Movie Reviews: Da 5 Bloods




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     Netflix (2 hrs. 25 min)
     Four African-American Vietnam Vets return to Vietnam to recover the remains of their fallen Squad Leader and a buried treasure.
     Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Melanie Thierry
Bottom Line:

Laurence Washington

I wouldn’t be surprised if Delroy Lindo receives an Oscar nomination for his chilling portrayal of a high-strung Vietnam vet on the edge in Spike Lee’s post-war drama, “Da 5 Bloods.”

Lindo plays Paul, who is accompanied by his estranged son David, (Jonathan Majors), along with three other veterans who travel back to Vietnam some 40 years after the war to search for the remains of their squad leader Stormin’ Norman (Chadwick Boseman), and a cache of missing CIA gold they buried during the conflict.

Lee follows a clichéd riddled Hollywood script that dictates, whenever a close group of friends search for a buried treasure, treachery and greed will eventually overcome them. That plot device is inescapable in these types of In Search of Films for the sake of moving the story along, and to add some tension to the storyline.

However, if you expect Lee to follow the footsteps of those ‘80s Rambo and Chuck Norris films, you’ll be disappointed. In fact, there’s even a scene of dialogue in which the group are poking fun at those: “This Time We Win” films.

Instead of seeing how many things the veterans can blow up, Lee punctuates his story with overtones of race, brotherhood and the effects of  the Vietnam War toward black soldiers, punctuated by the Vietnamese attitudes toward returning American soldiers.
 “Da 5 Bloods,” has Spike Lee’s signature squirm factor and political in-your-face commentary on the black experience – his filmmaking hallmark. Lee does not disappoint using grainy news clips of Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King to give context to black men fighting a war in South East Asia, when they don’t have Civil Rights at home.

Although “Da 5 Bloods” happens present day, it is underscored by a ‘70s soundtrack featuring: Marvin Gaye, The Spinners, Curtis Mayfield, Freda Payne and other artist from that period. Lee also does something unique not found in this modern era of special effects and CGI. He doesn’t change the actor’s present day appearances in flashbacks. Surprisingly it’s not intrusive or jarring, a bold move that totally works.
Mirroring today’s social issues, including the Black Lives Matter movement, “Da 5 Bloods” is a poignant film about black soldiers returning to Vietnam and the social unrest that fills the streets today.

“Da 5 Bloods” is currently streaming on Netflix. Original motion picture soundtrack available on iTunes and Amazon

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