A Soviet tank crew is hunted by vengeful Afghan
rebels during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The Beast (1988)
Directed by Kevin Reynolds
Written by William Mastrosimone
Starring George Dzundza, Jason Patric, Steven Bauer, Stephen Baldwin, Don Harvey, Kabir Bedi, Erick Avari, Chaim Jeraffi
Based on the stage play Nanawatai by William Mastrosimone
I came across The Beast thanks to a fan recommendation from the podcast email. Prior to the suggestion, I had never heard of this film. It's a very strong movie that follows a group of Afghan rebels hunting the Soviet tank squad that destroyed their village and families. You get to see both perspectives of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, an event that led to the creation of the Taliban, and American history buffs can guess where it goes from there. But The Beast is no historical drama. It's an action-packed thriller with real stakes and morally gray characters. In other words, it's everything you could ask from a war movie.
If we had to pick someone to be the hero, it would likely be Konstantin Koverchenko (Patric), a free-thinking Soviet who is left for dead by his tank crew after he disobeys his C.O. Konstantin then joins forces with rebel leader Khan Taj (Bauer) to kill his former comrades and destroy their tank. While it does bug me that the Russians speak American English the whole time, (especially when the Afghans all speak their native tongue) the action scenes and the surprisingly deep character development make up for it. I shouldn't be surprised, though. I knew Kevin Reynolds as the director of 2002's The Count of Monte Cristo, one of my favorites. He's clearly one of the best when it comes to revenge thrillers.
The Beast was a bomb when it came out and is not very well known today outside of cult circles. It's just sitting in Amazon Prime Video's catalog, waiting for someone to stumble upon it. It's an awesome war film you didn't know you needed to see. The cast is great, the battle scenes are better, and the ending is pretty damn satisfying.