Dir: Karen Shakhnazarov. Russia. 2012. 104mins
A resolutely old-fashioned ironclad war film, White Tiger - Russia’s official entry for the best foreign language Oscar – is an impressively made World War II action-thriller that delivers no-nonsense wartime drama with a little allegorical action on the side for good measure.
The wartime action fades away in the final scenes as politics rather than tanks take centre stage.
The film, which has been released in Russia and screened at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, at times feels like it was made by Mosfilm of old as a morale-boosting tale of tough and determined Russian soldiers facing up to a seemingly indestructible German tank. It might lack the snappy pace needed to attract modern audiences but there is a solid market out there for war films, especially on home entertainment.
Solidly directed by Karen Shakhnazarov, the film is set in the final months of World War II in Eastern Germany, where a Russian tank driver (Aleksey Vertkov) has had a nasty close encounter with an almost mystical German tank that leaves him with substantial burns. He obsessively engages on a hunt for the tank, and does battle in a series of nicely staged – if rather familiar to those who have watched tank-heavy war films before – action sequences.
The wartime action fades away in the final scenes as politics rather than tanks take centre stage, and while it results in a rather heavy-handed ending to a solidly made film it doesn’t take anything away from the armour-plated endeavours that have gone before.
Production companies: Mosfilm, Channel One Russia
International sales: Mosfilm, www.mosfilm.ru
Producers: Galina Shadur, Karen Shakhnazarov
Screenplay: Aleksandr Borodyanskiy, Karen Shakhnazarov, from the novel Tankman by Ilya Boyashov
Cinematography: Aleksandr Kuznetsov
Editor: Irina Kozhemyakina
Production designer: Sergey Fevralyev
Music: Yuriy Poteenko, Konstantin Shevelyov
Main cast: Aleksey Vertkov, Vitaly Kishchenko, Gerasim Arkhipov, Aleksandr Bakhov