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  Solo Voyage: The Revenge More Russian Dirty Dozen Than Russian RamboBuy this film here.
Year: 1985
Director: Mikhail Tumanishvili
Stars: Mikhail Nozhkin, Aleksandr Fatyushin, Sergey Nasibov, Nartay Begalin, Vitaliy Zikora, Arnis Licitis, Oleg Golubitsky, Valeri Vinogradov, Sergei Volkosh, Nikolay Lavrov, Yuriy Kolganov, Boris Ogorodnikov, Kirill Vats, Nikolai Kurnakov, Veronika Izotova
Genre: Drama, Action, Thriller
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The American Navy are performing military manoeuvres in the Pacific, preparing themselves for the possibility of a nuclear war by using their warhead-carrying vessels. However, one of their Majors, Jack Hessalt (Arnis Licitis) has been contacted by a shady group before he boards the ship, and they have capitalised on his post-traumatic stress disorder spawned by a tour of Vietnam during the war there to push him to be more malleable to their specific interests. Could it be that he could be manipulated out on the ocean to commandeer one of the warships and use the nuclear missiles against the Soviet Union, thereby kicking off the Third World War?

Perish the thought, yet while American cinema was churning out action flicks by the ton all on the subject of how the Russkies could be taken down by the right mixture of mavericks, gun-toting, military-trained mercenaries and/or a well-orchestrated American attack when the Yanks had been pushed just so far themselves and goddammit were not going to take it anymore, the Soviets were curiously reticent to provide a cinematic counterpart. They were subjecting their citizens to movies celebrating another, earlier conflict, the Second World War, where they had triumphed against the Nazis and were rightfully proud of that achievement. But the Cold War? Nyet.

However, in the nineteen-eighties one little item was brave enough to tackle what the authorities in the U.S.S.R. were reluctant to discuss with their public, the threat of global thermonuclear war, which in the West had become an obsession in movies, television, books and even the pop charts. This was Odinochnoye plavanye, translated variously as Solo Voyage: The Revenge, The Detached Mission or simply The Russian Rambo, as it was more or less the sole example of their nation attempting to beat the Americans at their own game. That it did not exactly set the world's box offices alight was telling as to how far they succeeded, and ever since this has been a curio not many took a chance on.

Watching it, you can see why, as its reputation was more interesting than the reality, with the first two thirds taken up with a lot of talk between characters who may or may not be important to the eventual bursts of action that constituted the last half hour. Hessalt (who may or may not be called that as a pun on "asshole") is plainly not a well man, and he keeps edging towards potentially mass destructive madness with every scene, Nam flashbacks made up of Vietnamese civilians being abused by G.I.s in black and white news footage. So if he was not our Rambo, who was? Technically, this could have been sending up the concept of the violent Vietnam War vet as hero, but then again there was the crack Russian squad of soldiers who wind up on a nearby island - and US Army base.

They were the actual heroes, joined by an American tourist, Jack Harrison (Vitaliy Zikora), who has his yacht blown up while he and his wife Caroline (Veronika Izotova) are sailing; they end up shipwrecked on the island as well. One cliché director Mikhail Tumanishvili evidently took note of was what happened to women in eighties action movies out of the U.S.A., therefore it's no surprise how she ends up, the only woman in the film aside from some Brazilian dancers early on. Meanwhile, the leader of the squad, Major Shatokhin (Mikhail Nozhkin), squares his jaw and sets about actually gunning down Americans - the troops allied with the crazy villain, true, but this was a rare occasion to see Soviets executing Americans in a fictional context out of Russia. There was a sense that this was either a poor translation of action tropes to a context across the Atlantic, or a serious drama about how precarious the peace was in the eighties, or perhaps a mixture of those, but novelty value aside it was merely middling as entertainment. Music by Viktor Babushkin.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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