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Film / 9th Company

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They stood together while their country fell apart.

9th Company (Russian: 9 Рота) is a 2005 Russian–Finnish–Ukrainian film directed by Fyodor Bondarchuk and set during the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. It is loosely based on the events of the Battle for Hill 3234.

The protagonists are a group of young recruits of the Soviet Airborne Troops, first arriving at boot camp in Soviet Central Asia and receiving combat training, until they are sent to the frontline where they are stationed in a remote base, surrounded with hostile locals. Soon, they find themselves ordered to hold a hilltop post at all cost, while the mujahideen decide to strike.

There were two video game adaptations, the Russia-only FPS The Truth about 9th Company and a RTS released on Steam in English language, 9th Company: Roots of Terror.

9th Company provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Everyone drinks quite a bit: Khokhol even predicts that once he goes back home, he's not going to do much else.
  • A Father to His Men: Both Dygalo and Khokhol use extreme measures to respectively train and keep their men alive, but in the same time they really care about their lives and well-being.
  • Accidental Aiming Skills: Gioconda is revealed to be a perfect marksman, while he never before handled a gun. His own theory? As an artist, he simply got keen eye.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: While the exact date isn't stated, the final battle takes place few days after a New Year. Orthodox Christmas are week after New Year.
  • Anyone Can Die: And they do by the dozen.
    • The movie starts with seven primary protagonists (with about dozen added along the way)... only one is still alive at the end.
  • BFG: Few NSV heavy machine guns are used. To elaborate - its tripod requires a dedicated carrier.
  • Band of Brothers: What the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits became half way through.
  • Berserk Button: Do and tell Vorobey what you want, but never take his letters or mock his girlfriend's loyality. He won't take that lightly.
  • Blind Without 'Em: The demolition expert. Gioconda uses this to pull a prank with piece of plastic explosives.
  • Booby Trap: Patephone left a live grenade under killed Afghan, instructing the rest of soldiers how its important to always do that.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted - everyone is reloading and running out of ammo constantly. After some time during final battle there is hardly any ammunition left.
  • Butt-Monkey: Pinochet.
  • Call-Back: After Vorobey scored his first kill, a grenade was left under the body of the Afghan he shot. During his own Heroic Sacrifice, he blows himself with a grenade.
  • Camp Follower: Snow White is a modern incarnation of this trope. She is a daughter of a local nurse, in a mutually satisfactory deal with a whole base of horny young soldiers.
  • The Charmer: Akhmet comes very close to smooth talking his way out of an encounter with Vorobey, until Akhmet slips, spooking Vorobey who then fires in reaction and kills him.
  • Conscription: The leading characters have been conscripted.
  • Corrupt Quartermaster: One handles to Chugun a PKM with a bent barrel and when the private starts to protest, he belittles him for questioning the "great honour of using the gun previously operated by the late Comrade Samylin, hero of the Red Army". The factory new gun Chugun should be given is presumably sold to the black market.
  • Darkest Hour: After a day-long battle, almost all named characters are dead. There is only a handful of soldiers left, surrounded by seemingly endless mass of Afghan fighters. Their highest ranking personel is Junior Sergeant. They are almost out of ammo and without any means of calling backup.
  • Dead Man's Trigger Finger: Chugun dies this way.
  • Determinator:
    • Dygalo was planting such attitude into his men. When one of them wets himself during stresfull assignment and the rest burst in laught, Dygalo berates them and points out that the mission was still fulfilled, which is more important than anything else.
    • Pinochet ended up with few bullets in his chest. His reaction? He strangled his attacker right before dying. With a smile.
  • Double Entendre: There is an entire onslaught of this trope in a scene when Gioconda pranks demolition expert by molding a piece of plastic explosives into a giant phallus. Officer fails to notice that at first (his glasses are off), and continues his lecture while holding it. From this point onward, soldiers are unable to keep their faces straight, because anything that demolition expert says takes a completely different (and lewd) meaning.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: The drill sergeant in basic training is this perfectly.
    • To a lesser degree, but the other instructors also seem rather intolerant to inattention or levity.
  • Elite Mook: The mentioned below Overt Operative.
  • End of an Age: While it's only hinted in-story, the film takes place in final years of Soviet Union (Perestroika is already in effect) and Cold War. The confusion between soldiers what is actually happening in politics is pretty accurate portrait of that time.
  • Fingore: Burning this time. Do not grab barrel of your machine gun after you just emptied all of its ammo.
  • Freudian Excuse: Chugun seems to have nobody who cares about him (nobody sees him off, nobody writes to him)... so he goes into overdrive picking on Vorobey whenever he's reminded that he has nobody and Vorobey has a loving girl waiting for him back home.
  • Friendly Sniper: Gioconda.
  • Good Luck Charm: One is given to the main characters by a soldier taking a flight back home. His plane is shot down almost immediately after take-off.
  • Gunship Rescue: The Hind gunships in the end, tearing Afghan fighters apart in slow-motion. They arrive right after Lyutyy is a last man standing from his unit.
  • Hope Spot: Cruelly punctuated, too. Pomidor sees the Russian helicopters coming to the rescue, and stands up, pointing them out jubilantly... just to get instantly shredded by bullets.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: See The Charmer entry. Somewhat justified when you consider they were tactical enemies in an active conflict anyway.
  • Ironic Nickname: "Snow White" is hardly a chaste young woman. Having sex with her before deployment is so common, it has become a rite of passage for the paratroopers. (For double irony, her white hair means she's actually got more of a snow look than the fairy tale character.)
  • I Shall Taunt You: An Afghan fighter starts shouting insults toward commander of garrison in broken Russian. While both sides find it amusing, after few laughts the Soviets promptly open fire. It's implied to be their local tradition.
  • Jerkass: Chugun certainly qualifies in the beginning of the movie. Especially towards Vorobey.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dygalo is an epitome of Drill Sergeant Nasty, but he doesn't allow bullying (at least when it's someone else than him bullying) and use all his strength to turn his antagonizing soldiers into a Band of Brothers. Being a Shell-Shocked Veteran adds its own weight, since he's fully aware what could happen to those boys in Afghanistan, so he hides all his feelings under a jaded facade.
  • Mad Artist: Gioconda is a curious example; he went to war, despite having an opportunity of getting a comfortable post at the staff, because he saw it as a form of art.
  • The Medic: Kurbashi.
  • Mildly Military: Hastly trained conscripts are sent from all over the Soviet Union to Afghanistan. Poor military conduct is almost guaranteed - everyone is getting constantly drunk and abuse of new conscripts by older ones is a norm. On the other hand, things like sleeping during watch are summarily punished.
  • More Dakka: Most of the time, it's Rule of Cool. During the final battle it's Rule of Drama.
  • The Nicknamer: One of the boys, he assigns all the nicknames to the rest.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Beware of Child Soldiers.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: That's what training said. Then in the end it's reveled that the whole unit was left forgotten on the hill, fighting a pointless battle.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: The English dub gives all the enlisted men American accents — California accents, and they all sound the same. All the officers have thick, subpar false Russian accents.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The convoy ambush. The Muj hit them hard, the Russians lost a lot of men and were in total disarray.
    • Just when one of the the battles starts, The Captain gets killed and ammo storage is blown up, taking radio station along with it.
    • Lyutyy, after realising he's the top-ranking soldier alive. He's a Junior Sergeantnote .
  • Overt Operative: Implied. The Afghan warriors are led/accompanied by a guy in sunglasses, rolled-up sleeves, and of suspiciously Western features, possibly one of the many foreign advisors that covertly helped the mujahideen during the war.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The hill and the road protagonists were supposed to guard lost its strategic value. Due to a bureaucratic mess, the orders never reach them. But since all units are removed from that area, the mujahideen launch an all-out assault. The final result is the death of everyone aside from a single soldier. All because an order didn't reach its destination.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Gioconda ends with one.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Obvious consequence of conscription. The whole first part of the story is about our misfits getting along during their training in boot camp.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Khokhol, resident Sergeant Rock, who swiftly balances between strict discipline and good morale by sole virtue of his veterancy.
  • Running Gag: Chugun is constantly trying - without any success - to fix his machine gun, which has a bent barrel.
  • Screaming Warrior: After both Chugun and Vorobey are killed, Lyutyy picks up nearest BFG and starts mowing down the Afghans, screaming at the top of his lungs. This is enough to get rest of the soldiers rally together and push a counter-attack.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The whole final battle. The hill lost its strategic value and the unit was ordered to retreat... only the orders didn't come in time and the unit was forgotten.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Doubling as Drill Sergeant Nasty, he's constantly trying to get the high command to send him back to "Afgan".
    • Lyutyy breaks down after he learns all his friends died literally for nothing.
  • Shoot Everything That Moves: The only conclusion of being surrounded by overwhelming force.
  • The Soviet Way
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Captain Bystrov is a living legend: much like any movie action hero. Unlike an action hero, he's suddenly killed by a machinegun burst in the middle of an ambush.
  • Taking You with Me: Vorobey is badly wounded. His only weapon? Grenades.
  • Teach Him Anger: Vorobey is a timid and shy guy, who always backs down. When he finally snaps under his training, whole unit is cheering during his fist fight.
  • Token Minority: Kurbashi, the only non-white soldier. His nationality is never exactly specified, but his actor Amadu Mamadakov, is a Mongol. Provided Kurbashi is from the Soviet Union, he could be Soviet Central Asian.
  • Unflinching Walk: The Afghans in the end. Having about twenty times bigger force than the Soviets may have something to do with that.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The actual Battle of Hill 3234 did not end with the deaths of the entire Soviet platoon. In reality, the Soviets took 6 losses while the mujahadeen lost 200 - 250 fighters. In addition, the film shows that the military chain of command forgot about the hill and they were left to fend for themselves. In the actual battle, they were in constant communication with headquarters and had artillery and air support.
    • These historical liberties so outraged some Russians that a video game called The Truth About 9th Company was made in 2008 that strove to depict the battle much more accurately.
  • Veteran Instructor: Dygalo served his time in Afganistan and due to his wounds is unsuitable for combat duty. But when he pushes his recruits hard, he does it to at least partially prepare them for all the nasty things, rather than out of malice. Later, when they are deployed, Khokhol plays this role, giving basic survival tips before they even leave the base.
  • War Is Glorious: Gioconda believes in a specific form of it. He lampshades that he doesn't expect others to get his point.
  • War Is Hell
  • Working-Class Hero: Lyutyy, an orphan who lived through all kind of crap in his life, serves this role. He's also the only character to survive from his outfit.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • How the intelligence officer views Afghan people, since they were never conquered in recorded history.
    • Patephone considered Akhmet one. Their insults exchanged seemed almost like old friends razzing each other, and Patephone solemnly bids Akhmet farewell when he sees his corpse.
    • On a meta-level, while the Afghan fighters aren't treated sympathetically, the film takes the effort to show that they are experts in guerrilla warfare who know how to take advantage of the landscape against an opponent with superior firepower.