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Review: Da Sweet Blood of Jesus

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus
02.17.2015
3 10

PLOT: Dr. Hess Greene (Steven Tyrone Williams) becomes cursed with a thirst for blood after his deranged assistant stabs him with an ancient African dagger. His new addiction leads to a torrid romance with the widow of his first victim, the beautiful, alluring Ganja (Zaraah Abrahams).

REVIEW: It’s been a rough couple of years for Spike Lee. Universally regarded as one of the preeminent filmmakers of his era, Lee’s had trouble making new films on par with his early revelatory work. MIRACLE AT ST.ANNA was a passion project that went awry, while RED HOOK SUMMER was a self-indulgent mess. Yet, both of those films had enough going on in them to prevent them from being complete disasters. Following an obviously unhappy experience with the flop remake of OLDBOY (which led to him not taking his customary “A Spike Lee Join” credit), the man is back with what the credits proudly call “An Official Spike Lee Joint.” Sadly, this “joint” just might be his worst ever as it’s the only time I’d ever call a Lee film virtually unwatchable (although RED HOOK certainly came close).

A remake of 70’s cult classic GANJA & HESS, DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS is “sort-of” a vampire movie, albeit one stripped of any genre elements or vamp trappings minus the thirst for blood. Once infected, Hess doesn’t go around biting necks, but rather kills his victims and laps up their puddles of blood, almost like a dog. The premise itself is intriguing and the set-up is strong. The first ten minutes or so, where Hess has a conversation with his disturbed research assistant, Hightower (Lee’s regular Elvis Nolasco) before being violently attacked, promises a sophisticated yarn. Yet, once Hess is infected, the movie becomes episodic and unfocused.

Outside of an early scene where Hess picks up a prostitute to feed on (THE WIRE’s Felicia “Snoop” Pearson) most of the action is confined to the ultra-rich Hess’ sprawling Martha’s Vineyard compound. As is customary for a Lee joint, racial and class commentary is paramount, with an early scene featuring a white guest pretty much ordering around the polite, cultured Hess at his own home, demanding he join them by adding some vodka to his cup of blood (which he says is a health shake). Yet, on the whole the film is free of the long, endless-sermons from RED HOOK SUMMER, although Lee seems to hold himself above making simple genre fare, making this come-off like an artsy vehicle that’s only for his most devoted fans (i.e – the ones who contributed to the Kickstarter campaign that funded the movie).

As deadly dull as DA SWEET BLOOD winds up being, there are some good things about it. Williams makes for a cultured, urbane hero, although his struggle is never given much weight until the heavy-handed, religious finale. Likewise, Zaraah Abrahams as the sophisticated, beautiful Ganja feels like a good match for him – although their love-story isn’t really given room to breathe. It’s especially tough to swallow that Ganja would so quickly take up with the man that killed her husband and stuffed his corpse in his wine cellar. Rami Malek’s role as Hess’ adoring manservant also comes off a little thin and even a bit homophobic, with the obviously gay butler constantly shooting catty looks at Ganja (although Malek is quite funny in the wedding scene).

Even still, I have faith that Lee could bounce back if given the right vehicle. DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS is clearly not intended to be a mainstream film, but it feels like a tough slog for anyone - even Lee devotees. Then again, this and RED HOOK SUMMER were done so cost-effectively that maybe Lee, after decades of directing, has earned the right to follow-his-muse and do his own thing, even if it’s at his own peril. Hopefully the next Spike Lee joint will be a little more accessible, as this is pretty much just a curio.

Source: JoBlo.com

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+0
3:04PM on 03/04/2015

Give it up, Spike

So, what you're telling me is Spike Lee actually made a movie that's more boring than RED HOOK SUMMER? Damn, didn't think that was possible. Spike should seriously consider retiring, if this is the best he can muster these days.
So, what you're telling me is Spike Lee actually made a movie that's more boring than RED HOOK SUMMER? Damn, didn't think that was possible. Spike should seriously consider retiring, if this is the best he can muster these days.
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8:46PM on 02/22/2015
Spike Lee is as good as his script. He needs to be paired with a good writer since many of his movies have good premises, but they get lost due to poor writing. For example, "Malcolm X" and "Inside Man" were pretty good movies with pretty good scripts. I'm actually watching "25th Hour" to get another opinion on the film since I've last seen it years prior.
Spike Lee is as good as his script. He needs to be paired with a good writer since many of his movies have good premises, but they get lost due to poor writing. For example, "Malcolm X" and "Inside Man" were pretty good movies with pretty good scripts. I'm actually watching "25th Hour" to get another opinion on the film since I've last seen it years prior.
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6:08PM on 02/18/2015

Fuck Spike Lee

Who continues to give this racist hack money to make movies?
Who continues to give this racist hack money to make movies?
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6:55AM on 02/19/2015
in the case of this movie, his fans. It was crowdfunded via kickstarter.
in the case of this movie, his fans. It was crowdfunded via kickstarter.
8:47PM on 02/22/2015
"Who continues to give this racist hack money to make movies?"

That's the question I continually ask whenever I see a Quentin Tarantino film released.
"Who continues to give this racist hack money to make movies?"

That's the question I continually ask whenever I see a Quentin Tarantino film released.
+0
1:48AM on 02/18/2015
Kind of wondering how many more failures of films Spike will make before he stops talking trash. He needs to stop making trash movies before he continues to open his mouth.
Kind of wondering how many more failures of films Spike will make before he stops talking trash. He needs to stop making trash movies before he continues to open his mouth.
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12:51AM on 02/18/2015
"... I think it's reaching the point where I'm getting reviewed, not my films."
"... I think it's reaching the point where I'm getting reviewed, not my films."
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4:05PM on 02/17/2015
Why is Jesus in the title when the plot has nothing to do with Jesus?
Why is Jesus in the title when the plot has nothing to do with Jesus?
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6:41PM on 02/17/2015
I get a thumbs down for just asking that question???
I get a thumbs down for just asking that question???
6:53PM on 02/17/2015
Yeah I don't get it either, I gave you an up vote to get you to zero lol.
Yeah I don't get it either, I gave you an up vote to get you to zero lol.
9:32PM on 02/17/2015
Thank ya. ;-)
Thank ya. ;-)
11:48PM on 02/17/2015
Because Spike is trying to be edgy. That's what he tries to do to compensate for his mediocre films.
Because Spike is trying to be edgy. That's what he tries to do to compensate for his mediocre films.
10:18AM on 02/19/2015
i bring you up to +1 lol for now hopefully
i bring you up to +1 lol for now hopefully
+2
3:33PM on 02/17/2015

Exactly who is this "universe" you're talking about?

Spike made a couple of decent (albeit racially biased) movies that told a narrative popular among the the wine-sipping set. Where exactly are the films that make him among the "greatest of his era." Because I'd love to compare his successes with those of the "other" great directors of the 80s & 90s.

And when you say "rough couple of years," I'm assuming you mean the last 14 where he hasn't had a hit.
Spike made a couple of decent (albeit racially biased) movies that told a narrative popular among the the wine-sipping set. Where exactly are the films that make him among the "greatest of his era." Because I'd love to compare his successes with those of the "other" great directors of the 80s & 90s.

And when you say "rough couple of years," I'm assuming you mean the last 14 where he hasn't had a hit.
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5:40PM on 02/17/2015
Well said
Well said
6:52PM on 02/17/2015
You mean EXTREMELY well said!
You mean EXTREMELY well said!
9:33PM on 02/17/2015
"Racially biased?" ...what on Earth are you talking about?! Just because the white guy isn't the hero in all of his movies and he actually shows what life is like for black folks, doesn't make him biased. Mo Better Blues, Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, 25th Hour, Clockers, 4 Little Girls....more than a couple "decent" films, kid.
"Racially biased?" ...what on Earth are you talking about?! Just because the white guy isn't the hero in all of his movies and he actually shows what life is like for black folks, doesn't make him biased. Mo Better Blues, Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, 25th Hour, Clockers, 4 Little Girls....more than a couple "decent" films, kid.
11:47PM on 02/17/2015
Look Halo, I'm going to ignore your weak attempt at a jab and point out that everything you just cited (other than Do The Right Thing and Malcolm X) underperformed at the box office. Mo Better Blues was barely fresh (73%), and made a whopping $16 million at the box office. Seriously, if you consider that "among the best of his era," you feel free to call me all the condescending names you'd like.....you just made my point for me.
Look Halo, I'm going to ignore your weak attempt at a jab and point out that everything you just cited (other than Do The Right Thing and Malcolm X) underperformed at the box office. Mo Better Blues was barely fresh (73%), and made a whopping $16 million at the box office. Seriously, if you consider that "among the best of his era," you feel free to call me all the condescending names you'd like.....you just made my point for me.
5:11AM on 02/18/2015
25th Hour and Inside Man are great films. 25th Hour is a masterpiece. His early works like Do The Right Thing are cemented in the history of great filmmaking so I will say really he's been on a bad streak after Inside Man. But he has talent and a voice.
25th Hour and Inside Man are great films. 25th Hour is a masterpiece. His early works like Do The Right Thing are cemented in the history of great filmmaking so I will say really he's been on a bad streak after Inside Man. But he has talent and a voice.
6:12PM on 02/18/2015
I need to watch the 25th Hour again because I don't remember why everyone says it's so good. Inside Man is the movie I wanted to like, but it was just mediocre. All and all I think whatever his contribution to film ends up being has already been done.
I need to watch the 25th Hour again because I don't remember why everyone says it's so good. Inside Man is the movie I wanted to like, but it was just mediocre. All and all I think whatever his contribution to film ends up being has already been done.
3:08PM on 03/04/2015
"I'm assuming you mean the last 14 where he hasn't had a hit."

Actually, INSIDE MAN, which came out in 2006, was a commercial success.
"I'm assuming you mean the last 14 where he hasn't had a hit."

Actually, INSIDE MAN, which came out in 2006, was a commercial success.
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