Kandahar Break: Fortress of War (2010) Review

Kandahar Break: Fortress of War (2010) Review

Written, directed and produced by David Whitney and starring Shaun Dooley, Dean Andrews, Rasheed Naz, Tatmain Ul Qulb, and Hameed Sheikh, Kandahar Break is set in 1999 in Southern Afghanistan where a team of British engineers are working for the Taliban Government to clear mines in the deserts.

When one of the engineers, Richard Lee (Dooley), falls in love with an Afghan interpreter Jamilah (Ul Qulb) it angers the local police chief Ashiq Khan (Naz). As the Taliban turn on Richard he is forced to escape Kandahar through the hostile terrain into nearby Pakistan. With the help of rebel guerrillas, Richard’s journey is one filled emotional minefields as he tries to reach safety.

Afghanistan as a place under Taliban rulers may no longer exist, but Kandahar Break attempts to take us back there with a story about love, loss and revenge. Rather than a film about war, it’s more about a man’s personal journey and what happens when he finds love in a place which forbids it. Tatmain Ul Qulb as Jamilah, the woman he falls in love with, is beautiful and captivating. Her time on screen though limited to flashbacks is enough to make her presence felt throughout. As a love story, I would have liked to have seen it from her perspective and to learn why she would risk everything for an affair with Richard.

As an outsider in Afghanistan, Richard has no idea about the rules, customs and the religion of the people there. As he makes no attempt to learn about any of these, he finds himself singled out as an infidel. When met with hostility he protests that he is English and pleads for them to speak English with him. I’ve come to know from several of my own travels that by learning even a few words of a country’s language, you are more likely to receive a warmer reception than by not doing so. Richard’s affair with Jamilah follows a similar pattern, and though we see why he would fall in love with her, I found it hard to see why she would reciprocate.

Kandahar Break in its attempt to highlight Afghanistan as a brutal place before British and American troops removed the Taliban leaders, feels more politically driven but in a very subtle way. While doing so, it also shows us something about the nature of the engineers who arrive there; arrogant, selfish and in the end not much better than Taliban. If its aim was to show us that, then it succeeds, but if Kandahar Break was meant to illustrate more than that, it falls short because of its lack of real insight into the lives of the Afghans and Pakistanis it portrays. A common flaw in western movies portraying eastern lives.

Static Mass Rating ★★★★★

Kandahar Break: Fortress of War will be in selected cinemas from September 10th 2010 and then released on DVD and Blu-ray from September 13th 2010 by Revolver Entertainment.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 94 minutes

Screenplay by David Whitney
Directed by David Whitney
Produced by David Whitney & Hameed Sheikh
Starring: Shaun Dooley, Dean Andrews, Rasheed Naz, Tatmain Ul Qulb, Hameed Sheikh

Official Movie Site

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