Afghan Breakdown (1991) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • The film opens with a scene of an Islamic circumcision. After the opening credits, a line of Mujahedin are shown approaching a roadway where a squad of Soviet soldiers has been slaughtered. They dispatch the lone Soviet survivor with a knife. Soviet reinforcements arrive, and the guerrillas are defeated. As one of them is being interrogated, Major Bandura appears. On Bandura's orders, the prisoner is thrown into a truck which is then soaked with petroleum and set ablaze. After reporting the incident, Bandura meets a green new junior officer, a son of top brass transferred from Czechoslovakia. Bandura is amused by the kid's enthusiasm. Bandura negotiates some R and R for his weary company. He strikes a deal with an Afghani businessman named Gulakhan to provide his men with his women-medics from camp hospital for a trip to town and back to their base. While in the town, a newly arrived, green recruit shoots and kills a street merchant. Major Bandura calmly puts a pistol in the dead man's hand and hustles his company out of town. Gulakhan, meanwhile, is under pressure. The village he lives in is home to a guerrilla commander and they suspect him of ties to the Soviets. After a confrontation with Gulakhan, the commander leads an attack on a convoy of fuel trucks. The first big battle scene of the film, the guerrillas attack with small arms and a high-caliber machine gun from a hillside. The fuel trucks are instantly destroyed, and the Soviet troops are pinned behind their tanks. Bandura orders the crew out of one tank and heroically uses the tank to push the burning trucks off the road, a dangerous maneuver. Bandura catches up with Gulakhan and has his sergeant beat and interrogate him. Gulahkan confesses nothing and is allowed to drive away with his young son. The brass then plans a retaliatory attack against the village the guerrillas use as a base. Bandura and his men are airlifted into position with two tanks. Leaving the tanks behind, they ascend the rugged country in two groups. Their mission is to assassinate the guerrilla commander and his chief deputy. Bandura's group quickly dispatches a sentry, locates the commander's house and kills him. "That's all" Bandura says when the assassination is complete. But then things completely fall apart. The other squad has suffered several casualties. Many of the soldiers cannot see who is shooting at them. Bandura mistakes a particular house for a source of gunfire, and charges in, firing indiscriminately. It turns out to be Gulakhan's house, and Gulakhan's young son watches his father and mother die in a hail of bullets. Eventually the marines are forced to flee to the outskirts of the village and hold off a wave of guerrillas seeking revenge for the slaying of their leader. At this point, a squadron of Hind attack helicopters appears over the mountains, flares popping. They launch swarms of air-to-ground missiles and wreak havoc on the entire village, leaving it in ruins and inflicting death and suffering on the entire population. Bandura is devastated by the ferocity of the helicopter assault, and wanders aimlessly into the village staring at the destruction. Gulakhan's son sees him and picks up a stray assault rifle. Instead of reacting, Bandura turns his back and slowly walks away with the thousand-yard stare. Gulakhan's son guns him down.

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