Plot Summary: Four African American vets battle the forces of man and nature when they return to Vietnam seeking the remains of their fallen squad leader and the gold fortune he helped them hide.
Cast: Delroy Lindo as Paul, Jonathan Majors as David, Clarke Peters as Otis, Norm Lewis as Eddie, Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Melvin, Chadwick Boseman as Norman Earl “Stormin’ Norm” Holloway, Johnny Trí Nguyễn as Vinh, Mélanie Thierry as Hedy Bouvier, Paul Walter Hauser as Simon, Jasper Pääkkönen as Seppo Havelin, Jean Reno as Desroche, Veronica Ngo as Hanoi Hannah, Lê Y Lan as Tiên, Nguyễn Ngọc Lâm as Quân and Sandy Hương Phạm as Michon
Directed by Spike Lee
Produced by Jon Kilik, Spike Lee, Beatriz Levin and Lloyd Levin
Written by Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Spike Lee, and Kevin Willmott
Riding on the hot trails of his Oscar and BAFTA win with BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee once again fuels the fire of race issues in America by exploring the militarization of African-Americans during the Vietnam war
Unsubtle with its political messages and social protests, Da 5 Bloods often flashes real-life images and clips of people who have suffered injustices while grooving to Marvin Gaye’s legendary album “What’s Going On”. Revisiting the classic record is just as relevant today as it were during the ’70s.
To set the mood, the film starts with an infuriating collage of black injustices mixed with shootings of people from Vietnam by American troops. Its main characters first meet at a bar in Vietnam talking politics and life after the war. These are Da 5 Bloods; A group of African-American veterans that aim to “repossess” their buried gold deep beneath the jungle. Spike also extends his spirit among the characters as the conversation turns to the lack of a “Black Rambo” in Hollywood. Da Bloods roster consists of Paul, Otis, Melvin, Eddie, and the ghost of Norm. Paul, Otis, and Norm’s characters are more fleshed out than the two. Paul portrays the omega of the group. He has not properly dealt with his post-traumatic syndrome and he thinks aloud—causing harm to his friends. His soft-hearted son who tags along the trip, David, contrasts his behavior and beliefs. The father-son dynamic is the main heart of the film. As their journey continues, we see the deterioration of their relationship. They love each other. But sometimes, tough love only works in less extreme environments. The journey to the jungle becomes a battle against the burden of their past decisions and David is forced to face the consequences with them.
Symbolisms and caricatures can be found everywhere. Each character represents a certain type of individual in our current society.
David can be seen as the representation of young African-Americans of our generation who suffer from the decisions of their fathers while Paul can be seen as the older generation of African-Americans who have suffered the older and more brutal forms of racism who have helped lessen the power of hate.
Donald Trump’s “Make America great again” hat can be seen as a symbol of a hateful ideology. The hat creates its own character in the story as it ironically gets placed in other people’s heads. It becomes a more complex villain than the people who wear it.
While the film doesn’t fail to convey its message, its preaches and rants sometimes overstay their welcome. These messages could’ve been reiterated or said in a more creative way while some of its visual metaphors can get a little gimmicky.
With the current administration being inept in handling its domestic affairs, civilians are now taking matters into their own hands. Their widespread efforts take on different forms. Spike Lee chose to create a film and unravel a different wound that humanity still suffers from.
The film is sure to spark passionate flames of black empowerment and can even fuel black propaganda. Films with this sort of nature must be introduced properly to the masses to avoid misinformation.
There is a lot to cover with Da 5 Bloods. Though it could have lessened the weight of its heavy-handed social commentary, it’s rich in meaning and it doesn’t shy away from its own colors.
Da 5 Bloods gets a 7/10
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