Another addition to a long list of action flicks based on World War II, Blood & Gold is the latest war film from Germany and produced by Netflix that blends action and treasure hunting adventure with the tropes of the spaghetti western.
While many other war films usually come with an emotional theme that explores the true horrors of war, Blood & Gold seems to be a movie with sheer explosive chaos, akin to Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (2009). While the plot can be a bit simple and loses impact in the final act, and is predictable in scope, the real draw of Blood & Gold comes rather from exciting fights and well choreographed action sequences. It's bloody, it's brutal, destructive, and it all makes for an entertaining viewing experience.
The film is set in the final days of World War II. It's about a rumour of 31 bars of gold hidden away in the small town of Sonnenberg, and there's a few different parties wanting ownership including some Waffen-SS soldiers. Then there's a German soldier named Heinrich (Robert Maaser) who is fed up with years of battle, and decides to find his long lost daughter. However, he is captured by the SS troop who are in town in search of the stash of gold. Left to die by hanging, he is saved by a local woman named Elsa (Marie Hacke). Heinrich then teams up with Elsa and a small band of resistance fighters trying to outrun the Nazis.
Blood & Gold features decent production values with really good costumes and sets. And what especially stood out to me were the special effects, whether it's the blood and gore of the action pieces or the destructive explosions. This movie has a ton of action scenes where Heinrich and his companions do battle against Nazi soldiers, all of which are impressively choreographed. Those who're looking to see gruesome killing sequences should enjoy this one. The movie has everything from guns and grenades to pitchforks and cyanide pills, all used in creative, almost Tarantino-esque fashion.
Despite not having much character development, the movie still did quite a good job at creating different supporting characters. They're not exactly original as they very much follow the binary nature of good versus evil, but some of them have enough backstory to make them more interesting, and the movie isn't afraid to hurt or even kill them unexpectedly, which raises the stakes of the story. My favourite character by far is one of the main villains, von Sternfeld (Alexander Scheer), whose character has a nice balance between his menacing commanding presence and his disturbing face mask, but he also has a level of delusion that puts him at odds with his troops.
Rambo First Blood (1982) or Clint Eastwood's western classic like Hang 'Em High (1968) kept popping up in my head when I was watching this, where a man seeks revenge on a group of vigilantes after they punish him and leave him for dead. I did enjoy how they have woven the spaghetti western motifs into their storytelling -- a group of dangerous outsiders take over a small isolated town with hidden treasure up for grabs, a showdown in a church, all capped off with a selection of western genre music to enhance the mood.
However, apart from the action aspect, the gold hunt subplot of Blood & Gold doesn't always work. There's a story about a group of civilians who are also searching for the gold, and their stories are quite dull as they tend to slow down the pacing of the movie. In fact, the pacing ends up being the weakest part. Kicking things into high gear in the first and second acts, the film then loses steam in the last part, and that just doesn't feel as satisfying.
As a war movie, Blood & Gold is by far not the best film ever made. But the simple approach to storytelling is what makes it work as well as it does. The movie doesn't try to compete with other great war movies, or give the audience messages regarding the morality of humanity in war time. It's just a story of a man trying to find his lost daughter while getting caught up in a hunt for gold. It is great for more than a casual watch, but it may not be something that you revisit more than once.
Robert Maaser as Heinrich.
- Blood & Gold
- Starring Robert Maaser, Marie Hacke, Alexander Scheer
- Directed by Peter Thorwarth
- Now streaming on Netflix