2020 Film Review: Da 5 Bloods
Updated: Jul 2
The Black Lives Matter movement continues to go on with the search for justice and equality the main intention. Sadly, we've seen this be overshadowed by morons obsessed with statues of slave owners and muppets looking to cause trouble whilst pretending they are standing up for good. Recently, many people of the U.K. seemed to feel left out by Americans embarrassing themselves by showcasing their racism and apparently, wanted to showcase just how awful they are too. It's important to remember that these imbeciles are acting like this because of a demand for justice and equality. Nonetheless, we should all continue to advocate for change, by doing whatever you can. Whether it be signing petitions, donations or supporting Black people through engaging with their work, there's a lot that can be easily done to help out. Continue going to www.itsnicethat.com and
blacklivesmatters.carrd.co to see what you can do to help.
June 12th saw the release of 'Da 5 Bloods', a film from none other than Spike Lee. Lee has always been candid about his views and is not afraid to confront and point these issues out in his work. In this current climate, the world needs storytellers like Lee, who'll tell it as it is and pull no punches when doing so. 'BlacKKKlansman' was a great example with this, and as tensions have only continued to grow since then, Lee is back with another fierce entry. The timing could not be any better, as this story of Vietnam veterans explores many key issues that mirror the recent actions in 2020.
Plot Synopsis: 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.
As previously mentioned, the timing could not be better for the release of 'Da 5 Bloods', providing key and insightful messages whilst the world continues to be in turmoil. It's no secret that Lee uses his platform to address many Black issues, with BlacKKKlansman (2016) and Malcolm X (1992) being a few of many in a successful career. Sadly, within the years he's been active, the same problems continue to appear and are pointed out clearly within his films.
'Da 5 Bloods' certainly is not subtle, mirroring the way recent protests have had to become in order to make their messages clear to try and impact change. Immediately, the film starts with images of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali criticising the Vietnam War, and in particular, how the US have turned to many Black Americans in order to help them out during the Vietnam War. Speeches from Malcolm X, Kwame Ture and other activists play alongside images of poverty, marches and police brutality. Promises have been made time and time again, in order to manipulate a population into doing their bidding with hopes of a better future. Sadly, this is extremely reminiscent of current times, with Lee making his film's points blatantly obvious in less than three minutes showing those in power using people like this constantly, with no fair recognition or equality to go alongside it.
These statements continue throughout the entirety of the film as we meet the 'Bloods' in both past and present time, with Lee shifting styles to showcase a clear visual change in time, with a gritty and much more raw look to the Vietnam War. Lee uses flashbacks very well to showcase the issues still very much apparent and also interestingly adding extra or, to many, unknown information on certain events. Certain figures with what they did are added to enlighten further understandings of particular events, showcasing unsung heroes and contributions made by many. This is one of the films strongest aspects, as in a time where people are digging deeper into world events/leaders and what actually happened, rather than taking what we've been told through curriculums and statues, Lee is doing what we all should be doing an exploring these things furthermore. Again, this is extremely timely, allowing moments like these to strike even harder.
Alongside all these topical issues is the backdrop of the Vietnam War, focussing on that time period as well as its effects decades later. Lee showcases the effect both on the country of Vietnam as well as that on those who were there, both civilian and soldier. With this, we see dreadful effects on many people, from undiscovered minefields to PTSD struck veterans. PTSD becomes a key aspect, focusing on the character Paul, who struggles to deal with the loss of great friend Stormin Norman and the war as a whole. Delroy Lindo is receiving a lot of praise for an intense performance as Paul, who is clearly very troubled by all that has happened in the past and the turmoil right now. The character of Paul is flawed, showcasing greed, trust issues and naivety but you feel for him due to the effects certain events have had on him. With this, you get a wide range of emotion, from feeling sorry for him to becoming terrified of him. One of the more notable scenes that is gaining traction is Paul's intense delusional monologue as he gazes down the camera through the jungle. It is an exceptional piece of acting, with an intense speech powered by stubbornness to not give up and a feeling of invincibility being utterly captivating and powerful.
After such an exceptional piece of acting and writing, the film takes a severe dip in its quality, completely diving into the war aspect. Suddenly, the film is a complete action movie that does feel somewhat out of left field. This isn't the kind of film that needed an all guns blazing final showdown which felt pretty out of place. The cleverness of the writing and messages seem to disappear as the film draws to a close, opting for a more explosive finale which isn't so fitting to the rest of the tale. The ending doesn't match the rest of the film, with the script being massively weaker in these points, meaning the film doesn't totally nail the landing, despite later attempts at a final emotional punch.
With a story that focuses a lot on key issues and nailing its message, the fact that the film has a pretty solid adventure vibe to it. The characters all have personality and clash with one another, causing twist and turns among some surprises. There's good humour and a whole lot of tension as you really feel the wear and tear this group has gone through, as well as the love and comradery they share. Lee's jumps between the present, the past, the characters issues and the messages he's trying to convey can be a bit wild at times, as he has a lot to say about a wide range of topics. Yet, he manages to do so in a way that nothing really feels understated and nails his points whilst remaining entertaining. Lee's enormous talent is on show has he has a lot to juggle around and so could've easily fallen into the trap of neglecting character and an intriguing narrative simply to make way for his points. With this and some of his previous efforts, it shows that Lee is truly one of the best working talents, making engaging content that is entertaining and wholly important.
We're still uncertain as to whether or not we'll have an award season, time will only tell. If it does go ahead, 'Da 5 Bloods' looks like a certainty to feature, especially for Delroy Lindo as Best Actor. It can't be stressed enough that this is an important film for our time and is coming from one of the best working directors who continues to fight on for a better future. Powerful and well-thought-out, 'Da 5 Bloods' is a poignant piece and is one for all to see as we look to improve ourselves and our world.
Final Rating: 4/5
It sure is good to have a new release and at that one that is of high quality and importance. With Netflix funding these sort of passion projects like 'Da 5 Bloods' and 'Roma', we're going to see a lot more representation and stories from different perspectives which the world desperately needs. It seems as if I definitely made the right choice to choose this film over 'Artemis Fowl' as well. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated and I hope you enjoyed reading about this film. Make sure to check the film out and to come back for more movie reviews soon!