Review: ‘3 Years in Pakistan: The Erik Audé Story’ is an excruciating look at actor/stuntman’s ordeal

Acor Mark Hapka as Erik Audé in a dramatization from the documentary “3 Years in Pakistan: The Erik Audé Story.”
(Gravitas Ventures)

If you’re making a serious-minded film chronicling the exploits of an American who was locked up in a Pakistani prison despite his proclaimed innocence, it’s probably inadvisable to start out with an inspirational quote by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But that’s just one of the clunky decisions made by “3 Years in Pakistan: The Erik Audé Story,” which, with its overtly theatrical dramatizations, occupies a tone-deaf void somewhere between investigative documentary and movie of the week.

Back in 2002, Audé, an L.A. actor and stuntman, was arrested at the Islamabad International Airport when 3.6 kilos of opium were found concealed in a case of luxury leather samples he was transporting as a side gig.

Insisting he was an unwitting pawn in an international drug smuggling scheme, Audé endured torture and harsh conditions for the next several years at the Adiala Central Jail before an appeal by then-New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson ultimately led to his release.


Although much of Audé’s story was previously related on an episode of National Geographical Channel’s “Locked Up Abroad,” titled “From Hollywood to Hell,” actress-filmmaker Jamielyn Lippman, a longtime friend, felt more needed to be said.

Padding Audé’s first-person account — and those hammy dramatizations — with glowing testimonials from family and friends including José Canseco and, distractingly, the director herself, the overlong hodgepodge proves to be an ordeal in and of itself.


‘3 Years in Pakistan: The Erik Audé Story’

Not rated


Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Playing: Starts Friday, Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood; Oct. 2, VOD