Directed by Asif Kapadia. UK. 2001.

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A couple of years ago I saw Asif Kapadiaís graduation film The Sheep Thief in the ICA. A  beautifully shot short film, made with great care and attention for detail. Now director Asif  Kapadia (29) makes his strong debut with his feature The Warrior shot in the Rajasthan desert in North West India, under difficult circumstances. Itís a magic realistic epic made with a French producer(Bertrand Faivre), an English co-writer(Tim Miller), a half German-Nigerian DOP (Roman Osin) and an Italian composer( Dario Marianelli).

The Warrior. All Rights Reserved.The film is a very visual spectacle which tells the story in a very focused and confident way. Film references for Kapadia include movies by Sergio Leone, Mizoguchi and Zhang Yimou. Very influential was also the Vietnamese film Cyclo by Tran Anh Hung.

The story is about Lafcadia, a veteran warrior, played by the charismatic Indian actor Irfan Khan, who is ordered by his Chieftain to destroy a village, because it hasnít delivered itís crops. During the killing and burning of the village, he encounters a young girl wearing a medallion belonging to his own son Katiba. This is a decisive moment in Lafcadiaís life, then and there he decides to give up his violent life. He radically changes in to a searcher for inner peace. On his journey to achieve this, he meets Riaz, a thief who has escaped from a labour camp. Riaz is played by Noor Mani, a street boy from New Delhi. He travels along with Lafcadia; on their journey they encounter a blind old woman , who is looking for a sacred lake in the mountains. 

The Warrior. All Rights Reserved.Big parts of the film are told with hardly any dialogue, Lafcadia conveys much of his emotions with intense looks and simple gestures.

You donít get to know much about the motives of his behaviour, but this is not a psychological drama. For those grand style Panavision epics different criteria count, but at the same time it makes it harder for the viewer to empathy with the characters.

The shooting circumstances were extremely harsh. Kapadia said: ďTemperatures were sometimes 47 degrees, too hot to think. People were dropping in the heat, scorpions were wandering around the set and somebody got bitten by a rabid dog.Ē

Itís interesting to wonder which direction Asif Kapadiaís career will go from here, but whatever path he will follow, more cinematically epics like The Warrior or more small scale intimate films like The Sheep Thief, he will be definitely a new young filmmaker to watch.

Jaap Mees

The Warrior is released by Film Four/ VCI on DVD (r.r.p. £19.99) on 16 September 2002, Certificate 12 (TBC)
DVD Extras: Directorís Commentary, Making Of documentary, Cast and Crew Interviews, Deleted Scenes, On Location, Feature and Theatrical Trailer.
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