KARMALINK: Movie Review

Karmalink_Final Poster

Production Year: 2021
Director: Jake Wachtel
Writers: Jake Wachtel, Christopher Larsen
Cast: Srey Leak Chhith, Leng Heng Prak, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Cindy Sirinya Bishop,       Rous Mony and Sveng Socheata
Genre: Sci-Fi, Mystery
Country: Cambodia
Language: Khmer with English subtitles
Run Time: 1 hour 42 minutes

Children are the Future!

Jake Wachtel’s KARMALINK is a fascinating tale of Srey Leak (Srey Leak Chhith) and Leng Heng (Leng Heng Prak) and a group of his friends, as they, their families and all the members of the community are being left behind with new technological advancements and at the same time, trying to save their community, the Tralok Bek neighborhood of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, from being forced to relocate, in order to make room for a speed train. They believe they must find the buried gold Buddhist statute to save them all.

Watching Srey and 13year-old Leng, along with his friends, devise a plan to save their Tralok Bek neighborhood and their determination to not be left behind with the new technology. Is a reminder, that it is the kids of today that will eventually inherit the good and the bad that is left behind by the adults currently in power, and will have to develop solutions to those problems.

It is a reminder of what the United States is called eminent domain. It gives the government the right to to force owners to sell their private property, for what is suppose to be for the public good. Be it, freeways or highways that leads to people being forced to move and also divide communities.

The backdrop of the skyscrapers hoovering over the slums where Srey Leak Chhith, Leng Heng Prak, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Cindy Sirinya Bishop, Rous Mony and Sveng Socheata call home as they go about their daily lives is a stark reminder of the class-difference between the wealthy and those living in extreme poverty that while the kids are trying to save their close-knit community.

KARMALINK brings Girl Power! into sharp focus with Srey Leak (Srey Leak Chhith). Whether it is the interaction with her older brother, who appears to be irresponsible, or leading a group of boys, who call her the detective, as they search to find a buried gold Buddhist statute.

Reminded of the gentrification of marginalized communities from around the world and how they are left behind socially, economically and technologically too. Even here in the U. S. people do not have access to the internet, something that is now considered a basic service that is denied to many.

And, commonly used by governments, eminent domain that forces private citizens to sell their private property to state and/or federal government, is used to force people from their home in order to build a speed train. A train that those in the Tralok Bek neighborhood will most likely never use.

Director Jake Wachtel weaves together the reality of life in the slums of Cambodia, the technological advancements taking place around those who are struggling for their survival and their dominate societal belief in reincarnation thorough Sci-Fi to tell a captivating narrative in KARMALINK.

Photo 1- Leng Heng Prak in Jake Wachtel's KARMALINK (Photo Credit_ Good Deed Entertainment)

Cinematographer Robert Leitzell captures a vivid picture of Heng's reincarnations through out time., the nitty gritty life in the slums, where the actors Srey and Leng Heng were born and live. The dark lighting provides the ambiance and intensity for Leng Heng’s journeys back in time.

Editors Harrison Atkins, Stephanie Kaznocha work flows effortlessly from scene to scene, helping to tell a very compelling story.

The clothes worn by the characters give a clear indication to their social and economic status within the society they live.

The use of the actual homes and conditions of the residences in the Tralok Bek neighborhood adds to the movie experience of the Set Design (does the setting influence other elements. does it add or subtract from my experience.)

KARMALINK takes place in the Tralok Bek neighborhood of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Tralok Bek is where Srey Leak Chhith, Leng Heng Prak lived and called home. Being filmed in a real place, where real actors lived depicting their actual day to day experiences gives the film a believably story line.

Composer Ariel Marx’s musical score works well with the various scenes providing the suspense needed for a mystery and travel through time.

KARMALINK is a great film, that is sure to captivate your attention, with its cast of kids ready and able to take on the world for the greater good.

I was saddened to read that Leng Heng Prak had passed away in 2021. He had the potential a future in film making

Release Date: July 15, 2022
Distributor: Good Deed Entertainment
Producer: Valerie Steinberg
Production Co: Valerie Steinberg Productions
Co-producers: Sok Visal (802 Films, Cambodia), Christopher Rompré (littleBIG Films, Cambodia)
Executive Producer(s): Todd Brown, Nate Bolotin, Joe & Freddi Felt
Run time: 1 hour 42 minutes
Cast: Srey Leak Chhith, Leng Heng Prak, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Cindy Sirinya Bishop, Rous Mony, Sveng Socheata, Sokvan So, Sreng Chear, Samneang Chea, No Mo, Ty Li, Tommy Henderson, Rando Henderson, Savern Oum, Pisey Pen, Linda Chhith, Sreyneat Chhith, Morokort Chhith, David Rithyruth Alexander, Channan Moa, Reach Hunchan, Sothun Sok, Socheata Khek, Sotereak Ouk, James Adomian
Director: Jake Wachtel
Writers: Jake Wachtel, Christopher Larsen
Cinematography: Robert Leitzell
Editors: Harrison Atkins, Stephanie Kaznocha
Sound Editor: Vincent Villa
Composer: Ariel Marx
Production Designer: Olga Miasnikova