The 9th Company (15) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

A massive hit in its native Russia, Fyodor Bondarchuk's portrait of fledgling Soviet soldiers fighting to the death in 1980s Afghanistan courts comparison with Platoon and Full Metal Jacket. It recalls the former in its focus upon the innocence of the conscripts, and the latter in its dramatic structure: the first half deals with young recruits brutalised in boot camp; the second with arrival in the war zone and the bitter struggle to survive. The parallels with current military misadventures are unequivocal, as soldiers search mountain territory for an enemy they barely comprehend, while Bondarchuk's confidence with a set piece ensures that the tension rarely slackens: one amazing sequence describes the fate of a Russian plane that's hardly left the runway before hostile fire comes down. On the debit side, the music is repetitive and overbearing, and the film has no real thematic ambition beyond restating the old "war is hell" adage.

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