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Worth A Look47.62%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 4.76%

4 reviews, 18 user ratings

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Bus 174
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by Chris Parry

"'To protect and serve'... and blow your face off with a shotgun."
4 stars

Take one bus, ten passengers, a drug-addicted street kid with a gun and a couple of hundred of Rio's finest, and what have you got? A situation, that's what. Bus 174 documents the real-life events of summer 2000 when a robbery on a Brazilian bus went horribly wrong, and the police sent in to end the situation instead turned it into a nightmare of tragic proportions.Bus 174 may not change your life. In fact, it may not have any long lasting impact on you at all other than to have you say 'oh, that's terrible,' but it is most assuredly a great piece of documentary filmmaking that will surprise, shock and amaze.

Sandro was always a problem child, which probably isn't surprising being as he saw his mother stabbed to death at the age of 5. A series of temporary homes, spells with street gangs, and eventually a nasty addiction to drug sniffing made sure that Sandro would never amount to anything in life, at least not in Brazil, but it was a fateful decision to board a bus a few years ago that put an end to Sandro in a way that couldn't have been predicted.

When the police arrived, the scene was tense but not too tense. A gunman was on a bus holding ten people hostage, waving a gun about and hiding under a towel over his head. Things like this apparently happen fairly often in Rio, to the point where one of the hostages admits to having told someone on her cellphone, "tell the boss I'll be late. I'm being held up."

But there are many pieces to the puzzle of Bus 174. There's the drugs that the gunman has clearly been getting into. There's the family history of the gunman where nobody has ever really stuck their neck out for the kid, instead turning him out and letting him live on the streets. There's the ineptitude of the police force, who don't have enough people to keep back the crowd, and somehow didn't bring any walkie talkies. And there's the press, slowly getting closer and closer to the bus in the bid to be 'on the spot', while the police make no effort to move them.

The gunman, already scared out of his wits and sure that he'll be killed by the police, just as his streetkid buddies were ina rcent massacre, isn't about to surrended. The cops, with high-ranking politicians on the cellphone barking orders at them, aren't giving in to any demands. And the crowd just gets bigger and the hostages get more and more freaked out.

I's going to be a long night.

Bus 174 follows this night, interspersing footage of the event with interviews and background information that paints Brazil's law enforcement bodies as clueless public servants just trying to get by on below minimum wage, as well as casting a long light across Brazil's ongoing problems with the burgeoning streetkid population. Bus 174 isn't just a news report or an investigation of a bad scene - it's much more than that. This is a film that shows all sides of the equation - police, gunman and hostages - stuck in a web that is built by those in high society and permitted by those in the middle and lower classes.

The cops are quite willing to end this situation quickly using one of the many snipers around the bus, but politicians fear such a thing making them look bad on the evening news. The gunman wants the crowd of people pushed back, but the cops don't have the manpower. The Captain is forced to coordinate his troops with hand signals since there are no radios to use. The hostages try to argue their way out of trouble, with some even gaining their release through diplomacy and not violence.

But in the end, things always turn to shit. Especially when the police are involved.

A fascinating documentary that shows you the side of Rio you don't see during Carnival, Bus 174 very nearly puts you in the middle of a hostage situation for the first time. Some of the footage is startling, some of it comedic, but there can be no doubt that you will not see the end coming at all.

When you see Bus 174 and take in all that went on, I challenge you to ask yourself a simple question... could it happen here?

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originally posted: 09/29/03 11:21:21
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 San Francisco Film Festival. For more in the 2003 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/06/14 ezjwvRnQIR JyEHkzZHzFNqkMOGcCC 4 stars
4/12/10 Sharon Ann Chambers What's the point of the Christus statue 5 stars
11/10/06 William Goss Perpetually depressing look at unfortunate reality of abandoned Brazilian youth. 4 stars
5/25/06 Taylor Bees Rodney Hale is stupid. This sucked. 1 stars
12/21/04 Naka Absolutely amazing; a worthy companion to "City of God". 5 stars
11/19/04 Rodney Hale I rarely am hypnotized by a documentary, but this one will suck you in like no other. 5 stars
9/24/04 Kathy i was appalled by how poorly trained the police were and how disgusting the jails are. 5 stars
5/16/04 MKM This movie sucks my saggy smelly nut sack 1 stars
5/02/04 John Peters The opening shots showing the two sides of the Rio mountain from the air, were remarkable. 5 stars
4/21/04 Vicky The most gripping, edgy documentary this whole year 5 stars
4/01/04 John Williams A shocking doc that Americans should see and appreciate what advantages they really have. 5 stars
1/20/04 michel very shocking and mesmerizing documentary! 5 stars
1/01/04 mio Awesome 5 stars
11/11/03 Yansa Mira Toussaint Excellent Film!!! 5 stars
10/06/03 wczoraj na WFF wspanialy-szkoda,ze trudno bedzie go u nas zobaczyc 5 stars
7/28/03 James Benzinger Haunting and moving. Don't miss this one. 5 stars
6/12/03 William Garcia Potent, great filmmaking, even better analysis of a real life event. 5 stars
6/10/03 leo GREAT.... GO SEE IT TODAY 5 stars
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  08-Oct-2003 (R)
  DVD: 20-Jul-2004



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