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Both of these films have been extensively reviewed by others as individual releases; their availability as a 2-disc pack make this quite a bargain and they make a natural pairing.

"The Winter War" ("Talvisota") made in 1989 and directed by Pekka Parikka, is here presented in its US release; running at 122 mins.(the Finnish original clocks in at 192 mins.) it has a brief introduction in American-English explaining the location and purpose of the conflict. Although edited, most of the lost material deals with the home front; this incarnation of the film is well-paced and grittily relentless once it gets underway. It hasn't been re-mastered to any extent so it shows its age a little. Some reviewers have been dismayed by this; it has some slight grain and a few minor blemishes here and there but I found it quite acceptable. Those of you with large-screen televisions may feel differently - the longer Finnish release has apparently been re-mastered, but costs considerably more than this.
Winter War is also notable for its attention to detail, with authentic looking Russian light tanks, artillery, aircraft and weapons.
The film is presented in 4 x 3 (1.66.1) letterbox format.

"Ambush 1941" ("Rukajärven tie" or "The Road to Rukajärvi" in English) was made in 1999 and directed by Olli Saarela; this film deals with an event during "The Continuation War" in which a bicycle platoon is sent to reconnoitre and flank the Russian front line.
This film has a minor love-story sub-plot which other reviewers have found irksome; I didn't find it all that intrusive, there are some brief flashback episodes as the young officer, Lt. Perkola ( Peter Franzén) daydreams, but it does little to interfere with the storyline. This is a markedly different film to Winter War in that it portrays an incursion deep into enemy held territory; the bicycle element is a different - and authentic - take on this kind of scenario. There has also been a fair amount of attention paid to detail in the military equipment. There are a few tense moments in the platoon's journey, but it gradually builds to the ambush referred to in the title.
Again, some reviewers have issues with the picture quality; again, I found it acceptable, this film does appear to have been re-mastered.
The film is presented in 16 x 9 Anamorphic widescreen and runs for 117 mins.

Both films are in Finnish language with English subtitles only; there are no extras with either disc.

I think this is a very reasonable package; both films - which, incidentally are based on novels by Antti Tuuri - make good additions to any war-film library and are fine examples of Nordic cinema. They are cheaper purchased as a set than as individual items and the set - at time of writing this - costs a fraction of most single-disc Hollywood fare, so they represent good value for your money.
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on 23 May 2011
An important piece of history graphically portrayed but was rather disappointed with the abrupt ending. Do they go home (those that are left!) ? Do they get blown up by abandoned ordnance? was there meant to be a sequel or did they just run out of money to finish it? (or do you 'Finnish' it in this country?)
My copy from Amazon was a poor duplication being very grainy and colours very weak (yes I know it's set in Winter but so was most of 'Dr Zhivago')and it felt like one of those dodgy copies from the man with the bag in the pub. I trust not all Finnish DVDs are going to be like this as next on my list is 'Ambush'
I cannot agree it is the first of the modern graphic war films as to my mind that accolade must go to the excellent & compelling 'Cross of Iron' (which also has an abrupt 'what happens next' ending as the studio reputedly ran out of money too). I still get a sense of wartime helplessness from the original 'All Quiet on the Western Front'and rate the French attack being literally mowed down by the German machine guns panning round and the simple detached hands hanging on the barbed wire as one of the most compelling & effective scenes ever - and this was filmed in 1930 in black & white with no gore (very Hitchcockian). The one that seems to overawe all the rest in epic length & non-stop realistic action & unlimited budget is the (as yet) unobtainable Russian patriotic colossus 'Osvobozhdenie'only viewable in bits on U-tube.
Back to 'The Winter War' to summarise : well made, acted and important to remember but let down by the ending & a poor quality actual product. Will appeal to historians rather than your average war movie-goer bred on Ryan.
regards from 'darlingbehomesoon'
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on 17 June 2017
This is a documentary telling the story about the Winter war between Finland and the Sovjet Union, told from the Finnish side. We also learn to know the personalities of some of the Finnish soldiers and their families. A strong story!
The Finns lost 1/5 of their country, and 500.000 people needed new homes. The Finnish government managed to relocate 450.000 inside their own borders. But what to do with the remaining 50.000? In desperation, the Finnish government asked the Swedish government if they could take them, and the Swedes answered: "Yes"!
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on 11 July 2013
Both these films are about specific aspects of World War 2, but with a twist. They are told from the Finnish point of view, a little explored area for us in the west.
Winter War shows how the Finns mobilised their population to fight a war against the Russian aggressor and how little equipment the Finns citizen army had at first.
Ambush 1941 shows the change in a young Finnish officer when his fiancé is reported killed and how it affects his attitudes and that of his section, where the boundaries between right and wrong become blurred.
Apparently both stories are based on real events and eye witness testimony. The only thing that might put some people off these films is that they are in Finnish with English subtitles - stick with it, they are worth the extra effort. These films prove that the money spinning films are made in America, but the best films are made in the rest of the world!!
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on 8 March 2011
This movie is based on actual events in the 40s when Russian forces attacked Finland. They were eventually beaten back by the sheer determination of the Fins but not after a lot of bloodshed, death and destruction. The movie may be slightly overlong but for me this can be forgiven as it does cover a lot of detail and action. The battle sequences are very realistic and harrowing, and much of the equipment, weapons, tanks and (CGId?) planes are accurate for the period as well. It all helps to make this a very realistic and powerful piece of work.

For other good movies based on the same subject try two Finnish ones called 'Ambush 1941' and 'Tali Ihantala 1944' and a Swedish one called 'Framom Framsta Linjen' (Behind Enemy Lines) about a Swedish speaking unit in that conflict.
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on 11 March 2014
I enjoyed this. It gave me information about the war between the Finns and the Russians that I hadn't known before. The acting is good and the characters are varied and have the flaws and virtues that make draw you in.
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on 6 July 2014
two very good war films I have just watched the new version of Stalingrad and it is total tripe compared to these films.no special effects here just pure realism and good acting.
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on 4 April 2013
I bought these two films having never watched them before but they turned out to be very good and action packed. The winter war has a far better storry and is overall better film i would recomend these films for those who like war film and are interested in the winter war conflict
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on 28 February 2014
Both films are very realistic in their battle scenes, the characters are good and played very well. I've lived in Scandinavia and the mannerisms and spirit of the people in the films are typical, the scenery is excellent. Well worth the money.
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on 1 February 2014
Am glad this has got subtitles as it drew my attention away from 'the action' which was diabolical to say the least. Save your money
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