In 1941, at the height of World War II, the Nazi forces of Germany advance through Europe. Outside of Moscow, Junior Lieutenant Nikolay Ivushkin (Alexander Petrov) and his unit push back with the aid of the mighty T-34 tank.
Ivushkin and his tank driver, Stepan (Viktor Dobranaravov), are captured and imprisoned in a concentration camp. German tank Commander Standartenführer Klaus Jäger (Vinzenz Kiefer) arrives with a new mission.
Jäger is tasked to assemble a prisoner crew of tank drivers for the SS Panzer Division training. Ivushkin and the crew see this as a way to escape, using another T-34 and fight their way free across enemy lines…
Making big money in Russia on release back in January 2019, the UK finally gets a home release to see a very well produced, acted and explosive take on World War II. This time, from the eyes of a Russian tank crew trying to escape Nazi forces.
Think of the big-budget Western tank film Fury, spliced with The Fast And The Furious and add a dose of Papillon, you have T-34 (or ‘Iron Fury’ as it has been renamed for the UK release). With authentic set design from Konstantin Pagutin to literally spend days blowing up with restored and replicated Panzer and T-34 tanks, this is a refreshing look at the tank battles and Russian side of the great war.
The steel-eyed Alexander Petrov plays our lead Nikolay, in charge of both tanks and great escapes from prison camps. Vinzenze Kiefer is on hand as the SS-Standartenführer Klaus Jäger, complete with Bond-villain scars and a cruel streak that cements his menace. With a supporting cast including Irina Starshenbaum as love interest Anya and Viktor Dobronaravov as the eccentric Stephan, this is a wonderfully authentic film experienced best with the natural tongue and English subtitles.
While the over-use of “tank bullet time” gets very stale early on, the enthusiasts out there may take glee in seeing so many angles of tank combat in glorious slow motion. Away from the gimmicks of the slow-mo, the detail and props are all as good as they look, bringing the era to life in a very dark and, at times, desperate film where hope flickers like a waning candle, high and then on the verge of extinguishing.
Entertaining for what it is, but probably one for the real war enthusiasts out there as this is a different world away from the overly capitalist Western glorification of war with big-name stars and grandeur.
Dir: Aleksey Sidorov
Scr: Aleksey Sidorov
Cast: Alexander Petrov, Vinzenz Kiefer, Irina Starshenbaum, Viktor Dobronoravov, Anton Bogdanov, Semyon Tresunov & Artyom Bystrov
Prd: Ruben Dishdishyan, Anton Zlatopoloskiy, Len Blavatnik, Nelly Yaralova, Nikita Mikhalkov, Leonid Vereshchagin, Yuliya Ivanova & Nikolay Larionov
DOP: Mikhail Milashin
Music: Vadim Maevskiy, Aleksandr Turkunov, Ivan Burlyaev & Dmitriy Noskov
Run time: 136 mins
This Spirit Entertainment release is available on DVD and Blu-ray from January 27th 2020.