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3.8 out of 5 stars153
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 29 July 2015
First up - if you're expecting a straightforward WW2 film along the lines of Fury or Saving Private Ryan or Enemy at the Gates, then forget it. This Russian film is and isn't about WW2 in much the same way that Moby Dick is and isn't about a whale. Ostensibly it's set in the dying days of the war on the eastern front. The "Ishmael" character is a horribly-burned Russian tank-man who somehow survives (or is re-born - or maybe he never existed at all), albeit with no memory of anything except that he can talk to the souls of tanks, and that it is his destiny to seek out and destroy the mysterious White Tiger which appears ghostlike on battlefields and destroys Russian tanks by the dozen. No crew of this tank is ever seen - indeed if you consider it a cross between the white whale and the homicidal tanker from Spielberg's Duel, you're pretty much up to the mark.

There are a couple of splendid action scenes (with overtones of surreality) which WW2 buffs will enjoy. There's a posse of T-34/85s and a clutch of SU-152s; and if they were done with CGI I certainly couldn't see the join. The Tiger is, all things considered, not a bad mock-up, except that its turret seems to be set too far forward on its chassis. A friend (who is a TRUE nerd when it comes to such matters) tells me that this echoes an early prototype, exactly one of which saw action; but I saw it as a sort of deliberately ambiguous detail. Russian tanks tended to have turrets set further forward than British, American or German ones, so perhaps this is a hint about the White Tiger only really existing in the imaginations of the Russians?

Perhaps I'm over-thinking this, but it would be in keeping with the mystic elements of the last third of the film. This concerns the signing of the document of surrender by three German generals, who then enjoy a rather odd meal. Cut to a long stream of German PoWs marching through the streets of (presumably) war-blasted Berlin. I was particularly taken by the shot of the old woman in a shabby coat that had once been expensive, sitting on a chair in front of a ruined house, watching them go by. Then cut to "Ishmael" alone in a field with his tank. The White Tiger isn't finished, he says, it's just gone into hiding. It'll be back in a hundred years or so.

Then the final scene. Is it real? Is it symbolic? It is happening in someone's head? Who knows?

Which, I contend, is the whole point. This is a cerebral film, loaded with ambiguities. It asks many questions, but doesn't provide easy answers - or any answers at all, possibly. It is not a film that rewards "lazy" viewing. If watched with a switched-on mind, however, it does make you think; in a way that all too few films do these days. I know I won't get it out of my head for a long time.
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This is a film from the book by Ilya Boyashov called `Ili belyy Tigr' and is homage to Herman Melville's `Moby Dick'. This is about a tank driver whose whole tank squadron get taken out by a single Tiger tank. He is the sole survivor and yet has 90% burns, which should mean agonising death. But no, he makes a `miraculous' recovery. Except he has been slightly scarred and has lost his memory, Ahab only lost a leg and part of his mind.

Anyway the powers that be decide not only to return him to active duty, but to give him the mission to track down and `kill the white whale', I mean tank. To help in this he gets a special T34/85 prototype that is cunningly disguised as an ordinary T34/85. He gets the best crew in all of the USSR which includes an alcoholic gunner and is sent off to do battle with the mysterious white, ghost, tank. He also claims to be able to talk to tanks and pray to the `tank god', which has to be a boon in any tank based misunderstanding.

So is it any good? Well I actually quite enjoyed it, they use real tanks I could not see any CGI, but am sure some must have been used - the filming is that good. The tank battles of which there are only two, by the way, are all ruddy excellent and the first half of the film is absolutely tense and has an attraction all of its own. Possibly down to the good acting from a brilliantly ordinary looking cast. No one here could be accused of matinee idol good looks, which I am always pleased with. The sub titles are good; this is in Russian and a bit of German. The second half though gets a bit bogged down and we have some soul searching and all that and the film jumps ahead a tad without seeming to be very well sign posted.

That said this is still a very good film for tank enthusiasts and the whole ghost tank thing was done really well, but I think a nod of appreciation to Mr Melville would not have hurt and no one is called Ishmael, which I think must be a school boy error. Oh and the ending is not as good as the whale based version either - sorry.
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on 1 May 2013
Set on the Eastern Front in WWII, 'White Tiger' is a big-budget Russian film that impresses on almost all counts.
It's essentially a duel film, like 'Enemy at the Gates', with plenty of misty forest atmosphere, suspense and some brilliantly played out tank battles.
Parts are slightly surreal, as in 'Cross of Iron', and one part is a bit slow.
There's excellent attention to detail and relatively little CGI -- everything looks just right. Even the upgraded Tiger itself is believable.
The massed attack by T34s is amazing.
This film is superbly acted too.
If I could, I would give White Tiger four and a half stars out of five.
Well worth watching.
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on 13 April 2013
A scenario like that in movies is a very rare encounter. Usually we see a scenario like that unfold in modern films, where soldiers use superior weapon technology's to battle elusive enemy's or terrorist's. Our protagonist Russian tank soldier N.
happens to be "stalked", having lost his T-34/85 Battle-tank crew twice. Having survived severe burns, barely healed, is obsessed to destroy this "mysterious" Tiger Tank, who seems to come from nowhere, destroying numbers of Soviet tanks in any given engagement. And now in the last few days of the war, May 1945, somewhere in Austria or Hungaria, it is happening again and again...
The new Russian Cinema seems to produce many such films, this one stands out, with a fresh angle and from perspectives viewers are not used to. There are no known formulas being used. The viewer should stay alert, there are some sub-plots and twisty turns, that you see not coming. A gritty story, unfolding at tranquil sunny springtime. The Director did not use dark filters
to enhance "the war experience" but played with the feeling "I don't want to die in the last few days of the war". It works.
Somehow you feel drawn in, and learn what a Trauma might feel, or how it is negotiated. If a soldier ever can come to terms with it. The end is not predictable and will stick with you, not for the faint of heart mind you
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on 30 May 2013
Have I just seen the same film as some of the negative reviews on here? Some are saying this should of been settled on the battlefield, you do know that wasn't an ordinary Tiger no?

It seems such a long time there was a decent war film and this surpasses easily all those biased hollywood efforts where everyone speaks with the same yankie accent drone. Even though I speak no Russian it was great hearing those accents and the German one as well, the subtitles does not take away anything from the film. It would have been great to see larger tank battles but even so the story had a huge twist and had me gripped as soon as they pulled the burnt Russian from his Tank.

Seeing the bodies by the Tanks brought home some of the devastation of war and if some of the details of the tanks were slightly off, so what. Hollywood does far , far worse. As for the twist at the end I thought how refreshing to have such a dark twist than the usual moralistic pap from hollywood.

I'm a big fan of the old British war films where people speak in accents albeit all English and also of foreign films more and more. I'd like to see more non American-English war films.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 October 2013
This Russian war film (or is it really a war film?) made in 2012 is a strange thing, very hard to understand, classify and rate. Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS.

The film begins, I think, soon after the gigantic battle of Kursk, in autumn 1943, somewhere in Ukraine or Belarus. In this time Red Army, after defeating the last major German offensive on the Eastern Front, was slowly but relentlessly advancing west - but the price paid for every mile of advance was high. We can see it very clearly in the first scene of the film, in which Soviet soldiers recover weapons from their fallen comrades and prepare their bodies for the burial. But then surprise - one of the supposedly dead soldiers, found inside a destroyed T-34 tank and therefore terribly burned, has still a little bit of life left in him...

To considerable surprise of all doctors and nurses in the field hospital, this man survives and in fact recovers very well - but he remembers almost nothing, not even his name. The one thing he somehow remembers is how to operate a T-34 tank. Renamed "Naydenov", which means "one who was found", he returns to service and quickly earns quite a reputation amongst even the most battle hardened Soviet tankists. Because of his skill, he is chosen for a special mission - operating a specially modified, heavily "upgraded" T-34-85 tank and commanding a specially selected crew, he is to track, ambush and destroy a very special and unique German tank, the terrifying "Belyi Tigr" (White Tiger).

The White Tiger seems to be itself a modified, extensively upgraded version of German heavy Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger tank which its crew (which we NEVER see by the way), for reasons unknown, kept painted all white, even once the winter 1943/44 is over... But Sergeant Naydenov soon finds out, that there are also many, many other things that make the White Tiger an absolutely unique and totally deadly opponent... All above takes care of like first ten minutes of the film and then the story really begins and the rest is for you to discover.

Not willing to provide more spoilers I will just say that I found this film very strange but ultimately rather good for the first 75 minutes. However, the last third of "White Tiger" suddenly goes in a completely different direction than all what precedes and from that moment on it just gets weirder and weirder. I almost had the impression that this last part was taken from another film... The ending - well, I am not certain what to think of it. I personally understood the ending as the moment when two of the main protagonists of World War II meet in hell for a little, not so friendly chat - but this scene is so strange, that I can absolutely not be certain if it was what the director wanted to say... In fact, even in its first part this film certainly forces the viewer to think a lot - and scratch his head a lot - trying to figure out what the heck is going on here and what it all means.

Even if it is definitely not a historical war film, "White Tiger" certainly offers a real treat for all military history freaks, especially those (like me) who are interested in weaponry. There is a great lot of finest military porn here, beginning with T-34 tanks - LOTS of them - and Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf H tanks. Other tanks appear as wrecks: Matilda II, BT-7, Panzer III Ausf H and one Sdkfz 251 half-track (and it actually matters for the plot that they are wrecks). We also can admire ISU-152 heavy assault guns and SU-100 tank destroyers - although surprisingly they are used here as field artillery... Then there is one scene with a lot of ZiS-3 light field guns and we can see also a German PAK40 75 mm anti-tank gun, Soviet PTRD41 anti-tank rifles, Maxim PM1910 heavy machine guns, Degtyaryov DP light machine guns, SVT-40 semi-automatic rifles, etc. However, there is only ONE Tiger tank in the whole film, the White Tiger, which is not exactly your average typical Panzerkampfwagen VI...

The tank fighting scenes are not bad at all, although the tendency of all the tanks (on both sides) to immediately explode after they are hit was probably an exaggeration...

I was really of two minds after watching this film. On one hand, I confess, I didn't understand it - even if of course I got the general Moby Dick'ian allusion. However, ultimately I do not regret that I watched it. It has quite a unique atmosphere and a kind of deep, slightly scary secret hidden somewhere, all of it wrapped in uncertainty and served with music by Richard Wagner, skilfully interpreted to add some menace but also more mystery... I can not really say that it is a good film - but on another hand you certainly don't see this kind of thing everyday...

Bottom line, I think that the best thing is that you see this film by yourself and make up your own mind about it. I rate it three stars, because this rating is exactly like this film - somehow unclear, vague and equivoque...
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on 13 November 2015
very unusual war drama about a Russian tank commander who mysteriously survives horrific burning, to fully recover and develop a 6th sense that lets him talk to and listen to ... tanks; to their souls, their fears, their voice. The phantom Tiger tank is not the one on the cover of the regular dvd, it's not the Tiger II but the more well-known Tiger I (or at least a pretty good mock-up of it) and it's not Spring 1945, more like a film over the last 2 years of the 2nd world war. It's a refreshing twist on war tales. The hunted become the hunters of an invincible ghost Tiger. There are creepy echoes of war films like Michael Mann's terrific Transylvanian SS vs. ghoul, cult masterpiece, "The Keep", but this film is also faithful to fact, in its own way, and quite a brutal look at the failure of the tank as a weapon of war that can offer any kind of security to those inside - except if you are a tank-charmer, as is this unlikely hero. Well worth it, even though some parts of the film seem added on for no reason, like the ending, in Berlin, with Russian chef-soldiers serving the surrendering German top brass frozen strawberries and cream.
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on 10 January 2015
OK... This is a strange movie... If you are looking for a Hollywood
ending... this is not for you...

This is all metaphor. The White Tiger, is, Moby Dick... And the
Commander is Captain Ahram... well, that's how I read it...

An amazing film... realistic action, with a surreal story... and a
strange ending... that leaves you thinking...

If you like interesting cinema, get this movie...
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on 14 September 2015
This is only a 5 star film if youre hammered on LSD.
I was really enjoying it up until the last 10 odd minutes and then its like the director couldnt be bothered with it and youre left thinking "eh?"
Its a shame because it was really good up until then but then then youre left wondering why you bothered.
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on 17 March 2015
Plenty of WW2 kit for those that are interested but the film is odd. I've scoured the reviews and no one else has mentioned this but I felt the final Hitler scene had an agenda. Up until that point I kept expecting a resolution to the duel but there was none.
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