 11:24 AM

Superb war movie, understated but very realistic (to this retired Army officer).

Saw it on a pay channel a long time ago (made in very early 80's I believe). Repeated very occasionally on TV over the years but haven't seen it in last several.

The actual title I remember is just plain "The Beast". Unfortunately every time I look for it on TV to tape it, I only find the recent sci-fi movie of the same name (giant octopus after a fishing boat in the Pacific NW, William Hurt? can't remember).

The movie stands out in my mind as it is tactically realistic at all levels. No "endless" ammo belts; the tank has the normal and frequent maintenance problems that anyone who has ever been around heavy tracked armored vehicles knows happens all the time; the limitations of the Soviet RPG-7 anti-tank grenade launcher are shown, etc. Plus the Afghan villagers are portrayed realistically, as well as the standard Soviet brutal tactics employed in Afghanistan that often violated the laws of war. The brutal Russian tank commander's contempt/distrust for his "collaborationist" Afghan trainee who is part of the Russian tank crew is an illuminating part of the story in displaying why they "lost" Afghanistan.

They appear to be using a real T-62 (T-72? can't remember) Soviet tank. I think the producers must have gotten active help from US Army Opposing Forces detachments (used to be one at Fort Hood TX), because the tank crew actions and attitudes remind me of US tank crews. The actors make no effort to use fake Russian or Middle East accents either, which to my mind disdains "phoniness" and is therefore a positive feature, but eerie because they seem like U.S tankers. Yet eerie is good, because death can happen suddenly, coming from anywhere with no warning after long periods of no action and boredom (just like actual combat).

I think they really capture the spirit of the place (ie, a scene with a "mad" Afghan religious mullah, dancing in front of a fire and calling on God to destroy the infidels). Chills the blood.

Posted by: Paul H. at March 18, 2004 06:07 PM

Concurring, not a bad flick.
The tank in the movie is a T-55 captured by Israel and modified with a US-type 105mm tank cannon. Just a little nitpicking.

Posted by: Bob M at March 26, 2004 01:17 PM

Yess,, i was looking for this old squeeze but could not find it on the web,,

Now I know it's called "The Beast of War" too..

Great movie! Machine vs Human!

Posted by: M.K at September 1, 2005 01:16 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Site Meter