Johnny Mad Dog Review

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A story of child soldiers caught up in a West African civil war.


Unflinching teen violence, an immediate style and a shocking depiction of Third World brutality... Think of this as City Of Dog (see what we did there?).

Johnny Mad Dog (Minie) is a child soldier bringing the pain in a long-running civil war; Laokole (Vandy) is trying to escape the carnage. Bad things happen. Adapted from Emmanuel Dongala’s novel, this is a fiction feature that feels a lot like fact.

Director Sauvaire brings his documentary background to bear and foregrounds atmosphere and incident over structure and story. The result is sometimes confusing, alienating even, but also troubling and authentic. Little wonder: though it’s set in an unnamed West African state, it was shot in Liberia, using real juvenile ‘veterans’ from that country’s last conflict.

Grubby and yet vital, it stays with you.