Directed by: Paul Katis
Starring: Mark Stanley, Malachi Kirby & David Elliot
Afghanistan 2006. A company of British soldiers are holding an observation area and walk into the dried up Kajaki Dam. Suddenly a mine explodes, seriously maiming one soldier and as his colleagues move to assist with medical aid, they discover that there wasn’t jut one, but many more….
Kajaki is a different kind of war film; it isn’t an “all guns blazing” action movie, but a highly-detailed, tense movie that feels more like a documentary than a drama. The cast features mostly unknown actors with the exception of Tug (one of the medics) who is portrayed by Mark Stanley from Game of Thrones.
This is a strength and a weakness as the audience is not distracted by an A-Lister caught up in the danger. It is also sadly a little bit of a weakness as some of the general public might pass this by due to no recognisable faces.
The script is detailed and continuously spurts out technical military jargon punctuated by slagging and banter that proves that, even when things are really black, there is still humour. The language used by the squaddies is highly colourful to say the least, but realistic.
Also realistic is the make-up used for the numerous injuries the group sustain during the course of the movie; viewers should note that those who are of a more sensitive nature may find these scenes disturbing as you are constantly observing several injured soldiers with missing limbs, complete with lots of blood, shredded tissue, veins, arteries etc.
As realistic and accurate as Kajaki is, there are times during the later part of the movie where it feels that the nightmare just doesn’t seem to end – arguably the point. The soldiers’ plight seems never ending and there are several instances where no sound is heard but the agonising screams for morphine. It is during these periods that it can be a little difficult to watch which is a credit to the cast, crew and first time film Director Paul Katis. It does however become a little boring as there are only so many times you can look at bloody limbs and listen to the screams.
Kajaki is a well-made, low budget true story British war film that pulls no punches in its delivery. The incident the film is based upon may not be well known to the audience, but it will certainly leave its mark on the genre.
4 out of 5 Nerds
I would like to add a quick note in that the screening I attended was in aid of various charities including Help for Heroes and The British Legion, whose members and patrons have been directly affected by various conflicts that they and their comrades have taken part in over the decades and who should be commended for their actions, bravery and sacrifice.