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Movie Review: Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children

May 17, 2013

Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children PosterFight Like Soldiers Die Like Children – A White Pine Release

Release Date: May 17th, 2013 @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Rated PG for mature themes

Running time: 82 minutes

Patrick Reed (dir.)

Mark Korven (music)

Roméo Dallaire as Himself

Michel Chikwanine as Voice of Child

Romeo Dallaire

©White Pine Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Roméo Dallaire and former child soldier Bwira Kapoto in Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children.

Our reviews below:


Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

When Roméo Dallaire was a Commander for the United Nations back in 1993, he was sent to Rwanda, becoming a first hand witness to the horrible genocide that took the lives of over 800,000 people.  After his retirement, he dedicated his life to becoming a prominent human rights advocate, openly speaking out against the ongoing use of child soldiers in many third world countries.  His story was first accounted in the 2007 documentary Shake Hands With the Devil, which director Patrick Reed has followed up with Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children.

Although a lot of the facts in Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children have already been presented in other ways, Roméo Dallaire is a fascinating subject and this is a well made film that does a good job of showing the truth in a straight forward and urgent way.  Because most of the graphic images are kept at bay, the important message will be able to reach a wider audience, making this a good choice to show in schools as an introduction to the subject.  The descriptions of combat and child soldier process are disturbing enough on their own.

The animated interludes that retell a heartbreaking story bring something unique to the film, making Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children an interesting and thought provoking documentary about the shocking social injustice that is the use of child soldiers.


Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children Review by Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Fight Like Soldiers, Die Like Children is a second documentary with Roméo Dallaire, following Shake Hands With the Devil.  A former General who served as a peacekeeper during the Rwandan genocide, Dallaire has now made it his life mission to try to end the use of child soldiers.

Taking us into Rwanda and the Congo, Fight Like Soldiers is an interesting introduction to the subject, although doesn’t present much new for those already familiar with it.  The film is worth seeing for Dallaire’s own perspective though – which as a former combatant allows him to empathize with why some young people may become stuck in the cycle of fighting.  Those interested in human rights issues will probably want to check this one out.


Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children Review by Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Canadian Senator Roméo Dallaire is the subject of another documentary about the horrific abuse of children being forced into combat.  After Dallaire had an encounter with a child soldier during the Rwandan genocide, he vowed to protect children from the unthinkable cruelties of being used as nothing more than weapons.  Children are used as living shields for warlords, since a soldier would be reluctant to shoot a youth until it was too late.  Children are also considered expendable, as the youth population in many third world societies is over 50%.  With at least 250,000 child soldiers worldwide, the situation seems dire.

The documentary focuses on Congo, where rumblings of the Rwandan genocide still linger almost as a Cold War.  Dallaire, with the help of the UN, hopes to free youth that have been recruited by announcing via radio, that any child used as a soldier can escape to any UN base.  We meet two former child soldiers, age 15 and 16, who describe how they escaped.

Dallaire also touches on the horrors of terrorist Joseph Kony, the brutal kidnapping leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army.  One girl who escaped his clutches describes him as the devil in disguise.  As he is always hiding, the only hope for his defeat are local people armed with handmade weapons.  Dallaire begs the question of what makes war so appealing in the first place.  He speculates it may be that the feeling of combat is more exciting that sex, and thus becomes like a drug.  All is not hopeless, however, as Dallaire ends on a note of hope, suggesting that the use of child soldiers may end within 50 years.

Interspliced with artistic symbolic animation, Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children is an excellent introduction to a tragic topic.  With little graphic imagery, this documentary is a perfect choice to show in a middle or high school.


Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children Review by Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Canadian Senator Roméo Dallaire is a man with an all consuming mission – to stop the use and recruitment of child soldiers around the world.  The documentary, Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children, directed by Patrick Reed, gives insight into Dallaire’s drive and highlight the work the retired general is doing with the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Project.

Senator Dallaire’s perspective about what drives a child soldier is fascinating.  He describes the adrenaline rush of being in the thick of combat as stronger than sex.  He understands how once a child soldier is recruited  and psychologically tortured and manipulated they become powerful killing machines.  Yet Senator Dallaire has the utmost respect and absolute hope that child soldiers can be rescued and rehabilitated.  He also addresses the issue of the use of young females as child breeders to create a whole new generation of child soldiers.

The key to ending these atrocities according to Dallaire is a United Nations presence in areas of conflict where there are safe zones for children to go before they are kidnapped and recruited as soldiers or sex slaves.  Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children offers a glimmer of hope that things can change.  The film doesn’t rely on graphic images to get the message across, but rather interviews with with Senator Dallaire and former child soldiers.

This documentary is suitable viewing for teens and adults whole are interested in the issue of child soldiers.  With a running time of 82 minutes, it would also be suitable for classroom use.


Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children Review by Tony

*** (out of 4)

Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children is a Canadian documentary bringing Roméo Dallaire back to Africa to visit UN camps that attempt to rescue and rehabilitate young people that had been abducted by various warlords, the boys to serve as child soldiers and the girls as “bush wives.” Though he can never fully recover from memories of the Rwanda massacres that as a UN observer he was left powerless to stop, Dallaire hopes that in his quiet way he can still make a difference here. Along with a former military colleague and a pair of Canadian social workers, he interviews a warlord and a number of former child recruits on their way to a camp and eventually home to an uncertain future where they may not be accepted.

Over 82 minutes, the film takes the time needed to give the audience a sense of the frustration but hope that Dallaire shares with us. At his age, he remains as critical as ever of the powers that allow these atrocities to continue, and reminds us of the hypocrisy that pays lip service to child soldiers within Africa while condemning the Canadian Omar Khadr who at 15 allegedly killed a white American officer.

Though it admittedly goes over ground familiar to many, Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children is a good documentary of the current situation in Africa and other places where child soldiers are seen as a cheap weapon system.


Consensus: Although Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children shares some familiar facts, the documentary provides good insight into the social injustice of child soldiers, through candid interviews with the fascinating Roméo Dallaire.  *** (Out of 4)

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