Director: Uwe Boll
Starring: Billy Zane, Edward Furlong, Kristanna Loken, David O’Hara, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Sammy Sheik, Matt Frewer
What to expect: Uwe Boll turns his attention to the genocide in Darfur, hammering home his political message with as much subtlety as a machete buried deep in your skull: a story of brutal cruelty and touching, unexpected heroism, combined with Boll’s trademark revenge wish-fulfilment and shot in a gut-wrenchingly realistic style.
A group of Western journalists, including Billy Zane, Edward Furlong, Kristanna Loken and Matt Frewer accompany an African Union mission to deliver aid to a village in Darfur. On the way they stumble across a mass grave of skeletons, evidence of Janjaweed atrocities. Going into the village they meet the villagers, photographing and interviewing them as they go about their simple lives under the constant threat of being pillaged and murdered by the brutal Janjaweed thugs who are hell-bent on cleansing the country of black Africans. Boll spends quite some time letting us get to know the villagers, all of whom were played by real Darfurian refugees, many of whom had been brutalised, raped and had their families killed in real life. As such, the film has a powerful sense of realism from the outset and you can see that the reactions of the western cast are completely genuine as they interact with these poor people. Like all of Boll’s best movies, most of the dialogue is unscripted, further compounding the feeling that you are watching the events unfold for real. Just as the journalists and their escorts are leaving the village they catch sight of the dreaded Janjaweed, bloodthirsty, AK-47 totting devils on horseback, making their way there. After some discussion they decide to go back, hoping that the presence of the Western media will deter the scum from massacring the whole village. Unfortunately the plan doesn’t work and the despicable Janjaweed commander, brilliantly portrayed by Egyptian actor Sammy Sheik, gives them five minutes to leave, failing which they will be treated as part of the village and slaughtered along with everyone else. The journalists reluctantly (some more reluctantly than others) depart and the carnage ensues. But, shortly afterwards, some of the journalists decide to grab weapons and go back to try and help, leading to more violence.
I have to confess I tried to watch this one about a year ago and couldn’t get into it. The camera work is a little bit shaky for some tastes, to the point where it begins to get irritating at times. What’s more the subject matter doesn’t exactly make for an enjoyable move experience. However, I decided to give the film another chance this week and was so impressed that I felt compelled to watch it a second time the next day. It’s arguably Boll’s best film, right up there with the Rampage trilogy and Assault on Wall Street. The acting is spot on. The Darfurian cast are impeccable, as are the Western actors. Billy Zane is the big name here, but to be honest he takes a back seat most of the time, with Scotsman David O’Hara (The Departed, Braveheart) as one of the journalists who decides to go back, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, as the African Union army captain, and Sammy Sheik, who you’ll want to reach into the screen and fucking throttle to death, all shining in particular. Sexy as fuck Kristanna Loken is also great, to the point where you might even forget about Terminator 3. Speaking of Terminator, it’s good to see Edward Furlong here too, even though he’s in bad shape, there’s something so familiar about the guy that I’ll always root for the poor bastard, like a beloved childhood friend that went off the rails.
Attack on Darfur reminds me a lot of that scene in Rambo 4 where the Burmese army raids the Karen tribes people’s village, killing men, women and children indiscriminately. In Darfur, civilians are mown down, babies are thrown onto wooden spikes, women are raped and limbs are hacked off with machetes. It’s a film which plays on your emotions, but I think it’s fair to say it’s an accurate representation of the situation. There are some fucking scum in the world, Uwe Boll knows that only too well, and props to him for trying to bring it to the world’s attention. The film is shot guerilla style, even more so than some of Boll’s other movies and I was also reminded of Cannibal Holocaust at times. Some might argue that it’s exploitation, however, anyone who’s stopped to listen to anything he actually says knows that despite his gruff exterior, Boll has a heart of gold and his furious political message is entirely genuine.
In conclusion, this is probably Boll’s most powerful film. If you haven’t seen it yet I strongly urge you to give it a chance.
8 out of 10