Blu-ray Review: ‘DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS’ – An Ambitious Bust From Spike Lee

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Cole Clay // Film Critic


DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS | 124 min | Not Rated
Director: Spike Lee
Cast: Stephen Tyrone Williams, Zaraah Abrahams, Rami Malek and Elvis Nolasco

From Anchor Bay Entertainment and Gravitas Ventures comes the Blu-ray release of Spike Lee’s latest “joint,” DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS.

Lee’s filmography as of late has made us ask several questions, but chief among them is: what the hell? His prestigious yet uneven catalogue of works always tend to spark curiosity from fans and haters alike. His 1989 breakout DO THE RIGHT THING is one of the most (if not the most) important film in the past thirty years.

Zaraah Abrahams is Ganja Hightower  in DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS. Photo courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment / Gravitas Ventures.

Zaraah Abrahams is Ganja Hightower in DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS. Photo courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment / Gravitas Ventures.

Most recently, his remake of OLDBOY was a complete departure from his previous works that coalesce with social commentary and raw emotions. His latest, DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS is out on Blu-Ray today, and although the ambition is prevalent, the film is a head-scratcher that never finds a balance with the religious metaphors posed in the title.

There is a plot somewhere in the mosaic style narrative that follows Dr. Hess Green (Stephen Tyrone Williams), an African Studies professor who is stabbed through the heart by an ancient dagger that causes him to develop an insatiable thirst for blood.

So the cat is out of the bag– Lee has directed a Kickstarter funded vampire movie. This is a dizzying film to watch from start to finish. Somewhere along the way Dr. Green kills a prostitute, while relying on his professorial charm to woo the ex-wife of a deceased colleague named Ganja Hightower (Zaraah Abrahams).

Stephen Tyrone Williams is Dr. Hess Greene in DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS. Photo courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment / Gravitas Ventures.

Stephen Tyrone Williams is Dr. Hess Greene in DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS. Photo courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment / Gravitas Ventures.

Lee is a master at creating social allegories within his films, but they are well-nigh gone when the standing metaphors connecting religion to addiction are never driven home by a fully realized character. Honestly, if the Blu-Ray came with any special features that could provide us curious movie watchers with some sort of insight, it could have connected the dots together in a much more productive fashion. Sadly, however, the home video release comes with zero bonus content.

A shining beacon of light in the film are the deeply saturated, high-definition images Lee employs via the photography. The aesthetic of the film matches well with Bruce Hornsby’s melodic piano driven score tethered with Lee’s images.

DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS is an admirable failure by a legendary filmmaker, but don’t expect too much a change in Lee’s style that is chronically weighed down by his passion to put social issues on the silver screen.

DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS is available on Blu-ray and DVD today.