Demony wojny wedlug Goi (Demons of War) (1998)
Director: Wladyslaw Pasikowski.
Starring: Boguslaw Linda (Maj. Edward Keller), Zbigniew Zamachowski (Cpl. 'Houdini' Moraczewski), Tadeusz Huk (Maj. Czeslaw Kusz), Miroslaw Baka (Cichy), Artur Zmijewski (Pvt. Biniek), Olaf Lubaszenko (Lt. Czacki), Tadeusz Szymków (Borun), Denis Delic (Dano Ivanow), Bartlomiej Topa (Max), Aleksandra Niespielak (Nicol), Radoslaw Pazura (Pvt. Jankowski), Szymon Bobrowski (Pvt. Jacek Borun), Zbigniew Zapasiewicz (Minister), Christoph Rex-Jarnot (Filip), Alja Nikitovic (Marija).
Polish UN peacekeepers in the Bosnian War
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the
entire film. Curse word.
The Balkans, February 1996. People are rummaging through the remains of a building that has been completely destroyed. Around the corner comes a mob of people pushing before them three men in military uniforms. They tie them to a fallen tree and then prepare to execute them. The UN troops, however, arrive in time to save the three men. The men are let go in the middle of a bridge. The biggest captive says thanks to Major Edward Keller. Keller asks if the guy is a mercenary, since he spoke in Polish. The fellow says he's a soldier, like the major himself. The major takes his helmet off and then busts the fellow in the head knocking him over the bridge and onto some rocks. After the big fellow picks himself up, he says they will meet again. The major says: "Let's not."
The major tells his men: "Asshole. Came here to rape and kill." One soldier suggests they shoot the guy, who is now walking away from them. The major just tells his men to get back into the armored personnel carriers.
A plane filled with high ranking officials and soldiers are about to set down in the Balkans. Two fellows talks about Major Keller. He had wanted to hold command until the end of winter, but now after the scandal with the mercenaries it's impossible. Keller says he let the mercenaries go and one official says: "Pray to God it's true." There will be an investigation by Lt. Czacki from the Judge Advocate General's office. The soldier who sits across from the official is speaking to the new battalion commander, whose job it will be to support Lt. Czacki. The official hopes the major did not kill the mercenaries. "Otherwise, we'll have to withdraw the entire Polish contingent." And that could effect Poland's efforts to join NATO. The new battalion commander says he kicked Keller out of his unit because he abused his soldiers.
When the plane arrives a woman reporter asks the minister: "Minister, was the change in command of the 2nd battalion caused by the clash between the Polish unit and the Bosnian militia?" The minister says he doesn't even know if there was a clash. She asks if Major Keller caused the Srebrenica Incident? The minister is frustrated with all these questions and suggests that the news that Poland is joining NATO should be of a lot more interesting to the reporter than this incident.
Corporal Houdini walks up to Major Kusz, salutes and says that he is the major's driver. Kusz says that Lt. Czacki is coming along with them.
Major Keller's men are manning a road block. A man comes with his family driving down the road on their way home. Keller speaks to a pretty girl and tries to warn her of the dangers of going back home. She won't be discouraged, so the major tells his men to let them go.
Kusz's driver tells the major that it's quiet here now, but only because the Bosnians, Serbs and Muslims have calmed down. And this fellow Skija is still up in the mountains. He is a bandit leader and steals from everybody. These bandits have been burning and raping. The lieutenant asks the corporal to stop the jeep because he has to take a leak. The corporal stops but he warns the lieutenant that a French UN soldier stopped to take a leak along the road and stepped on a land mine. The lieutenant decides to just get back into the jeep. Just then bullets hit the jeep. All three men dive under the jeep. The onslaught of firing is pretty vicious and it looks like the gas canisters could ignite at any time.
Keller and his men come to the rescue. They grab the three men from underneath the jeep and put them in the armored personnel carrier. Cichy, the driver, kills a number of the attackers. One of the men says about Cichy: "The guy went crazy. We came to bring peace, not to kill."
The major and lieutenant report to Major Keller, who says: "So, you will breathe down my neck for a month, major." Kusz says it will be only for one day, because as of March 1, he takes over command. The lieutenant says that after the scandal with the mercenaries, what could Keller expect? Major Keller warns the lieutenant: "Lieutenant, watch who you're talking to." The officer next to Keller says that they prevented the lynching of three men in Srebrenica.
Among the enlisted men under Keller the gossip starts. One fellow says that Keller has been recalled and his men are ordered to stay put at the base.
A Polish officer comes over to Houdini and asks him for the pornographic tapes he has. Houdini plays innocent, so the officer snatches him off his cot and looks into his small chest of metal drawers. The officer doesn't find anything, but he tells Houdini that one day he will get him.
The radioman hears a call of "Mayday! Mayday!" The fellow in a helicopter says that they've been hit by a missile and they can't get out. Keller tells the radio man to ask for a search and rescue. The source of the Mayday call is only 80 km from them. The radioman says: "On Skija's turf." That really worries the major. He sees the corpsman passing and shouts for him to get Ziarno and Biniek here on the double.
Major Kurz hears all the hubbub and wants to get outside to check what's going on. He goes over and sees Keller giving orders to the commanders of the coming search and rescue operation. He sends the NCO out to get some volunteers from his unit. The NCO asks for volunteers to rescue a chopper that went down in the mountains. Nobody is volunteering. So the NCO says that the Norwegian helicopter was carrying the guys from Team One, who are Polish. So now he gets some volunteers. Houdini is not going, so the NCO tells him he is going, period.
The major and the lieutenant say that Keller and his men and not supposed to leave the base. Keller tries explaining, but only hears objections. He tells the lieutenant to "fuck off". Permission is denied by HQ, but Keller's man, Ziarno, says the message is illegible and orders the radioman to re-issue their instructions. Kurz protests, but Keller is going anyway.
Kurz decides to go along on the mission and tells the lieutenant to come too. So off they go in a helicopter. When they get close, the helicopter stops and the soldiers repel down a rope onto a stream bank. Now the helicopter leaves. Keller calls the copter and tells them that they will be ready to leave in six hours. Cichy is chosen to lead the squad forward. They see some movement ahead, so Keller sends out the lieutenant and another man to check it out. It turns out to be a huge bear.
The patrol finds the helicopter. There are dead men outside and inside the helicopter. No survivors are found. Everyone is dead. Keller decides to follow the attackers. Theyget onto a road and Cichy finds two more dead bodies from the helicopter. The attackers did not go easy on the bodies and Keller figures it must be Skija. The Polish unit still has to find two of their men: Jaworski and Gwint.
Keller tells the main unit to stay in place while he and two others go see what's up front. They climb a big hill and find themselves overlooking the base camp of Skija. The bandits have seven hostages in all. At least, one of them is a young woman. And there's 20 bandits. Keller decides to wait for night to fall.
Two of the hostages are walked out into the forest. Keller sneaks up behind the guard and kills him with his knife. Keller tells the woman, Nicole, that there's no time for talk. They have to come with him now. The two follow him and they get back to the unit. The woman is French, from Paris, and she says she would like to get back to Paris.
Skija comes into camp by jeep. He sends some men out to get the newcomers.
The freed male hostage is Dano Ivanow of the press. Nicole is a journalist from French TV. He tells Major Kurz that all of their people died when the helicopter was shot down, but the Polish soldiers were killed by Skija's men. The contingent get back to the pick-up place, but as the helicopter gets closer it is hit by a missile. It explodes on impact with the ground. Now the bandits attack and quite a few Polish soldiers are wounded.
A soldier rushes to save the still standing straight up Nicole, but he is shot down. A lot of the Polish soldiers have never seen real action and they are super scared. Keller has to threaten to shoot one of them to get him moving. Others he has to yell at. Some of the really scared fellows object: "But they're shooting!" Keller has to yell at these guys some more. Houdini is really scared and he has no idea where his weapon is. Nicole is also extremely frightened and her counterpart, Ivanow, just ran away.
Major Kurz, the lieutenant and another soldier get behind part of the bandit crew. The major and the soldier demand that the lieutenant fire at three of the bandits while they kill the other two groupings of bandits. The lieutenant doesn't want to shoot three "innocent" men. The major and the soldier kill their assigned men, but the lieutenant refuses to fire. The other two men have to kill the remaining bandits. The unit now gets back together. Major Keller is disappointed in a lot of his men. He tells them: "Now you know what our job is. This is war, and you are are soldiers who must kill to survive or be killed."
One of the men, Johnny, rages at Keller that they are the peace unit! He tells the major he is a pacifist and therefore useless. He is crying now. The major points to the dead bodies and he says: "They're useless." He says to the complaining soldier: "You can do anything."
Keller now explains to everyone that they have to cross the enemy territory in two days. They move out. They walk down into a valley to a farmhouse. There they find the family that Keller allowed to return to their home. The soldiers station themselves in the barn. Keller pulls Nicole to her feet and he tells her because of her he lost one man and another of his men will soon be dead.
Major Kurz says he is taking over now because it's midnight March 1. Major Keller curses at him and stays in command. He tells Johnny and Houdini to go relieve the guards Cichy and Biniek. Kurz tells the two men not to go or he will have them court-martialed. Keller says that the French bitch knows what's going on here. There is a reason why the bandits so want to kill the entire unit plus the ex-hostages. Now Ivanow is brought in. Keller says that Ivanow knows the special reason too.
Keller is going to have the two ex-hostages interrogated until they talk. Keller asks Ivanow: "Why are you so important that the chopper was shot down and my people are being killed?" They find a tape on Ivanow and Nicole says it's video of an execution in one of the villages. Ivanow's chief, the Prime Minister, ordered it.
Kurz is still trying to take over, until, Cichy tells them that today is February 29, a leap year. Keller has 24 more hours of command.
Nicole tries to get the tape from Keller by saying she can do some good with it. No dice. Nicole gets frustrated in her attempt and she says she knows Keller doesn't like her anyway, because she saw how Keller looked at the peasant girl.
The peasant girl brings some food out to Keller. She kisses him. She says he's the first soldier that wasn't out just to rape and kill. He actually would give his life for hers and that's all she needs to know. Now they kiss passionately.
Ivanow tries to bribe the lieutenant with the talk of a reward of 100,000 marks. The lieutenant asks Johnny to tell Ivanow that he is a Polish officer and cannot be bribed. Johnny and Ivanow go outside to take a leak. Ivanow grabs Johnny's knife from out of its scabbard and stabs Johnny to death. Now Ivanow grabs Johnny's weapon and runs off. A wolf starts grabbing at Johnny's body. Keller fires a bullet close to the wolf and the wolf takes off. Everyone comes running out to see what happened. They are really furious with Ivanow and want to go after him, but Kelller tells them they have to move out.
The wounded soldier now dies. Major Keller is going to use the body to fool the bandits. The brother of the dead soldier and Cichy take the body up on a hill and throw it down onto the trail. The brother decides to stay behind. Cichy warns him it will mean his death. That doesn't deter the brother.
Ivanow is in cahoots with the bandits. He tells them the Poles are still in the village. So they go after the Poles to get the tape back. The brother of the dead soldier fires on them and hits quite a few of the bandits. His clips runs out and he is shot to death by a fellow with a scope on his weapon.
The Poles stop for a rests at a dilapidated barn. Keller tells Beniak to be the lookout. Beniak falls asleep. The major gets up to check on Beniak and finds him sleeping. He looks out and detects that's something's not right. He yells for Beniak to get up while he jumps back into the barn.
The bandits demand the tape back. Keller takes the tape out and meets up with the bandit who he hit with his helmet knocking him off the bridge. Keller gives him the tape, but before the guy leaves, he knocks out the major who goes down in a heap. When he awakens the bandits are all gone. Major Keller says they have gone to burn the village they just came from. Keller is going to go after the bandits. Kurz tells the soldiers to arrest Keller. None of the soldiers obey Kurz. They go with Keller while the other major, lieutenant and Nicole head toward the U.N. base.
The village is being burned and the people murdered. People barricade themselves in a barn but the barn is about to be burned down. The major arrives and kills one of the bandits. A bandit is about to shoot the major, but Cichy shoots the bandit. The soldiers open the barn door. Cichy kills three more of the bandits, but he is hit himself.
The bandit who got hit with the helmet faces off with Major Keller. Another bandit gets behind Major Keller, but Major Kurz comes up behind the second bandit and shoots him in the head. Now Kurz and Keller empty their pistols in the bandit who was hit by a helmet.
Major Keller stops by the peasant girl at the farm. Neither of them say anything and Keller marches on. Houdini comes in and balls out the major for calling him a coward. He says that his friend Max died and now his kids won't get the dog they wanted. He says maybe those that died, died for him too, so he could be a survivor. After all that, he finally gives Major Keller the tape. He salutes and starts to leave. Major Keller asks him then what tape did Houdini give the bandits?
Ivanow puts the tape in for the Prime Minister. They will watch it together. But it's a pornographic tape. The Prime Minister is not happy.
Major Keller now turns over the command to Major Kurz. On his way out he tells the cowardly lieutenant that he's all right. And on his way out is the French girl Nicole. He gives her the tape and walks away. Keller gets on a helicopter and then on a large transport plane. His companions are the caskets of dead Polish soldiers.
Good action film. There's not a lot of history in the film, however. It mostly deals with a Polish search and find mission to rescue Team One whose helicopter was shot down by the bandits. And then it's the story of the fight against the bandits. So it's virtually all action. There's a little bit of a love story but it doesn't amount to much. If you like war films with lots of action, this is a good film for you.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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