Blood Diamond (2006) is a harrowing film set during the Sierra Leone war that centers on how the Mende people are treated as slaves and forced to mine diamonds under inhumane conditions. The movie is both a criticism of the civil unrest in the region and the diamond industry, as it is later revealed that the diamonds that locals are forced to mine are sold in wealthy Western nations by mining corporations like the one led by Rudolph van de Kaap, one of the movie’s big bad, if not the big bad.
That’s why it might come as a surprise that the movie wasn’t very well-received. While Blood Diamond may seem like it could be film awards bait, the film received mixed reviews. It only received a 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was even described by one critic as a film that diamond company De Beers doesn’t have to worry about.
But critics aren’t everyone, and if several online film forums are to go by, a lot of people enjoyed Blood Diamond and had their views changed by it. If you’re one of the many people who loved Blood Diamond, here are some movies that are just like it.
1. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
The 2004 film Hotel Rwanda features Iron Man star Don Cheadle in the role of Paul, a cool and collected hotel manager. Paul is a family man, he’s a good father and a good husband to his wife Tatiana. But the inner world that is his family life is put under pressure when the Huti tribe, the people that Paul belongs to, begin a genocide on the Tutsi tribe, the tribe his wife belongs to.
As unrest grows in the poor African nation of Rwanda, it becomes increasingly harder to find the luxuries that the hotel’s rich clientele are used to, and that’s without talking about how Paul is now trying to hide Tutsi refugees in the hotel.
If you liked Blood Diamond and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), this is the film you need to watch.
2. Tears of the Sun (2003)
If what you enjoyed about Blood Diamond was the action, check out Tears of the Sun (2003). Set in Nigeria, the movie is a fictionalized version of the Nigerian civil war that centers on a Navy SEAL team sent to rescue the Americans working at a local hospital. All of them refuse to leave, but the team’s leader, played by Bruce Willis, manages to get a doctor to leave with him by promising to take her patients along.
It’s exactly the kind of action film you’d expect with a premise like this and Bruce Willis in a lead role, but the movie manages to be more serious and emotional than your typical action film. The romance, left as a subtext in the movie, doesn’t feel forced just to say that the lead male character got the girl in the end. Both the male and female lead are consummate professionals, putting the people they’re responsible for first, and that makes the entire film much more enjoyable.
3. Beasts of No Nation (2015)
Like Blood Diamond, the 2015 movie Beasts of No Nation is about the Sierra Leone War. There were many child soldier characters shown briefly in Blood Diamond, but in Beasts of No Nation, the child soldier is the star of the show.
Agu’s peaceful village life with his family falls apart when the government is taken down by rebels who later storm the village and kill his family. While his mother and younger siblings were able to leave earlier, Agu is forced to escape and fend for himself. With no other home or family to call his own (and feed him), Agu joins a rebel army
Now, Agu has to grapple with the realities of what he’s forced to do and his identity as a young boy who once lived a normal life with his family. He constantly struggles with his self-perception, so needless to say, this is not a movie for the faint of heart.
4. The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)
The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980) is a comedy about the people of the San tribe that, though lighthearted, talks about how modern civilization corrupts the supposedly backward but otherwise peaceful life of the San. After a glass Coca-Cola bottle begins causing competition between members of the tribe, Xi takes it upon himself to get rid of it.
The journey takes Xi throughout Africa and puts him on the path of people who don’t exactly understand his ways. This results in a lot of amusing misunderstandings.
5. Queen of Katwe (2016)
Queen of Katwe (2016) has Black Panther (2018) star Lupita Nyong’o in the role of an impoverished mother living in the slums of Uganda. Her daughter Phiona has bigger plans for herself and their family.
After being picked up by a coach from a missionary program, Phiona starts playing chess in competitions against affluent students from schools with more resources than hers. It’s a much more inspirational take on the female chess genius of Queen’s Gambit (2020), which features a young girl’s struggle for a better life and determination to represent her community.
6. The Constant Gardener (2005)
The Constant Gardner (2005) centers on a British horticulturalist, hence the title, who goes to Kenya for work with his activist lover. The movie feels like it could be a romance set in Africa until the two find themselves embroiled in politics after an experimental drug results in the deaths of the people it was administered to. The woman decides to submit a report on the unethical practices used by the drug’s manufacturer, Three Bees, together with her colleague.
When she and her colleague turn up dead, it’s up to the horticulturalist to investigate the circumstances of his lover’s death and expose the company.
7. The Last King of Scotland (2006)
Despite its confusing title, The Last King of Scotland is actually a 2006 film about a Scottish ex-pat who moves to Uganda in search of adventure. He meets General Idi Amin, the leader of a military coup who is now leading the country. Amin is a big fan of Scotland, and the two become fast friends. The more the ex-pat learns about Uganda and what Amin is really like, the more he starts to doubt whether he should stand by Amin at all.