Vampire Owl: So, we are travelling further through unexplored territories.
Vampire Bat: I am sure that we should have travelled through these movies much earlier.
Vampire Owl: A Russian and Serbian collaboration is the kind of movie that we needed.
Vampire Bat: We have had a good dose of movies with collaboration already.
Vampire Owl: But, we are never short of having more and more of those.
Vampire Bat: These are all a result of the Corona Virus lock-down though.
Vampire Owl: We always have the chance to watch more movies during times of crisis.
Vampire Bat: It is nice to have some stories set somewhere around the Balkans.
Vampire Owl: There is some history about that place that we need to read about too.
Vampire Bat: Yes, our history texts in this part of the world don’t have enough information about it, and it is quite disappointing.
[Gets an blueberry cake and three cups of masala tea].
What is the movie about? :: The events in the movie happen during the Kosovo War which was fought between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo Albanian rebel group known as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), with further air support from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Albanian Army which was there to provide support on ground. The NATO military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had reached a another level during the Kosovo War with their bombing of the country without the approval of United Nations, and in opposition to Russia and China, in the name of humanitarian intervention for Albanians who were forced to move out of their homes. As the disastrous bombing which caused many civilian deaths and mass destruction is almost over, Slatina airfield in Kosovo is taken over by terrorists led by a ruthless Albanian warlord, Smuk (Aleksandar Sreckovic). There is an operation planned by the Russian intelligence to capture the airfield from the terrorists, and a team is formed for the same.
So, what happens with the events here? :: As the Yugoslavian army had retreated following the merciless NATO bombing, the terrorists from Albania had taken over most of Kosovo. The Serbian minority in different parts of Kosovo remains unprotected from these terrorists targeting them, as these criminals plundered, murdered and raped through the area, and the duty of recapturing this particular airfleld came to the Russian intelligence officer Aslan-Bek Evkhoev (Gosha Kutsenko) and a former paratrooper-turned-mercenary Andrey Shatalov (Anton Pampushnyy) with their teams. At the same time time, Jasna Blagojevic (Milena Radulovic) whom Andrey had met and saved earlier from the terrorists who were targeting Christians, especially Russians and Serbians, was also taken as a hostage, and after they take over the airfield, they would have to defend it after being outnumbered heavily. Can they do it at a time of hostility when neither side will dare to stand back, whether it is about showing bravery in war or ruthlessness in genocide?
The defence of The Balkan Line :: It has to be noted that The Balkan Line is a movie with many moments which rise above those scenes from war films which are overrated. The final one hour is a real treat to watch, and the final forty five minutes make a blast like no other. With those action sequences, the movie scores higher than ever, and the last stand in the airport is a glorious one, with almost every soldier catching our attention. There is an act of bravery or brutal strength that will stay. The actors are all perfectly chosen for their roles, and they have given almost everyone something to cheer about. As this seems to have fictionalized moments too, there is no need to think too much about how accurate this is because two sides will always have different tales to tell and can make movies out of them, but what is shown on the screen is excellent work. There is no doubt about the quality of action that we see on the screen, and the thrills are too good with high intensity.
Positives and negatives :: The Balkan Line is a little too long for a movie of the genre, and it does drag in the beginning stages, but it does pick up the pace quite well. This much of a grand finish might not have been expected in the middle stages of the movie. There might be questions about historical accuracy, but as it seems, a lot of this movie is fictionalized, especially the main incident in the end having not much of a historical background. After all, there is always more than one side to history, but we can always come up with tales of heroes, especially those who were not real – but there could be some truth to things in parts. This movie is more or less about the fictionalized fight in the last moments, and that glory can easily take away the rest of its problems. With that, I would say that I am glad to have found this movie, with one of the best entertainment in the final one hour. We are completely into that battle in and around that airfield which is a glorious one indeed.
Performers of the soul :: The movie seems to have a team of Serbian and Russian actors working here, and they manage to do the job fine for a war flick. Among them, Anton Pampushnyy plays the most notable role, as he has those moments which are the most memorable for us, including that incident involving him saving the passengers of a bus after a priest is murdered by the terrorists. He remains solid as his character, and Gosha Kutsenko who is the leader of the gang maintain the same solid structure here. Ravshana Kurkova who plays the sniper of the team makes herself perfectly suitable for the action, and never stays behind, matching up with everyone around. Milena Radulovic who plays the doctor with some special interest in the man who saved her life, is another one to look out for – from witnessing the death of her pregnant patient and moving through hostage situations, there is the feeling of melancholy on her face, which reflects the situation of the world around her quite well. The rest of the case supports well.
How it finishes :: It is always good to watch movies like The Balkan Line because we no longer has NATO or the United States saving the day here, like almost of all alien movies and war movies are concerned. This way, we also get a different perspective of things, even if these are somewhat based on a few incidents during a war which happened some time ago with a fictionalized side. Then there is also the need to watch movies in other languages, and Serbian is also one of them, after watching The Whistlers, a Romanian movie. There seems to be some fine Eastern European movies which one would need to watch, and The Balkan Line is one of them. After all, we also have Novak Djokovic, one of the best on the tennis court, an entertainer who has not many parallels – this movie is also one fine entertainer, and it has moments which will establish itself as one of those interesting war movies, even though not as much as American Sniper and others which have followed the wars with full realism.
Release date: 21st March 2019
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Andrey Volgin
Starring: Anton Pampushnyy, Ravshana Kurkova, Milena Radulovic, Gosha Kutsenko, Miloa Bikovic, Gojko Mitic, Sergey Marin, Nodari Janelidze, Kirill Polukhin, Dmitriy Frid, Svetlana Chuykina, Aleksandar Sreckovic, Miodrag Radonjic, Nikola Randelovic, Roman Kurtsyn
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.