Review: 9000 Needles DVD

9000 Needles DVD boxSTUDIO: Bigfoot Entertainment | DIRECTOR: Doug Dearth
RELEASE DATE: 2/22/2011 | PRICE: DVD $16.99
SPECS: PG-13 | 83 min. | documentary

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

There has been a lot of debate about the health care system in America over the last few years, and although 9000 Needles doesn’t try to play sides, it does give credence to the idea that maybe western medicine isn’t the answer to everything.

9000 NeedlesThe documentary follows Devin Dearth, a husband, businessman and former bodybuilder, whose life was changed when he suffered a stroke caused by a bleed in his brain stem. That left him paralyzed, unable to walk, with difficulty breathing, compromised vision and the inability to care for himself or his family. Insurance did its part, paying for the hospitalization and what it deemed as an appropriate amount of time in rehabilitation, but — and here’s where the film gives its statement on the U.S. health care system — the insurance stops paying before Devin is fully rehabilitated, even though he’s making progress. (Apparently the amount of coverage was based on what would be given to elderly people, as they are most likely to have a stroke.)

So Devin does something that many American politicians tell us we should never do: he went outside for help. After his brother Doug, the documentary’s director, told Devin about a woman who suffered the same type of stroke as him and is now walking, talking and leading a normal life thanks to treatment in China, Devin’s family decides its worth a try.

For six weeks, Devin stays in China in what looks like a hotel room (no sterile and impersonal hospital room) and is treated with acupunture among other treatments. Seeing the needles get pushed in and out of Devin’s muscles made us cringe, but then we also see the results: Devin starts to be able to lift his legs and, by the end of six weeks, can walk with help. The change is inspirational.

Doug’s documentary doesn’t inject itself into the health care argument, merely presenting the facts of his family’s experience with their insurance company. And it’s not heavy handed in its portrayal of the benefits of the Chinese treatment. Indeed, it offers it with a healthy dose of skepticism, letting Devin’s progress tell the story and leaving the viewer to make up their own mind.

The independent film isn’t as polished as such Hollywood docs as Inside Job or The Cove, but its content is still compelling.

The DVD doesn’t have any special features, but text at the end of 9000 Needles informs us that Devin planned to go back to China to continue treatment, and we would have liked to see an update.


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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.