Da 5 Bloods Review
'His work is an education on how America has abused Black people; their war is not in Vietnam but in America, the place the bloods call home.'
Four African American veterans Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) and Eddie (Norm Lewis) return to Vietnam to recover the remains of their Captain (Chadwick Boseman). It is not as simple as it all seems - the remaining 4 ‘bloods’ are there to hunt down the promise of buried treasure. A fortune in gold bars which they buried during the war. Paul struggles against his PTSD thinking his old buddies are against him as this film plays out like a typical Shakespearean tragedy.
This film is told through a mix of modern-day scenes as the vets discuss their past and flashbacks to their time in the Vietnam war. Spike Lee (Director) uses a different aspect for the scenes from the Vietnam War giving it a unique realism and authenticity. This is complemented through the character development of the veterans. Delroy Lindo as Paul is fantastic! He plays the role perfectly. The character's deep pain can be seen through his eyes in an incredibly powerful and moving performance. It turns the film into something incredible and drives home the emotional beats in a shattering and moving manner.
Lee uses actual footage – from the war and of civil rights activists alongside photos of fallen soldiers. He contributes to the Black Lives Matter movement in highlighting the abhorrent treatment of African Americans in the war. The disgusting way they were used on the front line over their fellow soldiers. The spliced footage is brilliant! It adds to the powerful message that Spike Lee is stating. His work is an education on how America has abused Black people; their war is not in Vietnam but in America, the place the bloods call home. This is the undercurrent to the entertaining and slightly outlandish plot of buried treasure in a faraway land. It helps the film feel grounded! It is so much more than its crazy Othello-like plot.
The clash between the two tones of this film is the only place that this film falls. It is serious and educational at points, but this does not always naturally fit with the classic Spike Lee comedy. These awkward moments are few and far between. This is the only downside in an incredible showcase of Spike Lee’s talent. The acting, story and message are executed fantastically with the entire film coming together in a poignant and powerful testament to Lee’s film-making.
Written by George Marshall
Edited by Isobella Norman