Four African American Vietnam veterans reunite in Vietnam. Their goal is to retrieve the body of their fallen squad leader and to find a gold fortune they hid during the war.
Director: Spike Lee
Cast: Delroy Lindo, Jonathon Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Melanie Thierry, Paul Walter Hauser, Jean Reno
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, grisly images, and pervasive language
Fun Fact: Spike Lee’s first production for Netflix
Da 5 Bloods is a first for many categories for this site. For starters it is the first film that I have posted a review on day of release. Second it is the first Spike Lee film that I have done a review as well. Lee has a rich filmography and I do not know why I have not posted a review from him, but hey a first is not bad either. I am a big history guy as it has always fascinated me growing up and even after school. The Vietnam War is still a controversial subject even to this day and it is for good reason. I could go on about what had happened, but this is a film review and let us get talking about the film.
I loved this movie for many reasons. When I heard that it was going to be released to Netflix, I had an anticipation for it. For some reason I kept telling myself that I have to see this movie and it has been quite a while since I have had that feeling for a new release. Production values are high as it is a creative work of art. The transition from the modern day to the Vietnam War was a nice touch. The modern-day scenes are in your standard screen and in HD while the flashback scenes have a nice feel to the time it was based in. It felt like I was in that time era when we have some nicely shot action scenes of war. The cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel gives us clean action shots and beautiful shots of the landscape. The film was shot on location in Vietnam, Thailand, and various other areas in that region. That is another thing that makes the film stand out other than being in front of a green screen. It has an authentic feel to it. Terence Blanchard has some awesome original music that elevates tension when it is needed or brings out the more subtle moments between the characters. Throw in some classic Marvin Gaye songs and it all balances out.
Spike Lee was a co-writer on the script along with three other writers. The story had been in development since 2013. The final product is lengthy as it runs at two and a half hours for the final film. Lee’s direction and writing makes the film not feel long as everything flows smoothly. There are many things going on during the film that will keep you invested that it flies by quickly. There are many memorable moments from white knuckle tension to surprises. There is one scene that caught me off guard that my jaw was open for a few minutes. Something happened to a character that I liked, and it came out of nowhere, but it was that good out of nowhere that makes the scene effective. You would need to see it to believe it and get the effect that I got out of it.
The cast was my favorite part of the film. All of the performers bring their A-game and all of the performances are top notch. The chemistry between the former soldiers was fantastic and I loved the scenes where they were just talking. It is like having a reunion between your old friends from high school and yourself. What makes these characters interesting and investing is the way they are written. The Vietnam War left many former soldiers shattered and these characters show that. I felt bad for them as they talked about their struggles during and after the war. Delroy Lindo as Paul was one of my favorite performances of the movies, I have reviewed in 2020. His character arc makes you feel for him. Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, and Isiah Whitlock Jr. play his former squad mates and all of them are fantastic. They have their own demons they need to confront, and you feel for them as well.
Overall, Da 5 Bloods is one of my favorite films that I have reviewed in 2020. The anticipation payed off for me and I suggest you see the film if you have a Netflix account. With everything going on in the world today, it is a relevant piece of art that will make you think. Like I have said before I do not get into various issues on this site, but I will say that it is a powerful film that will make you think things over. Spike Lee’s writing and direction are on point and the production values are high from shooting on location, cinematography, and the music. The switching from modern times to flashback is creative in its transition. The length of the film might scare some people off, but it is a fast-moving picture because there is something interesting going on through the whole feature. The cast has amazing chemistry and I could not get enough of the performances. Academy you better be putting this on your list because it is a high-quality film that deserves the recognition.