Spike Lee Comes Through Powerfully With "Da 5 Bloods"; An Exhibit In Race, Politics And War
By Chris "Boogie" Brown
(AllHipHop Features) "Da 5 Bloods" is the latest film by director Spike Lee who is coming off of an Academy Award win for 2018's stellar "Black KKKlansmen". Spike has crafted yet another incredible film here with several different layers to unravel over its sprawling 2.5 hour runtime. This film serves as an intense vietnam war story, a treasure hunt/action film, a complex character study, and a timely commentary surrounding issues of race, oppression, politics, and war-based themes through Spike's lens.
After a fiery opening montage featuring archival footage of Black Leaders from the 60's speaking out against the war intercut with real war footage, the film jumps into gear. The movie follows four VietNam fighters: "Paul" (Delroy Lindo), "Melvin" (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.), "Eddie" (Norm Lewis) & "Otis" (Clarke Peters). These men forged a Brotherhood when they served together back in Vietnam and unite back together in present-day for a purpose.
In a current day setting, the men, joined by Paul's son, return to Vietnam nearly 50 years later to search for the remains of their squad leader, "Stormin' Norman" (Chadwick Boseman). In addition, they are looking to locate a treasure trunk of gold bars they obtained during the war and buried with the intention of returning to retrieve one day.
While the action and quest for the treasure alone make for exciting viewing, what's even more fascinating to watch is the dialogue, diatribes, debates and thoughtful conversations that unfurl on Black Soldiers serving in Vietnam, Race in America and how the trauma of the war has taken a toll on the four veterans. In addition, it's also interesting to see how their presence alone back in Vietnam opens old wounds as they encounter old memories and characters from their time there.
The film has various subplots and jumps between timelines of the present-day and the era of the Vietnam War. This storytelling structure works well, and while I understand what Spike is doing with a certain choice in the Vietnam scenes, I can also see how it could be a distraction or temporarily throw someone off from the story at hand. In terms of the action throughout "Da 5 Bloods", it's handled with competent care, is full of tension, violence, and portrayed in a realistic way.
Spike's distinct directorial style is on full display here as he continues to blend a mix of real & archived footage into the film, utilizes well-timed close-up shots, as well as showcasing his signature filmaking technique: "the dolly shot". One other effective tool Spike used was that he filmed the movie in three different aspect ratios. The dimensions of various sequences you're looking at change depending on the mood, tone, or level of emotion involved.
"Da 5 Bloods" has a wonderful score, a soulful soundtrack (thanks to Marvin Gaye) and features amazing performances across the board from the whole cast. In particular, a long time Spike Lee collaborator, Delroy Lindo, gives a career-best performance as a veteran with PTSD that simply can't be overlooked. As for Spike Lee, he is on top of his game and continues to solidify his status as one of Hollywood's all-time great directors. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see this film receive several Award Nominations, including "Best Picture", a "Best Director" nomination for Lee and a "Best Actor" nomination for Delroy Lindo.
"Da 5 Bloods" is a moving film that features action, emotion, sharp dialogue, great acting, and poignant commentary on the issues of race that are as timely and relevant today as they've ever been. This one comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Check it out on Netflix right now!