Da 5 Bloods Movie Review

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Spike Lee is at the helm again directing this latest action thriller – ‘Da 5 Bloods.’ In typical Lee fashion, he’s used a movie genre that is of great interest to many people, and shone the light on the issue of race. There are two sides to this very entertaining movie. It works as a standalone action adventure, as well as serving to bring more attention to the contributions of black soldiers to the Vietnam War.


The premise of the movie is that four Vietnam veterans located a significant portion of gold during their deployment in Vietnam years back. The veterans set out to retrieve this gold many years later in order to use their new found riches to campaign and fund civil rights causes in the US. In the process they also endeavour to bring back the remains of their fallen comrade and leader.


The stars of Da 5 Bloods are Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr and Norm Lewis. Chadwick Boseman plays the role of the squadron leader.





The Good


First and foremost, Da 5 Bloods is a very competent and entertaining action thriller. In their search for gold, our protagonists run into various conflicts, including the realisation that they’re not the only folks sniffing around for the prize. It turns out that the veterans are now in a different kind of war in Vietnam, with a different end game. In typical action thriller fashion, you’ll find all the shootouts and action set pieces you’d expect in a movie like this. None of it feels overdone or clichéd, and it all works with the narrative of ‘Da 5 Bloods.’





As mentioned, Da 5 Bloods also works as a piece of work designed to bring attention to the issue of race. Various sound bites are used from historical figures like Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King to highlight the contributions and struggles of black people in society in general. Character dialogue is also used to bring light to the fact that 30% of front line soldiers in the Vietnam War were made up of black soldiers. A fact we rarely learn about. The issue of war is used as a metaphor for the real life struggles minorities face on a daily basis, and the movements utilised to fight these battles. Most recently the Black Lives Matter movement is a prime example of this upward struggle.


The chemistry between our four main characters is excellent. The characters all have diverse personalities ranging from funny, to angry, to guilt ridden. All of the characters appear to understand and empathise with the individual struggles they’re facing. This recognition and acceptance of the different emotional baggage each of them carry is what makes them tick so well, and well equipped to deal with the challenge in front of them.





The Not So Good


There are some subplots the characters embark on, and you can question if these diversions are really needed to tell the story that’s been intended. One of the characters ventures off to visit a prostitute he fell in love with during his previous visit to Vietnam. There’s also exploration of the intimate relationship between two of the main characters specifically. Although these segments undoubtedly work to add depth to the characters and their struggles, it could be argued that such a deep dive into these individual stories isn’t required to such a level in order to deliver on the themes and stories that Lee embarked on exploring.




The Verdict


‘Da 5 Bloods’ is a complete movie which delivers on all fronts, and does it successfully – barring a few minor gripes. The characters are fantastic and work really well with each other, the story is coherent, action set pieces are great, and the manner in which deeper themes are explored is commendable. Another home run for Spike Lee.



Judge's Score

8


 

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