Kandahar Break: Fortress of War (15)

Written and directed by David Whitney

IT is 1999. A pre-9/11 Afghanistan is ruled by a strict Taliban government.

Working for the government, to clear mines in the scorching deserts of southern Afghanistan, close to the town of Kandahar, is a small British team, led by Steve Delamore (Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes star Dean Andrews).

Kandahar Break opens with the arrival of Richard Lee (the excellent Shaun Dooley), who is returning to the country to join the team, fresh from aid work in Africa.

As his rickety old van makes its way through the barren rocky mountains, a tribesman takes a pot shot at the van with his rifle.

Lee is panicked but his driver just smiles, adding: “Welcome to Afghanistan, my friend.”

The British pair, both no-nonsense northerners, are joined by beautiful translator Jamilla, who Lee quickly, and inadvisably, falls for.

Because getting by in Kandahar, without offending the ultra-conservative regime, is a minefield in itself, Lee plans to escape across the border to Pakistan, with Jamilla in tow, but in his way is local police chief Ashiq Khan, who instigates a manhunt to kill the British infidel.

The film is dark and cynical. “They've been fighting in Afghanistan since Alexander the Great marched through here,” Delamore tells Lee. “It’ll never change.”

There are a couple of knowing nods towards 9/11 too — the World Trade Center disaster was two years later, in 2001.

Jamilla tells the team she was born in Afghanistan, before moving to the US for a number of years.

“New York’s not what it used to be,” Delamore says, “You’re better off here — it’s a lot safer.”

Kandahar Break is an intelligent, political thriller, beautifully shot too, but that is not to say it lacks action.

It is a tense and adrenaline-fuelled ride, and well worth a watch.

Kandahar Break is available on DVD from Tesco, Middlebrook, or online from Amazon.co.uk and kandaharbreak.co.uk