The Jammed (2007)
Inspired by court transcripts and actual events, THE JAMMED is a social thriller about trafficking and the sex slave trade in Melbourne. When a Chinese mother arrives in Melbourne to find her missing daughter, she enlists the help of Ashley Hudson. Ashley reluctantly agrees to help search, and is soon drawn into the dark underworld of this cultured city as she tries to rescue three girls from a trafficking syndicate. As the story unravels the sinister workings of illegal prostitution and governmental deportation is filled with twists and surprises.
A thriller about trafficking, governmental deportation and the sex slave trade in Melbourne.
- Just when it was beginning to look like a ho-hum year for Australian film, along comes The Jammed, a low-budget, locally made shock of electricity that further restores one's faith in just how good Australian social-realist films can be.
Set largely in the underworld of Melbourne's illegal sex trade, the film is a prime example of how a factually based story about a hot-button topic can be morphed into compelling fiction. For want of a more eloquent analogy, watching The Jammed is the cinematic equivalent of having a bucket of cold water thrown into your face.
The film kicks off with a traditionally frenetic "what the hell is going on?" opening sequence as an illegal immigrant working as a prostitute undergoes interrogation in an immigration office, on the verge of being deported.
We then jump back in time a mere three weeks for the back-story and are introduced to five women. Crystal (Emma Lung), Vanya (Saskia Burmeister) and Rubi (Sun Park) have been imported into Australia with false papers and forced to work as prostitutes. Sunee (Amanda Ma) is a frightened Chinese mother with a purse full of cash looking for her missing daughter.
Linking these women is Ashley (Veronica Sywack), a bored, single insurance clerk who unwittingly becomes involved in the search when she meets Sunee while picking up somebody at the airport.
Reluctant at first to help this stranger, Ashley is overtaken by growing compassion for her plight, first putting up missing posters on poles then pressing an ex-boyfriend into service to help her out. She, of course, has no idea how nasty and violent the underworld is, and at one point is the recipient of the most violent verbal threat since Robert De Niro told Nick Nolte in Cape Fear that he was going to learn about loss.
The film is unrelenting in its detailed dramatic exposition of the physical and psychological conditions these women endure. It also explains how criminal brothel owners are able to enslave women without the need for chains, and without the fear that they will run off at the first opportunity and tell the police.
The story rides on a strong undercurrent of information about the Melbourne sex slave trade, reflecting the extensive research that went into the film. Thankfully, though, the film does not sidestep its duty to tell a story by resorting to the docu-drama format.
The film's primary obligation is not as a public service announcement but to deliver an engrossing dramatic thriller. Dee McLachlan deserves an award for the quality of her direction of that rarest of all beasts - a finely honed screenplay.