Sly and the projected "Rambo: First Blood Part III" won't be alone using the Afghanistan-Russian conflict as dramatic background. In fact, scheduled for a September shoot, Stallone's much-delayed sequel is lagging behind the pack.
The first film to deal forcefully with the war is "The Beast." Now in post-production at A&M Films on a $7 million to $10-million budget, it's due in February from distributor Columbia. It's a drama set during the Soviet invasion in which a group of freedom fighters stalks a Soviet tank crew that has blown up their village. It stars Steven Bauer (as an Afghan), Jason Patric (as a young Soviet) and George Dzunda (a Soviet tank commander). Kevin Reynolds ("Fandango") directs from a script by William Mastrosimone ("Extremities"), based on his play.
Also being developed:
"Nobody's War," to begin shooting in Morocco in mid-August for Chariot Ent. Group. Czech exile Douchan Gersi (who filmed Afghan war footage for PBS' "Explorer" series) directs, based on the real-life exploits of Perry Morgan, an American-born, British-educated actor (who's worked primarily on the English stage) whose passion for the Afghan cause brought him to that country in 1981. According to Morgan, who scripted and will co-produce, the $6-million project (no distributor set yet) will encompass high adventure, political intrigue and "one man's romantic dream of freeing a country." Morgan, 37, will portray a central role--that of a British journalist ("There are pieces of me in the character"). Among the co-stars will be someone who knows about high adventure and political intrigue--G. Gordon Liddy, playing a former CIA agent involved with a radical right-wing American organization.
"In Honor Bound," based on the novel by Gerald Seymour (who's also done a screenplay draft), involves a British intelligence officer, an American soldier of fortune and a Russ helicopter pilot in Afghanistan. There's also a love story involving an English woman. Hemdale hopes to shoot next spring in Morocco, Spain and Israel on a budget of about $15 million, with Carter de Haven producing.
"Caught in the Crossfire," based on the nonfiction book by Ladies Home Journal exec editor Jan Goodman, is being developed by producer Howard W. Koch Jr. for De Laurentiis Ent. Group. "Ours is the only one of these films with a heroine," explained Koch. "Our story will take her through a transformation, from a satin-and-lace type to a freedom fighter." A director and screenwriter have yet to be announced.
"Lie Down With Lions," a romantic triangle set in Afghanistan, involving a CIA agent (who happens to be a Vietnam vet), a left-wing French physician (who seeks to avenge the death of his father) and an Englishwoman, will be scripted by Ken Follett, based on his recent novel. Producer Geoff Reeve puts the budget at $10 million.
"Goodbye, Kamal" (tentative title), about an American father who journeys to Afghanistan in search of his kidnaped daughter, is currently in development for HBO Pictures. "It could be green-lighted and given a production start date by year's end," said an HBO rep.
An untitled drama is being written by writer Robert Kamen (who wrote "Taps" and "Karate Kid") for Columbia, to be produced by him and Mark Johnson about Soviets taking children forcibly from Afghanistan, schooling them in Russia, then returning them to Afghan society "as good little Communists." Kamen promises "an uplifting ending."