Blood Road is the first feature to be written, produced, edited, and directed in-house by the U.S. Team of Red Bull Media House. The documentary is described as an “epic demonstration of human potential,” focusing on a woman who goes on an incredible journey to find out more about her past. Blood Road is inspiring and is a conversation starter for those hard topics that everyone wants to avoid.
At only three years old, Rebecca Rusch lost her father, who went missing in action, during the Vietnam War. No one was able to find any traces of his body until 2002 when two of his teeth and dog tags were recovered from an old crash site.
In 2015, Rusch (now a professional cyclist), decided to bike the famous Ho Chi Minh trail in Vietnam in hopes of discovering where her father’s plane crashed. With her biking partner, Nguyen Thanh Huyen, Rusch learns not only about her past but the devastating events that tore this country apart.
Blood Road isn’t merely a sentimental family story; it’s a story about a nation still recovering from a devastating war. Director Nicholas Schrunk is very sensitive about this subject and treats it with respect, especially when it comes to the interviewees. The filmmakers take the time to interview people who were alive during the war and who are still feeling the aftermath. We see a young man who lost his arm and eye because he came across an undetonated cluster bomb; Rebecca and Huyen talk with a woman who lived in a cave for six years during the War until it was safe to come back to her village. These are all very real experiences, and they sometimes take precedence over Rusch’s goal. We may be partaking in her journey, but hearing the Vietnamese’ stories and experiencing their culture proved to be much more interesting.
Nevertheless, the climax of the film is incredibly rewarding. Throughout, the filmmakers sprinkle in excerpts of Rusch’s father’s letters and facts about the Vietnam war. By the time we get to the site, we feel like we know this family so well already. In just 90 minutes, Schrunk creates a very personal story about family and race relations. He spends equal time on Rusch’s story and Vietnamese culture. His very neutral approach sheds light on what the Vietnamese have suffered over the years, and it’s so eye opening. Even if you don’t like sentimental stories, watch Blood Road anyway. The view alone is worth it.