As VE day was celebrated all around the UK yesterday, I felt it right to end my evening by watching a war epic. Upon scrolling endlessly through the multiple streaming sites, I was reminded by this little known British war drama, Kajaki.
Directed by Paul Katis back in 2014, Kajaki tells the true story of a group of British paratroopers held up at the Kajaki Dam in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Whilst many war movie’s focus on the terrifying frontlines, demonstrating the horrors of war through the flurrying bullets and heavy artillery, Kajaki’s narrative is the focus of a minefield, which one of the soldiers happens to stumble upon on a routine patrol. This unit of paratroopers soon find themselves in a life or death disaster, with rescue and survival becoming more unlikely with each passing minute.
Debut director Paul Katis, uses a full cast of unknowns to create one of the most gripping, tragic and uncomfortable viewing experiences in some time. The lack of recognisable talent and hefty budget only adds to the alluring presence this film has had on me, even after a rewatch. Unfairly swept under the rug of an already saturated market of war movies, Kajaki is different in so many ways and deserves to earn a spot on anyone’s watchlist based on its social construct alone.
It’s a refreshing take on war and breaks far from the typical ‘American hero’ shtick that has become so apparent in today’s market. Despite its unusual focus, there’s still enough grit and danger behind its narrative, that it still manages to rival many pictures that touch on the difficult subject. Throughout its endless horror, it’s even willing to crack a multitude of jokes which is a welcoming treat, to break up the devastating tone.
Netflix has the power to put these little movies into the public eye, so use that opportunity to dive into something you otherwise wouldn’t even think to give a shot, because missing something as special as Kajaki could be a real shame.