During the Vietnam War a group of American soldiers are given the task of retrieving gold bars from a downed C-47 CIA plane. Soon after arriving at the site, their helicopter crashes. Utilizing the situation the soldiers decide to bury the gold and tell their superiors that the mission was a failure. Decades later Paul(Delroy Lindo), Otis(Clarke Peters), Eddie(Norm Lewis), and Melvin(Isiah Whitlock Jr.) reunite and return to Vietnam. They hope to retrieve the buried treasure and recover the remains of their fallen squad leader, Norman(Chadwick Boseman). Paul’s son David(Jonathan Majors) shows up at the last-minute and the men begin a journey that turns into something more poignant and impactful than simply finding lost gold.
Da 5 Bloods is the next film from critically acclaimed writer and director Spike Lee. A follow-up to 2018’s BlacKkKlansman, Da 5 Bloods continues Spike Lee’s history of making films that deliver a powerful message during important times in our country. While BlacKkKlansman was a dark comedic crime drama, Da 5 Bloods takes a more action oriented approach. It’s also a drama and succeeds tremendously in this area. All 5 of the Bloods are nuanced individuals who came from varied walks of life and led different lives as they’ve gotten older. They are funny, emotional, courageous and flawed humans that share a common bond, being a black regiment of soldiers who served during the Vietnam war. Delroy Lindo’s portrayal of Paul is especially heartbreaking as he effectively displays the devastating effects of PTSD. Spike Lee does a great job pulling no punches in delivering his message while also creating a fantastic action drama.
A minor criticism that I had with Da 5 Bloods is with the slow and somewhat predictable first hour of the film. When compared with the action packed and powerfully emotional last half of film, the first half is left in the shadows. The build up for a film is important but I feel it needed bit more balancing. Also, not a criticism but it would be interesting to get a Vietnamese American’s perspective on the film. The Vietnam war was a turbulent time and hearing different opinions would be rewarding, which makes Da 5 Bloods important as a discussion starter.
Overall, I think Da 5 Bloods is an excellent piece of cinema. Spike Lee’s passion for his message and filmmaking shows in his films and Da 5 Bloods is no exception. The pacing was off due to the action heavy and emotionally powerful last half of the movie, but that doesn’t ruin the experience. I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys action, emotional performances, and films that continue to progress society.
I give Da 5 Bloods 6 out of 6 reels.
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