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Monday, August 31, 2009

SVOLOCHI / BASTARDS (2006)


Here’s the pitch: With WWII raging, a ragtag group of amoral, hardened criminals are rounded up and condemned to death. There’s just one way out, serve your country on a suicide mission and hope to beat the odds & survive. Sure, it’s THE DIRTY DOZEN/’67, but with a Russian twist; the cons are all kids! It’s THE JUVENILE DELINQUENT DIRTY DOZEN, an idea both appalling and irresistible. Megger Aleksandr Atanesyan starts up in lively fashion with some seriously violent gang action, but he never bothers to explain why the army specifically needs kids for the big mission, the kids’ well-honed felonious skills barely come into play. The expected tropes of feuds & bonding make their appearance, but we only get to know about five or six characters so our emotional investment is limited. Worse yet, we never get the sort of technical detail on the climactic mission to properly understand the hellish logistics. We watch, but don’t participate. What does come across is a breathtaking level of callous indifference toward the fate of these young kids that may be closer to the mark than the filmmakers intended. But the ghastly idea, as noted, really is irresistible and the film is intensely watchable.


SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Can someone explain the kiddie-porn poster for the film?

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