Watching a great film is so damn satisfying. Letting your mind go where the movie takes you, with little to no thought of your surroundings - is one of the great things about being a human being. Sometimes, it takes a little work to get into even the best of movies - and other times you're instantly hooked. Immediately immersed in whatever flickers across your screen. "Kommando 1944" is one such film. One that almost immediately made me forget where I was - for close to twenty minutes! Perhaps it was the content itself. I tend to eat up anything and everything related to the second world war. It's a guilty obsession of mine. One that served writer, director Derek Quick well - when considering the stars given within this review. The quick version? This is an excellent short film. Period.
Still here? Then let us go back a step shall we? I mentioned above, the niceties of being a human being. The ability to get lost in a world created by someone else. The ability to be self aware, to feel and to know right from wrong. It's not lost on me, how unusual it is to admit I'm a sucker for WWII media and literature. This was a dark time in history. A horrendous time. I think maybe I'm mystified - and curious as to how a small group of men, could turn an entire nation into animals. The average person knows good from evil and yet - that average person was convinced doing such evil things were good.
Murder, torture, racism... and every other "ism," was just fine and dandy for most German folk of the time. This is the root of my fascination with this morbid subject. This is also why I loved "Kommando 44" so much. It highlights these less than noble traits. It showcases fear and hate - even slightly delving into how and why such ideals could pass from person to person. But it also showcases that glimmer of hope. That small piece of goodness trying to make it's way out. I may be imagining some of the more subtle details of Derek Quick's film. Then again... maybe not.
The jist of this story? An Asian American soldier is captured and thrown into a Nazi work camp. Being Asian and all, he not only has the Nazi's to worry about, but also the American workers - who only see his skin color and label him a Jap. With a little help from the owner of the work farm, an opportunity presents itself for a potential escape. I should add that the timing couldn't be better. I'm not going to spoil the outcome. I'm not going to reveal the end game dynamics of the prisoners - but the ending was true to what has been described as life during those times. "Kommando 1944" is a great example of excellent film making. Both with regards to the plot itself and the finer details within. It's a scary story - but in today's world especially, one that hasn't lost it's relevance.
... and it all looks so good. Quick's film has nailed the visuals and sound. From the gritty feel straight through to the props and costuming. "Kommando 1944" will stack up against most of it's big budgeted counterparts. A lot of effort was clearly made, to make this film look so much bigger than it probably was. It's paid off. As I wrote at the start, most people will have no problem getting immersed in this movie. A good chunk of that is thanks to the production quality.
The other area this film shines - is with it's casting choices. "Kommando 1944" has a larger than normal cast, for an indie film, and it would take another full write-up to detail all the performers - and their portrayals. So let's just do it like this. Quick's film is excellently acted. From the scared and violent portrayals of the prisoners, to the arrogant evil of the captors. It's all here. "Kommando 1944" also manages to demonstrate the lack of empathy for life, by people who feel they are entitled and superior. There's also moments of wisdom and kindness sprinkled all through - all brought to life by some very talented people. I'm not left with much to complain about - except to say this is one of those rare cases, a longer film would have been great.
I can't even close this off by writing that this movie won't be for everyone. Because quite frankly, I believe most will get something out of it. It's history. It's man at their worst and best. More importantly? It's put together in a way that is entertaining. I really hate writing that, considering the content... but it's true. To Derek Quick and his troupe? Excellent job all around. Enough said.