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Netflix premieres eye-opening docu-series ‘Drug Lords’

February 19, 2018

 

ANDREW BELL
Sports Editor | agb022@latech.edu

 

Generally, documentaries can be a little conservative as to what they include in their coverage of the subjects, but for someone who is looking for a shocking portrayal of the harsh realities of drug dealers across the world with little to no boundaries, “Drug Lords” is for you.

 

The four-part series depicts a unique drug gang or cartel in every episode, exposing the different aspects of the narco game from the U.S. to Colombia, South America to Australia. Polarizing names like Pablo Escobar and Frank Lucas are included in the series, catching the eye of the casual audience, considering the global popularity that those two names evoke just on the surface.

 

They interview the one and only Frank Lucas, an original American drug trafficker who is most renowned for the portrayal of his life in the movie “American Gangster” by Denzel Washington. His dominant personality and openness provides a well constructed and in-depth interview about the shockingly horrific details of his decisions, the logistics of heroin trafficking and the inevitable consequences.

 

Not only was Lucas interviewed, but for every episode there was an larger-than-life figure who provided behind-the-scenes type quotes to truly understand the nature of what was going on.

 

“Drug Lords” included dramatized reenactments of the stories being told by random actors, which in most cases were unique and fascinating, like reenacting the brutal and violent acts that these famous criminals committed.

 

However, the reenactments became a little much at times, when they would act out unnecessary situations that could have simply been explained by the interview subjects. The audience didn’t necessarily need to see the same acted scene of fake Pablo Escobar smoking a cigar six times throughout the first episode, for example. But overall, the reenactments were interesting and well shot.

 

Arguably the most impressive aspect of the series was the ability to tie episodes one and two together, with the relationship between Pablo Escobar’s cartel and the Rodriguez brothers’ cartel.

 

Both cartels were centered in Colombia, South America-Escobar’s in Medellin and the Rodriguez brothers’ in Cali–and they first had a functional relationship, basically co-owning the drug game in Columbia. But when Escobar declared war against the Colombian government due to extradition laws, he got paranoid and things went sour.

 

Director Mike Welsh does a great job of portraying the empathetic side of the Rodriguez family when Escobar threatens their livelihoods and tries to become the sole drug trafficking business in Colombia, once and for all. It almost makes the audience feel bad for the family full of cartel members and killers. This same tactic is used when depicting the Australian drug family, the Pettingills, who are led by their crime-ridden mom, Kath, and her sociopath son, Dennis.

 

In conclusion, this is a binge-worthy series that should be checked out by crime-story lovers and audience of all kinds, if you enjoy a well-written and entertaining docu-series that makes you cringe and empathize.

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