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Blood Diamond - action/adventure DVD review
BLOOD DIAMOND rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly
Director: Edward Zwick   Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD release: 20 March 2007   Runtime: 143 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, NTSC
DVD Features: Subtitles (English, Spanish, French), Audio Tracks (English, Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish, Dolby Digital 5.1; French, Dolby Digital 5.1), Commentary by director Edward Zwick

It is 1999 in Sierra Leone. The country is in the midst of a horrific civil war with the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front, or RUF, fighting the government forces. Ruthless and brutal, the RUF sweep the countryside looting, killing and hacking off limbs.

In a quiet village in Sierra Leone, it is early dawn. Fisherman Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) is up and getting ready to send his son, Dia, off to school. A school means an education that might help Dia live a life of comfort and dignity. Already Solomon has dreams for Dia: he wants him to grow up to be a doctor.

These dreams are soon shattered as their village is targeted by the RUF. Young boys and men are either killed, maimed or captured. Although lucky to be alive, those captured must either fight with the RUF or work on diamond fields, panning diamonds from water. These diamonds are the sold to buy weapons to fight the civil war.

Danny Archer (Leonardo Di Caprio) is a white Rhodesian-turned-South African involved in diamond smuggling and arms dealing. He is in cahoots with the Colonel Coetzee (Arnold Vosloo), an army bigwig who, while running army operations as a peacekeeper, is also intricately linked to the arms-diamond trade.

Solomon and Archer come together in their quest for a pink diamond, which Solomon accidently stumbles upon while panning the water. For Solomon, the diamond is a means to save his wife and children - including Dia, who is now as a soldier for the RUF. For Archer, it is his passport out of Africa.

Journalist Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly) wants to expose the nexus between the armed struggle and diamond merchants in Europe and show the world how conflict diamonds are fueling civil wars in Africa. With her help, Solomon and Archer undertake a journey to find their stone.

Although crafting a well-made film, Director Edward Zwick has in parts reached the zenith of melodrama. When the Archer-Solomon duo, along with Dia, are about to escape in a helicopter after finding the diamond, Zwick milks the wounded Archer for some sentimental moments. If this seems too out of place, wait till you see Archer gasping like an asthmatic patient after (more spoilers!!!) being shot and waiting to die, then spouting all those softie dialogues on a phone to Maddy (he carries a satellite phone, in case you were wondering, and he remembers Maddy's cell by heart even though he does have her card, but by this time it's so soaked in his blood that one doubts if anything is legible there). Such words, which might have been very appropriate in a romantic Titanic-like setting, seem totally contrived in the dog-eat-dog, blood and gore world of Sierra Leone.

Also, the distribution of violence at regular intervals throughout the film doesn't seem relevant to the narrative. If it was meant to keep the story from slacking and to convey a feeling of fast pace, that could easily have been achieved by a bit of tight editing. Ultimately, though, a good film and a good message overall.
reviewed by Shampa Chatterjee
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