Kajaki. The True Story (4 stars)

Kajaki. The True Story

Paul Katis turns a true-life tragedy into a moving, suspenseful drama

Taking its name from the Kajaki Dam in Afghanistan, this harrowing drama depicts a real-life incident that took place in 2006, when a group of British soldiers stumbled into an abandoned Afghani minefield by mistake, sustaining multiple casualties. It should be noted, at this point, that the film is being self-distributed in the UK, under an innovative deal that allows a substantial proportion of the profits to be split between four veterans charities.

Shooting with documentary-like accuracy (there is no score), director Paul Katis takes time to establish the easy camaraderie between the men, giving the audience a chance to acclimatise to both the constant military jargon and the range of, often quite thick, regional accents. Then, on a seemingly routine mission, one of the recruits steps on a landmine (an incident known as a 'mine-strike') and gets his leg blown off. When a medic goes to help him, he sets off another mine and is similarly injured, leaving the remaining men with the terrifying task of having to give medical assistance to their badly injured friends while trying not to get blown up themselves.

As well as capturing the reality of how the soldiers speak to each other (complete with good-natured piss-taking, even when injured), Katis doesn't hold back when it comes to either the goriness of the injuries (those with weak stomachs consider yourselves warned), or the blood-curdling, terrified screams of the injured men. With these elements adding to the unbearable tension of wondering when the next mine will explode, the experience is as powerfully disturbing as any recent horror movie. This is a suspenseful and deeply moving modern day war movie that marks Katis out as a talent to watch.

Selected release from Fri 28 Nov.

Official KAJAKI Trailer - in cinemas 28 November


  • 4 stars
  • 2014
  • UK
  • 1h 48min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Paul Katis
  • Written by: Tom Williams
  • Cast: Mark Stanley, Malachi Kirby, David Elliot

True-life story about a group of British soldiers who entered an abandoned Afghani minefield in 2006 and sustained multiple casualties. Shot documentary-style, it combines realism (soldiers engaging in good-natured piss-taking even when horribly injured) with unbearable tension. Suspenseful and deeply moving, but those…