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Film / AK-47

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AK-47 (Russian title: Kalashnikov | RU:Калашников) is a 2020 Russian biographical movie about one Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (Yuri Borisov) that begins during his service in the Red Army in WWII and chronicling his eventual engineering journey towards inventing the future of automatic firearms as well as Russia's all-time greatest export: The Avtomat Kalashnikova assault rifle.

In 1941, Red Army tanker, Sergeant Major Mikhail Kalashnikov is wounded-in-action and is then sent back home to recuperate. On his journey back, he is inspired by his experiences on the front lines as well as constant complaints from his fellow soldiers about the sorry state of their issued weapons. Stopping by his old worksite at the Matay locomotive plant, he pours his heart and soul into building a reliable gun worthy of the Red Army. After a rocky start, he soon enters the professional world of military firearms development where he will eventually rise to the challenge of finding his place amongst legendary Soviet gunsmiths, as well as discovering love and purpose in his personal life.


The film contains examples of:

  • Action Prologue: The film begins with tank commander Mikhail Kalashnikov fighting on the Eastern Front during WWII.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Many of the Red Army soldiers returning from the front are seen with various missing limbs. The soldier Kalashnikov first speaks to on the train home has no arms at all while another soldier at Matay Station has nothing below his pelvis and practically seated on a plank with roller wheels while moving around with his arms.
  • Babies Ever After: Right after his successful assault rifle trials, Ekaterina tells him that she's pregnant. They go home to the Kalashnikov farm with his new daughter in his arms.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Halfway, the film tries to present the development of a upcoming heated rivalry between the upstart Kalashnikov and seasoned legendary gun designer, Vasily Degtyarev. Ultimately nothing comes out of it. When the two finally meet face to face, it is Degtyarev who ultimately concedes that his design is inferior to that of Kalashnikov's and graciously pulls out of the assault rifle trials. Their relationship is one of mutual respect and is quite cordial in fact.
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  • Battle in the Rain: Mikhail and NKVD Captain Lobov have a brief Gun Struggle in a rainy forest when the latter accuses Kalashnikov of treason against the Soviet State.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Sahakyants only has this to say to Kalashnikov about his jammed submachine gun while lying on the floor with a bullet wound in his chest.
    "The automatic did not pass the test."
  • Convenient Misfire: During Kalashnikov's time on the Eastern Front, he witnessed an officer's PPSh-41 submachine gun jam in front of a hostile group of German soldiers. This event shifts Kalashnikov's mindset in creating more reliable weapons that won't jam in any random circumstance. The wounded officer even lampshades the sheer timing of the jam to Kalashnikov later.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After years of work and many rejections of his previous prototypes, Kalashnikov's AK rifle is finally adopted by the Soviet Army and his achievement results in him gaining a full-time job in weapons research in the Soviet Union. He also finally earns his right to visit his home with his wife after almost a decade abroad due to his work.
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: When news of Germany's surrender reaches the Degtyarev weapons plant, many soldiers and engineers celebrate with cheers, singing, dancing and the obligatory discharge of Soviet-made firearms into the air.
  • Friendly Rival: Sudaev and Kalashnikov makes friendly wagers against each other's creations during the various weapon trials.
  • Gun Porn: The movie is about Kalashnikov and his creations. Not only is there detailed shots of various weapon blueprints, other famous Soviet firearms such as Sudaev's PPS-43, Degtyarev's machine guns and many other prototype firearms also make appearances.
  • Heroic BSoD: Mikhail Kalashnikov experiences his first real setback when his PPK-42 submachine gun loses the firearms competition against Alexey Ivanovich Sudaev's PPS-43. Afterwards when he percieves his usefulness as a weapons designer coming to an grinding halt, he tries to get himself transferred back to the front but is ultimately unsuccessful. He snaps out of it thanks to a small pep talk by Ekaterina and eventually Sudaev himself, who encourages Mikhail to continue working on guns as he genuinely believes in his potential.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Despite his blase confidence at entering the gunsmithing world of Soviet arms procurement, he is still visibly in awe and humbled in the presence of Russian gunsmith masters such as Vasily Degtyarev, Sudaev and more.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The film starts with a young Kalashnikov in his home village keeping his tools before playing with the kids around the village. Fast forward to World War II......
  • Momma's Boy: Throughout the film, Kalashnikov constantly narrates letters to his mother, usually to update her on his progress in his work and personal life as well as apologising to her about not being able to vist due to the long distances.
  • Mood Whiplash: During the annoucement of Germany's surrender, many people including Kalshnikov are seen genuinely celebrating the end of the Great Patriotic War. The scene then cuts to a very mournful Mikhail at his bunk pondering at the future of his work.
  • No Antagonist: Aside from the one paranoid NKVD officer, there is no designated villain or competitor out to screw Kalashnikov and his inventions in any way; the film is a somewhat straightforward story about him overcoming rejection and his Determinator attitude in making a good rifle for his country.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Kalashnikov is portrayed as being completely driven by his desire to build a automatic weapon that would benefit the Soviet Union and his fellow comrades in the Army.
  • Ramming Always Works: During the opening battle, a German anti-tank gun incapacitates most of the crew in Mikhail's T-34 tank. With the survivors too wounded to reload the tank, Seargent Major Kalashnikov orders his driver to floor it towards the gun, completely crushing it underneath it's tracks.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: Early-war Soviet weapons are shown jamming at inopportune moments and soldiers are always overheard complaining about defective or poorly-built guns they had to contend with. Kalashnikov would later put reliabilty and simplicity at the forefront of his design principles for later weapons trials to avoid the trope.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Invoked. When Mikhail's old boss at the Matay locomotive factory refuses to lease a workbench for Kalashnikov to work on his submachinegun, Mikhail seizes an opportunity to appeal to a visiting Red Army Colonel Basarov inspecting the site about needing workspace to build guns for an upcoming weapons trial. His pitch goes surprisingly well and as a result, the Colonel gives a written request to the now-infuriated boss about leasing a space for Mikhail to work with.
  • State Sec: Mikhail has a brief run-in with an NKVD captain following the arrest of one of his brothers for anti-communist sentiments.
  • Soldiers at the Rear: Despite his injury and reassignment to weapons development, Kalashnikov refuses to see himself as one, as exemplified in his Heroic BSoD moment where he tries to convince the local medical officer that he is fit to rejoin the frontlines despite his lingering condition.
  • Tank Goodness: Sgt. Kalashnikov is introduced as a tank commander of a Russian T-34-76 fighting on the Eastern Front.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • When Mikhail tries to present his prototype PPK sub machinegun directly to Colonel Basarov's office with no official appointment and carrying an unregistered firearm underneath his coat, he is promptly arrested by the alarmed military police and his prototype confiscated. Only the curiosity of another weapons procurement officer Major Lebedev and the subsequent good appraisal of Kalashnikov's sub machinegun opens up an avenue for Mikhail to properly explain himself and talk his way out of trouble.
    • While Mikhail has has shown skill in designing and manufacturing guns, his lack of engineering degree means he doesn't possess the drawing and technical skill of properly documenting detailed and professional schematics for his inventions. The war department has to assign a properly-educated technician to help him out.
    • Despite two years recuperating behind friendly lines, Mikhail's old wounds still prevent him from being medically fit enough to rejoin active duty when he applies for a transfer to the front lines in a moment of despair.
    • Mikhail despairs about his weapon design being shuttered down due to the end of the war, but the very next day he is told by an officer that the assault rifle trials will still continue. Just because one war is over doesn't mean the military isn't interested in getting a technological edge over their future enemies, especially with the looming Cold War ahead.
  • Taught by Experience: Unlike most of his weapon designer comrades, Kalashnikov reveals to many an astonished colleague that he had never had any formal engineering education before the war. Yet despite being self-taught and his mostly manual hand-tooling methods, he is still able to produce high quality and more importantly, functioning and reliable firearms just from his sheer passion in engineering.