Da 5 Bloods review by Bobby Blakey
Spike Lee has a ton of great films under his belt but one of my favorite films in recent years was BlacKkKlansman. Now he is bringing his first film to Netflix with Da 5 Bloods starring Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isaiah Whitlock, Jr., Paul Walter Hauser and Chadwick Boseman. IS this film yet another powerful voice from Lee or will it get lost in the jungle?
Da 5 Bloods follows the story of four African American Vets - Paul, Otis, Eddie, and Melvin - who return to Vietnam. Searching for the remains of their fallen Squad Leader and the promise of buried treasure, our heroes, joined by Paul's concerned son, battle forces of Man and Nature - while confronted by the lasting ravages of The Immorality of The Vietnam War. I was excited to see this film back when I heard about it already, but it seems all the more powerful coming at a time like now with so much racial tension and unrest. On the surface the film’s story feels pretty straight forward as a treasure hunt, but there is so much more here. Anytime you deal with war, especially the Vietnam war there are deeper elements at play than just the fighting in the jungle and this film delves into so many layers of that while still bringing way more violence and action than I had expected.
As the film progresses we are taken on a dual story of them reuniting to look for the gold they had left behind and the story of what happened during that time on the battlefield. I found it odd initially that in the flashbacks outside of Chadwick Boseman’s character all the guys are portrayed by the same cast at the older age with no attempt to de-age them. This threw me for a bit until I understood or at least I believe I did that it was a genius way to show that despite it being years since the war they are mentally still there. Seeing them this way throughout was a great way to really punch home that element to their mental and emotional struggles.
Everyone here is excellent with the lead four really bringing their A game. Each of them get their time to shine and not only are individually excellent but play off each other to perfection. Their dysfunctional brotherly bond helps to push the story forward and allows them to
showcase more depth than you might have expected going in. A couple of the cast have smaller but great roles including Boseman who is pivotal to the tale but not as prominent as I had expected. As a big fan of Paul Walter Hauser I was smiling ear to ear seeing him show up in yet another Spike Lee film alongside Jasper Paakkonen who both appeared together in BlacKkKlansman.
The journey and bond of these guys is obviously the most important aspect of the film, but make no mistake there is plenty of action. I was surprised to how graphic and bloody the action was here complete with war action, land mine and straight up executions. There is nothing pretty or glorified about the violence here and that is exactly the point. Lee wants us to experience what these buys go through in both the war and this new journey and neither are pretty. I loved this film and hope it gets Lee the recognition it deserves because it is truly a brilliant work of art.