Directed By: Peter Rajesh Joachim
Written By: Stevie Jay and Peter Rajesh Joachim
Staring: Kassandra Santos, Stevie Jay, Amanda Barker |
Blood Empires is an independently produced crime drama focused on street level gangsters, cops and the middle class families that are affected by having loved ones on both sides of the law. At its heart the film is about individuals grasping to hang on to there humanity while their professions strip it away. The film seems to ask if people who are involved in such brutal lives can find and maintain love.
Less can be more. If there is one thing I can say about the visual style of the film.... its in no way restrained. The film opens with a 3 or 4 minute slow motion sequence that leads to an execution in front of a church. The droning organ music and slow motion let us know where the scene is heading as soon as it starts but it takes a while to get there. We the audience are one step ahead of the film and when the inevitable happens, the scene has lost its potential impact due to a stylistic choice. The same thing can be said about the make up and effects in the film. I would have enjoyed them in smaller doses. This is something quite common in first time directors. They want to throw everything they know how to do at the screen and sometimes lose sight of audience in the process.
The film has interesting compositions and good performances especially when you consider it had a 12 day shooting schedule.While Stevie Jay and Kassandra Santos are perfectly capable in their leading roles it was Jackie Laidlaw who really pulled me into the film. She gives a subtle but engaging performance that really highlighted the films strengths. Blood Empires is at its best in its quiet, human moments. When the film is focused on character work it excels. Its clear this film is influenced by 70's films like Death Wish, The French Connection and Serpico but it feels more comfortable when it heads into Five Easy Pieces or Rocky territory.
There is a lot to like about this film. Its in no way a perfect film but its certainly an interesting one for a first time filmmaker. Blood Empires is currently being submitted to festivals and I understand Joachim is putting together his second feature. With this film he has grabbed my attention and I'm curious to see whatever he does next. If you don't mind a film that's a little rough around the edges I'd give this one a shot.