“Da 5 Bloods” stars Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr., and Chadwick Boseman. Released on Netflix on June 12, 2020, the film has a group of veterans returning to Vietnam to search for their fallen leader and their buried treasure.
The film is directed by Spike Lee, who also directed films such as “Do the Right Thing”, “Malcolm X”, “Inside Man”, and “BlacKkKlansman”. A lot of people have been saying that war is hell, but returning to the place where it all began can be a total nightmare. After winning his first Academy Award for his work on “BlacKkKlansman” two years ago, Spike Lee is returning to the director’s chair once again to helm a joint for Netflix. When it comes to political issues in film such as race relations, no one directs them better than Lee as he has made several classics that represent stories in the African American community and inspire us to respect everyone despite the color of our skins. My family has a strong respect for Lee thanks to his earlier films, but I hadn’t gotten into his filmography until I saw “BlacKkKlansman” a couple of years ago, which is worth checking out if you haven’t watched it already. That film alone made me realize how great he is in terms of how he handles this tricky subject matter. This was one of the reasons why this latest Netflix drama has immediately captured my attention. That, and the fact that its release is somehow well-timed with the ongoing “Black Lives Matter” movement in a good way, unlike the other Netflix film we got last weekend. It definitely has the makings of being a film that everyone will be talking about for a long time, but is it something that I would recommend? As both a film reviewer and a supporter of equality, I would have to say yes.
This is another film that combines a poignant story involving one or more characters from the African American community with its impactful themes that reflect on today’s society. “Da 5 Bloods” has a plot that’s as simple as it can get. Four African American veterans return to the site of the Vietnam War to bring back the remains of their dead leader and recover the treasure that they buried during the war. That’s it. But in reality, this film is more than just a straightforward quest. It’s more of a calling. Underneath a well-made and emotional story about a brotherhood torn apart by greed and trauma is an underlying message that demands us to make a change and support everyone who sacrificed their lives during the difficult times regardless of their skin color. Combine those things with Spike Lee’s ambition behind the camera and the film’s cast, and you got “Da 5 Bloods”, which is not only the first great film I’ve seen in the new decade, but also the most important and brutally honest film of 2020. I am not kidding when I said “brutally honest”, by the way. This film has its share of grisly violence and unnerving imagery that could leave some people feeling uncomfortable, and with a two-and-a-half-hour long runtime, it can be pretty tough for them to sit through. Not as tough as Ari Aster’s “Midsommar”, but tough nonetheless. But they were shown as a source of purpose rather than as entertainment value, so I got no problems with that. I do feel that the film could’ve been a couple of minutes shorter, and that there were a couple of scenes that slowed it down a bit, but other than that, it kept my attention all the way through thanks to its characters and its riveting screenplay. The main cast, ranging from Lindo to Boseman, delivered some great performances from start to finish, with Lindo being the proper standout as Paul, the member of the Vietnam veterans who is suffering from PTSD. This guy knows how to envision a person who looks and sounds like he’s been through a lot during the Vietnam War, and it shows. I’ve heard a lot of great things from people about Lindo’s performance, and based on what I saw, they weren’t wrong. I also have to admit that Paul’s character arc did its job in making me feel bad for him instead of making me want to punch him in the face. I also want to point out the film’s cinematography, most specifically the changing aspect ratios. Once you get used to these transitions, there’s a good chance that you might appreciate the cinematography for representing the past and the present as well as its authenticity, just like me.
Overall, Spike Lee has successfully made another call to action with “Da 5 Bloods”, a deeply convincing and ambitious film that represents brotherhood in the midst of greed and trauma and honors the purpose of the current events we are facing today. Filled with a stunning cast, Spike Lee’s impressive direction, and a story that’s both thought-provoking and enthralling, the film marks another reason why Lee is one of the voices that demands to be heard, even during this complicated time. Despite some of its unnerving imagery and its runtime, I would highly recommend this Netflix film to anyone who’s a fan of Spike Lee’s other works and to those who are waiting impatiently for a good film to be released on the streaming service.