A FIGHTING SEASON | REVIEW

A FIGHTING SEASON is an independent and unique war move that has been doing the festival rounds for about two years now. Some of the notable festivals it has screen at include War on Film, 29 Palms Military Film Festival and the Byron Bay International Film Festival. Now that the festival touring is over it is available on VOD – you can rent and view it from HERE.  Best wishes to Kernel Jordan who has been quite ill and stuck at home. Thoughts from all the Kernels to a speedy recovery. Part of his recovery is watching a lot of movies and A FIGHTING SEASON is one he jumped on board to review. A FIGHTING SEASON is rated what I would consider an M equivalent for Australia and runs for 82mins – enjoy Jordan’s thoughts…….all the best……JK.

BY

A FIGHTING SEASON stands out from the many war films that are made each year as it focuses its lens firmly on U.S. soil. It begins in an intriguing and possibly intentionally deceptive way; we first hear conflicting news snippets from various news reports, including speeches made by President Obama. The film is based in 2006, a time when the war in the Middle East was becoming an increasingly unpopular concept. This combination of time and especially location leaves us with a finished product that isn’t exactly what you would expect from a film about the modern era of war, especially as it never leaves the safety of home.

 

A Fighting Season Movie image

 

JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS

After the short introduction, we quickly meet Mason, looking depressed with a hue of red lighting his face. This leads us to a flashback of Mason’s tour in the Middle East. A technique that is thankfully used sparingly. Despite its brevity it highlights some key character traits as we see Mason dealing with a group of Muslim POWs.

Following this scene we are taken to a room where his actions are evaluated. “I didn’t realise this was an interview,” remarks a defensive Mason, as we learn more about him despite his unwillingness to cooperate.

He refuses to talk about any squadmates he lost, nor does he waver on how he acted towards the enemy. Simply put: he was given orders, and he followed them. He did his “f-ckin’ job.” The camera switches to his interviewer after he spits out that last line, and her understated reaction obviously paves the way for what direction his army career is to take.

What follows is a little jarring, as we are taken down a path that is not expected at all. The start of the film and the interview following suggests that this could be another movie about PTSD in the modern world of war. This however couldn’t be further from the truth, and the film benefits.

 

A Fighting Season Lew Temple and Clayne Crawford image
A Fighting Season | and

 

A DIFFERENT KIND OF WAR

Mason is understandably upset at his sudden change of role, as he feels he would be best suited to be on the ground, in the war-zone, in his boots with his fox-hole buddies. But Staff Sergeant Harris takes a liking to him, and informs him that there is indeed a war on at home too.

At first, it is hard to take him seriously, but the more we explore, this notion becomes less ridiculous and more of a reality. Subsequently, Miller slowly begins to take his new role a little more seriously. But what is it that Harris and Miller are doing exactly? What war are they fighting?

The war to sign up potential soldiers. What else?

Through this process we witness a seedy underside to these proceedings, though adding interest is that it is studying both characters, Sargeant Harris and Mason, as soldiers, and as people. The two don’t share much in the way of chemistry, which is disappointing as both turn in decent performances, especially Crawford. But the two become very interesting as characters, especially Harris.

 

A Fighting Season Clayne Crawford image
A Fighting Season | Clayne Crawford

 

THE HARD SELL

On that note though, it is very hard to take Lew Temple seriously as Staff Sergeant Harris. He is a combination of a poor FULL METAL JACKET drill officer and a stereotypical power-crazed military man, but his insane personality somehow works within the framework of A FIGHTING SEASON. It does make for some very awkward, unnatural scenes though.

Most examples of this take place when Harris is talking to parents, using Mason as an example of why parents should be sending their children to war in 2006. Not only do some of these scenes feel unnatural, the parents (and subsequently, the film) take a very biased perspective: war is bad, you are killing our kids, you are lying to us, you are manipulating us. This is all true to some extent I am sure, but this film exaggerates the notion to near-ridiculous levels, with Harris near-threatening parents with the ultimate weapon: challenging that they won’t be able to pay for their son’s tuition without a cheque from the US Army. To say that guilt is used as a weapon is a gross understatement, and Mason also experiences this as Harris isn’t always the one doing the talking.

Religion is also a big part of the mix – but again, it is near impossible to know how realistic it is, or how biased it is, unless you know the facts.

 

A Fighting Season Movie image

 

CONCLUSION

While A FIGHTING SEASON ends on quite a poignant note; an agenda of sorts – a bias – is obvious here, and the creativity on display makes one think that this would have been better served as a documentary. As it is, it simply feels like a probable under-reported aspect of the “war on ‘terrorism” blown wildly out of proportion, to a point where facts and fiction are a blur. Which is fine for an entertaining movie, but as far as real politics go, perhaps the whole truth and nothing but the truth could have served a better purpose here. The tagline, “Based on true events” to begin a film simply does not cut it anymore.

 

 

 

YOUR REVIEWER:

Jordan Dodd is an aspiring novelist hailing from Adelaide, Australia. His first book is a chronicle of his experiences in a rehab centre that was more of a cult than anything else, and his goal is to finish it and pitch it to someone who matters. It can be found here. He also enjoys writing about film, which is probably his biggest obsession (apart from writing). When not writing for Salty Popcorn Jordan has his own website – he can be contacted via www.epilepticmoondancer.net

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.