In rural Laos, a place of verdant forests and unexploded cluster bombs, ten-year-old Ahlo (Sitthiphon Disamoe) and his family are forced to leave their village to make way for a new electricity-generating dam. The crooked communist regime isn’t the only one with Ahlo in its sights: His superstitious granny is convinced he was born under a bad sign, and the evidence isn’t unconvincing, given the string of accidents, ass whuppings and evictions he seems to attract.
After meeting up with another pair of refugees—orphan Kia (Loungnam Kaosainam) and her James Brown–aping uncle, Purple (the wired Thep Phongam)—Ahlo finally finds a purpose: to win the cash prize in a homemade-projectile-launching contest. Kim Mordaunt’s when-life-gives-you-land-mines tale is light on well-drawn characters, but its performances, especially from the nonprofessional junior members, more than light the fuse for the finale.
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