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Manda Bala

15 customer reviews

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(Apr 08, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

DVD Special Features:

Audio Commentary with Director and Producers

Additional Scenes: The S.U.D.A.M. Scheme; Tricking of the Frogs, Egg of Columbus; The Complete Ear Reconstruction Surgery; Singing to the Frogs, Bulletproof Glass: A Love Story, The Helicopter Pads of Sao Paulo

Spanish Subtitles

Manda Bala, Jason Kohn's first feature, is a strikingly beautiful and well-constructed documentary about cycles of violence and how it affects both victims and perpetrators. Filmed in Sao Paulo and banned in Brazil, the film consists of segments in which victims of kidnapping, politicians, policemen, and criminals are interviewed about crime and corruption in Brazil. Although it contains nearly surreal content, so shocking is it to discover this rampant criminal activity, its intelligent, cohesive portrayal of the situation avoids morbidity. English translators sit with interviewees, relaying in chilling detail stories that defy logic. Interviewee Christina recalls atrocities inflicted upon her by kidnappers, while footage of her miraculously talented plastic Surgeon, Dr, Juarez Avelar, shows how he helps those scarred. Mr. M, a businessman, enlists in a course about driving one's bulletproof car, while Magrinho, a masked drug trafficker, discusses the Robin Hood ideal behind kidnapping. Though no direct solutions are proposed, Manda Bala points fingers at corrupt politicians, illustrating how their greed leads to civilian poverty, and how this destitution leads to crime. --Trinie Dalton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jader Barbalho, Claudio Fonteles, Helbio Dias, Juarez Avelar, Paulo Lamarao
  • Directors: Jason Kohn
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: English, Portuguese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: WEA
  • DVD Release Date: April 8, 2008
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0012OSGV8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,496 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Manda Bala" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By James LeJeune on March 26, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
If Tarantino made documentaries, this is what they'd look like. Beautifully lensed, perfectly edited, and laced throughout with a killer soundtrack of brazillian tunes, this movie grabs you from the first moment and captivates till the last frame. Rather than beating you over the head with it's message, or concocting a bogus narrative to tell a specific story, instead, Manda Bala interweaves numerous characters and their various roles in the drama of Sao Paulo's infamous daily kidnappings. These interwoven tales are so expertly layered that the filmmakers intended conclusions appear innescapable. It's a simply brillant piece of documentary work that everyone should see.
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Format: DVD
Manda Bala (Send A Bullet) exposes the vast extent of corruption and crime in Brazil. This film is definitely not for the faint of heart; there are some graphic images including reconstructive surgeries. Nevertheless, Manda Bala is strong and it drives its point home very well. Director Jason Kohn has done a marvelous job with this film; and more people should see it. The cinematography is excellent.

In order to expose the full extent of the problem with crime and corruption in Brazil; this documentary has quite a few interviews with people who each explain their views regarding the situation. We meet a criminal mastermind who has his own organization kidnapping people and holding them for millions of dollars in ransom, cutting off their ears to show he's not about to return his victims until the family pays the ransom and the cops stay out of the way. This criminal tries to explain away his bad deeds by telling the interviewing team that he is in fact a modern day Robin Hood who helps the impoverished people in his slum by providing them with propane and medicine whenever they need it. We also get an extensive interview with a man called Diniz, who chose his frog farm over his former wife. Diniz is apparently in cahoots with a remarkably corrupt politician who has held every political office in Brazil except the presidency, Jader Barbalho. No matter what happens people like Diniz and Jader Barbalho always escape any meaningful or long lasting prosecution and jail time. When Barbalho is in fact arrested after a very lengthy investigation, it's only a very short while before another court finds him not guilty and Barbalho quickly returns to public life with his eyes set on getting back his political power.

Of course, we also meet the "good guys." But there are so few of them!
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Format: DVD
Manda Bala tackles some very difficult themes in a way that is factual yet palatable enough to draw an audience into the story. Kidnapping and human trafficking have increasingly been in the public eye in recent years. These traumatic crimes take an incredible toll on victims and society at large. This documentary centers on Brazil's crown city, Sao Paolo. There the wealthy live in proximity to a large poor population, creating an environment where a kidnapping epidemic is flourishing. Ultimately, poverty increases the incentive for the poor to turn to kidnapping as a means to economic survival.

Yet first time director Jason Kohn presents this dark reality with stylistic and slick imagery and music. This dichotomy mirrors the irony of such a grim problem plaguing one of the most beautiful and alluring countries in the world.

Sao Paolo has about 20 million inhabitants, which is more than twice the size of the NY metropolitan area in terms of population. Combined with the fact that the anti-kidnapping unit is only 80 men strong, the authorities are simply too overwhelmed to prevent and respond to these incidents.

Many people associate these problems with Central and South American nations. Yet while Mexico City leads the Western hemisphere in total kidnappings per city, many people would be surprised to learn that Phoenix, Arizona has recently become the number two city in terms of kidnapping incidents. So this documentary highlights a problem that is relevant for Brazil as well as for the USA.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Compay on March 29, 2010
Format: DVD
Director Jason Kohn does an amazing job demonstrating the tie that binds a variety of strangers in Sao Paolo, from frog farmers and plastic surgeons, to kidnapping victims and the city's police. It's the butterfly effect at it's darkest.

The documentary paints an amazing portrait of Sao Paolo, whose class system seems largely the result of centuries of corruption. One of the most interesting aspects of the film is a comparison that is unusually never directly pointed out. The frogs being farmed are cooped up, and will occasionally eat one another. In a film highlighting people living in a crime-ridden and impoverished city, the subtle comparison fits perfectly.

The real footage of kidnap victims is totally raw, and the interview with the kidnapper is both profound and gritty. The documentary is shot and framed well, and offers some amazing views of the good and bad that Sao Paolo has to offer. If you enjoy a documentary that makes you think, you should absolutely add Manda Bala to your collection.
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