Johnny Mad Dog (2008)
Director: Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire.
Starring: Christophe Minie (Johnny Mad Dog), Daisy Victoria Vandy (Laokole), Joseph Duo (Never Die), Dagbeth Tweh (No Good Advice), Careen Moore (Fatmata - Lovelita), Mohammed Sesay (Butterfly), Barry Chernoh (Small Devil), Léo Boyeneh Kote (Pussy Cat), Maxwell Carter (Monsieur Kamara), Miata Fahnbulleh (Madame Kamara), Terry Johnson (Joseph), Onismus Kamoh (Fofo), Lawrence King (Ibrahim), Massiata E. Kenneh (Tanya Toyo), Anthony King (Pere Ibrahim).
filmed in Liberia, child soldiers fighting a war in an African country
15 year old Johnny Mad Dog leads a group of younger boys supposedly to try to help overthrow the government, but at the present they are committing a home invasion. They force the inhabitants of the house outside in a tight grouping. A young fellow known as the General says that they need money to pay for the war. The family says that they have no guns and no money. Mad Dog asks if there are any government troops here? The family says the government troops only pass by their area. They kill an old man and have a son kill his father. Then they leave to go onto their next victims.
On the radio comes the news: " . . . facing the violent offensive by rebel factions who are now 12 miles from the city. Government forces have deployed and claim to be in control of the situation. In a statement from the president, he said, and I quote, 'I'm waiting for the imminent intervention of UN forces.' "
The boys are told by the General that their mission is to capture the TV station. The General calls Johnny Mad Dog over to him. He cuts an opening in the skin of Mad Dog's face and then places cocaine on the wound. He tells Mad Dog that the coke will jack him up.
The boys fire a RPG into the TV station. They then run to the station. They break a window to get into the station and then they start shooting at people trying to run away from them. They randomly shoot people. One boy, known as No Good Advice, asks a man if he works for the Dogo president? There is no answer. The boy shoots the man. They recognize Tanya Toyo as one of the news hosts. They are mad at her because she says that the boys are rebels coming to kill the people. And they say she is a Dogo woman. Mad Dog says she's a fine looking woman. Mad Dog says he's going to rape her. The Mad Dog's assistant rapes the woman.
On the radio is heard: "The war has displaced people. Most families have lost relatives and loved ones. I lost six family members, including my mother, my grand mother, my father. Suddenly the rebels show up and grab your people, three or four family members, and kill them in front of you. You're forced to laugh. The kids, they say: 'Laugh!' And if you cry, you die."
Mad Dog and his group run into another pack of boys. Their leader is Young Major.
The General says that tomorrow they will attack and set fire to the city, and Mad Dog is the target commander. He tells the boys that for too long they have been dominated by the Dogo. They will kill the Dogo and liberate the city.
Mad Dog sees a young woman named Fatumata. He says that she's a Dogo but she is going to join his unit and will help them overthrow the president. Fatumata has to go with Mad Dog.
The smaller boys are put through some kind of ceremony that will make them "death dealers, rebels". "Fight, no retreat. Don't think about home. After the revolution, you will get your benefits." The speaker continues: "Any soldier talking about ma and pa will be executed." The General fires off his automatic weapon with shells from which the gun powder has been removed. He says they can now see that they are bullet proof. So: "Don't draw back from war. If they fire at you, fire back."
Before the battle, the boys smoke drugs to make them high. They also take drugs orally.
The General tells Mad Dog that his mission is to strike the embassy.
A big explosion goes off and the General leads some of the boys into battle. Mad Dog and Young Major lead their troops firing away at full blast.
A young girl in the city hears the explosion. She goes to her father to say that she feels scared. Her poor father has no legs at all.
A boy tries to retreat and is killed by the General.
The young girl wakes up her brother Fofo, saying they have to leave. The girl wants to take her father with them in a wheelbarrow, but he tells them he is staying. He pushes them outside, closes the door and sits down by the door.
Daughter and Fofo join the refugees headed out of the city.
The boys kill a couple in a pickup truck to take the vehicle for themselves. They drive through the deserted streets of the city. They see a man carrying a pig over his shoulder. Mad Dog's assistant No Good Advice stops the man. He berated the older man saying that the man is just a looter. He takes the pig and the man's coat, but lets him live.
Daughter and Fofo are walking down an empty street and here comes the wild boys in their truck. She turns a corner and hides behind the wall of the building. The boys find a city boy and accuse him of being a government fighter. They also call him a Dogo man. As the boy tries to run away, they shoot him down.
Mad Dog goes looking for city residents. He runs right into the daughter and Fofo. He stares at them for awhile, then leaves them alone.
The daughter hides Fofo in a barrel while she runs back home to get father. She finds her father very badly wounded. She puts him into a wheelbarrow and returns to the building where Fofo is hiding. Daughter can't find Fofo. So she starts pushing the wheelbarrow to see if she can see Fofo on the streets. Now here are government troops on the streets.
And now the boys from hell start taking some casualties. The call goes out that there's a sniper in one of the buildings. The boys move into the building where they suspect the sniper is. They start checking the rooms until they finds the sniper and kill him.
Daughter keeps walking until she gets to the UN soldiers.
Meanwhile the wild boys try to go into the hospital guarded by UN soldiers. The UN soldiers refuse to let them in, unless they leave their weapons behind. The boys threaten to kill all the UN soldiers. Finally, two Red Cross workers come and get the wounded wild boy. They take him inside. The boys say they are going to establish a post right across the street and if their boy doesn't come out all fixed up, they they are definitely going to kill all the UN soldiers.
Dad is patched up by the medical staff.
Mad Dog is going to kill the pig to give the boys something to eat, but No Good Advice keeps saying no. Mad Dog kills the pig anyway and then berates No Good Advice.
Daughter goes looking for her brother.
No Good Advice sits down on the beach and watches the waves come in and out.
Mad Dog talks to Fatumata. He gives her a different name: Lovelita. He shows her how to shoot a rifle. Lovelita asks him how long has he been fighting the war? He started fighting when he was ten years old. And he doesn't have any family. Later he has sex with the girl. (brief nudity)
Refugees scream and try to get away from the mad boys as they shoot randomly into their ranks.
Mad Dog goes into a morgue. There is one old man in there praying over the dead. No Good Advice shoots the man.
Daughter's father dies and she buries him in a cemetery by a road.
Mad Dog and his crew just love to taunt their poor captives. They do this to an older couple who are very educated. Mad Dog says the woman is Dogo, but her husband says she's the same tribe as Mad Dog. He, the husband, is the only one who is Dogo. The boys tell them to disrobe and start having sex with each other. Meanwhile, other wild boys are riding around the streets of the down firing their weapons off as a form of enjoyment.
At night the rebels build a bonfire and dance around it with the automatic weapons. Mad Dog is going to have sex with another young girl. Lovelita comes in with an automatic weapons and breaks it up. The other girl runs out side with Lovelita chasing her. There is a burst of automatic weapons fire. Mad Dog looks out and sees Lovelita dead on the ground, shot by some men. Mad Dog is saddened by this event. He watches over her body on a cot and tears run down his face.
The war comes to an end. Mad Dog says hello to his General, but the man tells him he has joined the regular army now and he is proud to say that he is a corporal now. Mad Dog asks if there's no more war what's he supposed to do now? The man doesn't now. He only tells Mad Dog to turn in his weapon. They no longer want boys with weapons. Mad Dog says he wants the money the government owes him. The former general tells him that there is no money. He then threatens Mad Dog with putting him in a refugee camp as a security guard to watch over the Dogos.
Daughter comes into a village. She asks a Red Cross worker if he has come across a little boy named Fofo. The man says no. A little girl with no parents comes over to her. Daughter picks her up. She gives the little girl a bath. She walks around what is really a refugee camp. She carries the little girl with her. She sees Mad Dog acting as a guard and says she knows that he's a killer. Mad Dog doesn't recognize her and asks the girl how does she know him? She walks away from him. The guards are having a tough time holding the hungry people back from starting a food riot.
Later Mad Dog comes looking for Daughter. He finds her and makes her come with him. She asks him why did he bring her to his bed? He responds: "Anything I feel, I'll do it." He wants to know her name. She says: "You think I'll tell you my name, Mad Dog?" He tells her that "Mad Dog is finished." She asks him where is her little brother? She adds: "You killed him." Daughter maintains: "I saw you kill a little boy, for oranges." He puts a red necklace around her neck. She takes it off. He tries to kiss her, but she pushes him hard to the ground. She picks up his automatic weapon and starts hitting him again and again in the head with the rifle butt. Now she stands triumphant over him with the automatic weapon in her hands pointed at the great Mad Dog.
Good film about a terrible situation. Young boys used as "soldiers". With no decent adults guiding them, they think they can do anything they want to enemy soldiers and civilians. They are more bandits than soldiers. And they are high on the thrill of absolute power over adults and other children. The boys love to tease and taunt their captives and they may or may not kill their captives, depending upon how they feel. They are out of control little killers, treating their war experience as a great time at a summer camp without adult supervision. They are like spree killers killing anyone they feel like killing. The adults giving the orders to the boys and then letting them handle the missions as they see fit, are the one who needto be severely punished, because the boys were certainly guilty of committing war crimes, and the adults were very aware of this. The boys do just one sickening thing after another to innocent civilians. Children should really not be allowed to run rampant! Little monsters running amok. I thought the child actors were very good.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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