Let me begin by saying that I’m all for a doc that can open eyes. Learning about injustices, atrocities and what is hidden below the surface makes for some good subject matter. The problem with the overly caustic "Death By China" is that it’s relentless in displaying and examining problems, but in turn offering up little in terms of aggressive change.
Back in 2001, China joined the World Trade Organization and the US fully opened its markets to China. Since then American Factories have all but disappeared, no products seemed to be made in the US anymore and we have become flooded and inundated with a host of below standard products that are made in China.
There is a gaggle of good points within "Death by China" – no argument here. I agree that company CEO’s have certainly done their own amount of damage to the morale and job security of the American worker and there’s no doubt we are getting taken by the unfair practices surrounding our free trade agreement with China. The problem with this doc is not how vigorous the solid accusations fly, but how little is done with equal fire to ignite change. Meaning unlike hands on folks with a similar strong style like Morgan Spurlock and Michael Moore, Director Peter Navarro never confronts anyone like the folks who made this agreement happen, American head honchos who benefit or even the Chinese businessmen themselves to get answers and possible results. Instead his doc simply spews its facts to the equally apathetic viewer – no answers or solutions given. At one point when discussing the subject of Chinese product friendly Walmart, it’s hinted at that the average starving American barely making ends meat should possibly throw down a gauntlet and stop using their cheap prices all together. I’m all for ways average folks can help, but putting the burden on the shoulders of the lesser among us is the sign of someone who’s afraid to confront the real guys who made it all possible.
The biggest doc blunder by far is the selection of actor Martin Sheen as the films’ narrator. As someone who is certainly not starving for cash, has a son who shamelessly flaunts his own success and power publicly and himself has been blessed with a long career as a working actor, he’s a hard guy to take advice on going without from. I’m not just looking for a doc to anger me, but to inspire change. "Death by China" reminded me of those old lifeless elementary school lessons that seemed to go on forever - with one person talking and nobody else listening.
"DEATH BY CHINA" OPENS IN SELECT THEATERS AUGUST 17 FROM AREA 23A RELEASING.
Title: "Death By China"
Cast: Narrated by Martin Sheen
Director: Peter Navarro
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 79 Minutes
Release Company: Area 23A