Clicky

REVIEW: The Beast of War (1988) | ManlyMovie

REVIEW: The Beast of War (1988)

Run Time: 111 Mins
Rated: R
What To Expect: The best tank movie ever made

Aside from Das Boot, of all the war movies that came out in the 1980’s, this is the best.  I’ll go one further – it’s one of the best war movies ever created.  It didn’t have the promotion of a typical 80’s movie.  It wasn’t hoisted on the shoulders of critics either, so it wasn’t particularly well known.  Like Rambo III, this movie suffered as well because it had the right message at the wrong time.  Rambo in 1988 was blowing up commies just as the Cold War thaw set in.  Since the tank commander in this movie is the antagonist, it falls into the same trap – people didn’t want to hear about it and worse, the actual war had ended.  The fact that it isn’t well know doesn’t mean its a cheap ass picture though.  It’s well shot, they went out of their way to get the real tanks (captured Arab tanks), shoot in in a realistic landscape and got theater distribution by Columbia Pictures.

A Soviet tank crew gets cut off from its unit, lost, then hunted by the Mujahideen in a game of cat and mouse.  I mean, okay, this is a propaganda movie.  But who cares.  The hunters mean business, but so does the tank commander, who rants that he was taking out German tanks as a child and wasn’t about to lose his vehicle to some Afghans.

What this movie gets right first and foremost is having a killer screenplay.  It’s a taut thriller, take your pick of any random 60 second scene and you’ll find it’s relevant and something necessary is happening.  Isn’t it funny that the soldiers in Oliver Stone’s or Kubrick’s movies had time to ponder life like its some meeting in a shrinks office?  There’s none of that shit in this movie.  Ask the meaning of life –  if you’re alive in the next hour.

Which leads to the real selling point of this movie;  its realism.  It’s authentic right down to the nuts, bolts and lingo that are in a real tank. Instead of those questions about the meaning of life, in this movie you’ll find the Commander tearing his driver a new asshole on the merits of conserving brake fluid during a hot war.  This is the Das Boot of tank movies.  That sub crew relied on being kept afloat by a simple rock or keeping the electric engines running, this crew relies on their (sturdy) T-55 in the same way.  Some try to argue that the proverbial ‘Beast’ of the title is the tank, but it can’t be.  Because the tank is crucial to the survival of the crew, and their expertise is crucial to keeping it running just enough to make it to safety.  Ammo, fuel and hope are scarce.  This is a survival action thriller that manages to incorporate all of that realism without losing any of the excitement.

The best release of 1988 by some distance.  They must have had great consultants for this movie – but hopefully not real Communists.

9

 

8 Comments

  1. Pingback: Pictures From WW2 Tank Movie Fury (2014) – Manly Movie

  2. Pingback: REVIEW: Sahara (1995) – Manly Movie

  3. Avatar

    jim

    October 9, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    This movie is the dog’s bollocks. It is superb. One of the best war movies ever made.End of. And practically unknown. Great choice.Essential viewing for all fans of this site.

  4. Avatar

    Mainline DnB

    October 9, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Been meaning to check this film out. Presumably the film that got Kevin Reynolds the job directing Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves three years later and (sadly) Waterworld a few years after that.

  5. Avatar

    Jimmy Smith

    October 9, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    But is it better than Rambo III? I’ve always wanted to check this out because the story and historical event the movie takes place in interests me…. Interestingly enough it seems like we are making the same mistakes in Afghanistan the soviets made …. Know your history or your will repeat it … I will watch this ASAP !!

  6. Avatar

    chromeronin

    February 18, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    The Beast is a metaphor on a couple of levels in this story. The mujahideen villager, David, whose family is slaughtered by the soviet air strike sees the T55 as Goliath, and believes he can take it down in revenge. The soviet command believes he is in the right, that being a Tanker is tough, but he to is an extremist zealot. Konstantin is used to be able to tell the story from both sides, and my favourite line from the whole movie is when he wonders, “When did we become the bad guys?” The whole move is about the cause and effect of the occupation, of war. It is also The Beast. The Russians invade and occupy to put down the civil war, the US arms the mujahideen, who are firing for their homes and way of life. Both sides commit atrocities. The reviewer is right, to me this is the best war movie I think I have seen.

  7. Avatar

    ColonelBobi

    February 14, 2019 at 11:34 am

    If you haven’t seen it yet you need to. It’s in my top 10 war movies ever made yet very few people seem to know about it. Badly promoted and like the review states it was poorly timed.

  8. Pingback: 1988 Movie The Beast – Coloring for Kid