Hyena Road – Blu-ray review and giveaway

Hyena RoadHyena Road poster follows a group of soldiers in the Canadian Armed Forces based in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan, as they try to complete the construction of a highway link deep into the Horn of Panjwayi – considered the spiritual epicenter of the Taliban. This link is aptly named Hyena Road. But the workers are constantly under attack from the Taliban, delaying the completion of the highway.

On a sniper mission to detect Islamic militants in the area, a detachment spots a seemingly harmless patch of damaged road, but what this movie teaches us early on is that there’s no such thing as just a bad stretch of road, especially on the “hostile” grounds of Afghanistan. The soldiers are made. Under attack, they seek refuge in a small village, Haji Baba, where a mysterious man saves them from certain death.

Intelligence Officer Ryan Mitchell (Paul Gross) is particularly interested in this mysterious savior, who might be the legendary “Lion of the Desert,” also known as The Ghost – a former Jihadi warrior who may be able to use his influence to help provide vital intelligence on the Taliban in order to finally complete Hyena Road. But the investigation into this Pakistani legend leads the team into more danger than any of them could have ever predicted.

The struggle to foster The Ghost’s (Neamat Arghandabi) good will, balancing the political and moral tension between a gangster named BDK and his violent crimes, all while trying to create a safe passage across Afghanistan has Mitchell and his people caught in dangerous and potentially deadly crosshairs.

This action thriller thoroughly details the ravages of battle, as well as the complicated lives of a group of soldiers — balancing both the pressure of wartime, as well as their own personal battles.

Directed by star Paul Gross, the Canadian actor-turned-director known for First World War epic Passchendaele, Hyena Road is one complicated, mildly derivative, but overall very accurate and entertaining depiction of very real events that happen every day in the 21st century landscape of war.

First of all, this is one good-looking movie. The initial action sequence is extremely well-coordinated and pretty riveting. As are most of the sequences, to be fair. The cinematography is excellent; the jerky camera movements feel pretty authentic to the chaos and immediacy that is war, or how one would imagine it to be. There really aren’t a lot of Canadian films out there with such great production value. It’s refreshing to see.

The way Gross weaves back and forth between the calmer, more personal moments of these soldiers to when their lives are literally at stake is effectively done. The tension is built from the get-go and never wavers. Any moment of calm, whether on the base or driving through Kandahar City, you know that chaos and gunfire can erupt at any moment.

But — on the flipside — I found some of the subplots unnecessary, like the affair between leading man Ryan Sanders (Rossif Sutherland) and Captain Jennifer Bowman (Christine Horne). The movie is so dense with action and plotpoints everywhere else, that the addition of a romance was a little gratuitous.

The script is somewhat formulaic as well, but maybe that’s to be expected with a movie that’s so reliant on its military speak. The “Three Niner Alphas,” “66 Bravos” and “Rogers” are all very well researched and accurate, but it all kind of dilutes what could have been funnier and deeper material elsewhere. And there are bursts of voiceover that seem, at times, arbitrary.

However, I do believe there is a method to all of it. There’s clearly a deep-rooted cynicism that comes naturally to a person when they’re constantly exposed to violence and war — but underneath it all, there’s faith. In a movie like this and at a time when the whole concept of war is constantly called into question, it’s important to show these soldiers’ underlying faith in the necessity of it all. We need to understand why these people are doing what they’re doing. What Gross is attempting to do with this movie is to allow the lives of a few to speak for the lives of many. To represent the thousands of Canadian soldiers who sacrifice so much, leaving family and friends behind, to do something they truly believe in. This is what is so successful about the movie.

It’s also promising to see homegrown films with a wider distribution and larger budget such as this, including homegrown talent — a mostly Canadian cast (with appearances from a couple of Aboriginal actors, including Aqqalu Meekis), a Canadian crew, Canadian studios and Canadian distributors.

Hyena Road is a very effective and very powerful look into the machinations and politics of modern warfare, and the fine balance between what is right and what is moral in times of chaos. It certainly is one hell of a rough road.

Blu-Ray Extras: Going Down Hyena Road, The Realism of Hyena Road, The Effects of Hyena Road, Constructing Hyena Road, Teaser of Hyena Road, Trailer of Hyena Road.

We have four copies of this Blu-ray to giveaway – if you’d like one, please leave a comment below telling us which actor in this movie is your favorite. Contest open to Canadian residents only.

This contest is now closed. Congratulations to our four winners: Miranda Godfrey, Justin Murphy, Kathy Barry and James Froude.

~Shelby Morton

 

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Comments & Discussion

  1. Kevin M • January 26, 2016 @ 10:23 AM

    My favourite actor in this film is Rossif Sutherland.

  2. Miranda Godfrey • January 26, 2016 @ 10:36 AM

    Allan Hawco 🙂

  3. Sammy Poulton • January 26, 2016 @ 10:37 AM

    Paul Gross … He’s a phenomenal actor .. director and writer … truly love all his work

  4. Anita Alarie • January 26, 2016 @ 10:49 AM

    Although I loved meeting All the actors at the premier, Allan Hawco will forever be my favourite!

  5. Matthew O. • January 26, 2016 @ 11:58 AM

    Paul Gross!

  6. jennie • January 26, 2016 @ 12:10 PM

    Paul Gross is my fave.

  7. Roy H • January 26, 2016 @ 12:25 PM

    Paul Gross

  8. Sandra p • January 26, 2016 @ 1:07 PM

    My favourite actor in the film is Paul Gross. Always engaging when watching his cinematic performances.

  9. Arturo • January 26, 2016 @ 1:07 PM

    My favorite actor in Hyena Road is Paul Gross.

  10. Dan • January 26, 2016 @ 2:04 PM

    My favourite actor is Paul Gross

  11. David Ryder • January 26, 2016 @ 3:37 PM

    Paul Gross is my favorite actor in the movie. I enjoyed following him on the journey that the movie tells!

  12. Katya Mitchell • January 26, 2016 @ 4:39 PM

    My favorite actor is Paul Gross

  13. Patricia • January 26, 2016 @ 4:53 PM

    Paul Gross. A vey believable performance.

  14. Calvin Chou • January 26, 2016 @ 5:20 PM

    Actually I hear that some the extras were real military people so kudos to Paul Gross. Paul was quite good in this movie.

  15. Dwayne Taylor • January 26, 2016 @ 5:22 PM

    It has to be Paul Gross as my favorite actor in this movie 🙂 . Thank you and good luck to all !!!!

  16. Darren • January 26, 2016 @ 5:22 PM

    Allan Hawco!

  17. curt hungerford • January 26, 2016 @ 5:32 PM

    Paul Gross

  18. Wayne Lecoy • January 26, 2016 @ 5:38 PM

    It would be great to win a Hyena Road Blu-ray.
    I haven’t watched this movie yet.
    In response to your question of
    Which actor in this movie is your favorite?
    My favourite actor in this movie is Paul Gross.
    I enjoyed reading your review.
    Thank you for having this giveaway.

  19. Stefanie S • January 26, 2016 @ 5:39 PM

    Paul Gross is awesome! love that guy

  20. Gessie Spencer • January 26, 2016 @ 5:47 PM

    My favorite actor in the film is Paul Gross. Thanks for the chance !

  21. Lorraine • January 26, 2016 @ 5:55 PM

    My vote goes to Christine Horne! Thank you…

  22. Harriet Benson • January 26, 2016 @ 6:02 PM

    Paul GRoss for sure.

  23. Sylvain Provost • January 26, 2016 @ 6:23 PM

    Paul Gross is my favorite actor in the cast of ‘Hyena Road’ because of his versatility. Having worked in ‘Men With Brooms’ or the ‘Due South’ TV series, he honed his talent as a comedian. But working on ‘Passchendaele’, another war story, he was able to truly become a serious dramatic actor.

  24. Bry Memmo • January 26, 2016 @ 6:45 PM

    I love the works of Paul Gross. Very talented man. Would love to see the movie! Thanks for another awesome giveaway!!

  25. Kathy Barry • January 26, 2016 @ 7:07 PM

    My favorite in this movie is Paul Gross. I would love to win a Hyena Road Blu-Ray. Thank you for the opportunity for a chance to qualify.

  26. joanne darrell • January 26, 2016 @ 7:09 PM

    Paul Gross is my favorite actor.

  27. Gary Smith • January 26, 2016 @ 7:20 PM

    Paul Gross, I was a big fan of Due South.

  28. Kirsten N. • January 26, 2016 @ 7:34 PM

    Paul Gross! Loved him in Due South. Still have to see this movie.

  29. Janet • January 26, 2016 @ 7:38 PM

    Loved Paul Gross

  30. james froude • January 26, 2016 @ 9:13 PM

    hi! definitely Paul Gross, he is a great performer, and a great Canadian. i served in the Canadian army, I am an infantry man (retired) and i was in Afghanistan.. this movie was vary accurate.. and Paul’s performance was perfect. thanks

  31. Paul Gross • January 26, 2016 @ 9:30 PM

    Paul Gross

  32. Karen Gauthier • January 26, 2016 @ 9:38 PM

    I would love to win a Hyena Road Blu-ray.
    In response to your question of
    Which actor in this movie is your favorite?
    My favourite actor in this movie is Paul Gross.
    Thank you for having this giveaway.

  33. Cory Fillion • January 26, 2016 @ 9:55 PM

    It would be great to win a Hyena Road Blu-ray.
    In response to your question of
    Which actor in this movie is your favorite?
    My favourite actor in this movie is Paul Gross.
    Thank you for having this giveaway.

  34. CLC • January 26, 2016 @ 10:42 PM

    I’ve always followed the work of Paul Gross and would like to see this.

  35. Elsie MacLeod • January 26, 2016 @ 10:43 PM

    Hyena Road is an excellent movie…quite realistic.

  36. therese murphy • January 26, 2016 @ 10:45 PM

    My favourite actor in this movie is Paul Gross.

  37. pat • January 26, 2016 @ 10:48 PM

    Allan Hawco is my pick .

  38. jessica • January 26, 2016 @ 10:50 PM

    Christine Horne

  39. justin • January 26, 2016 @ 10:52 PM

    I thought Rossif Sutherland was great .

  40. Jordan fenske • January 26, 2016 @ 11:37 PM

    My favourite actor was Paul gross, I think it is awesome how he is in his movies. He played his character great. I would love a copy of this movie it was great

  41. josh • January 27, 2016 @ 1:52 AM

    Paul Gross. Very talented actor!

  42. Jenn • January 27, 2016 @ 7:52 AM

    I would love to win a copy of this movie, my husband and I really want to see it. My favorite actor in this movie would be Paul Gross. He was wonderful in Passchendaele and I just know he will give a stellar performance in Hyena Road as well!

  43. Kim Stenner • January 27, 2016 @ 8:54 AM

    Paul Gross is my favourite in this film

  44. Yvonne S • January 27, 2016 @ 12:05 PM

    paul gross of course

  45. Don Durante • January 27, 2016 @ 3:14 PM

    Paul was very good in Passchendaele. I like watching him work. Thank You for the chance

  46. Rob Smith • January 27, 2016 @ 8:18 PM

    Allan Hawco.

  47. Shane Tourangeau • January 27, 2016 @ 9:00 PM

    To answer the question , I felt Paul Gross character and Paul’s acting were excellent. The Ryan Mitchell to me came across as what I would expect and believe. I really believe this is one of the best movies our country has produced. I am a bit biased as right here in my tv room, sits a 8X10 photo of my hero, my son , in there sandy environment, sitting in the exact I.S.A.F combat fatigues. If I get a copy, we will pass it around for years in our huge, close family. My son was deployed to Afganistan when he was 20 years old. Great work Mr. Gross !!

  48. Ben Puszka • January 28, 2016 @ 10:02 PM

    Paul Gross of course!

  49. Leslie • January 29, 2016 @ 4:33 PM

    Paul Gross…great actor. Loved him in Men With Brooms.

  50. Linda • January 30, 2016 @ 2:58 PM

    Paul Gross

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