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Review of ‘Da 5 Bloods’

Kaitlyn Bowers, Video Director

Spike Lee has never been afraid to tackle taboo topics in the African American community, and his latest film “Da 5 Bloods” is no different, showcasing the effects of the Vietnam War on the black members of the U.S. forces. 

This film follows a group of four Vietnam war veterans—Otis, Paul, Eddie, and Melvin—and Paul’s son David as they journey back to the land they once fought in to retrieve the remains of their old squad leader Stormin’ Norm and find the gold that comes along with him.

The film begins with quotes from prominent people such as Muhammad Ali and Angela Davis, powerful imagery of black men serving in the Vietnam War, and footage of important events such as America’s landing on the moon, affectionately called “Da Moon.” The montage holds a clear message: racial tensions were and still are real in America. 

Immediately, the characters have a strong connection, despite falling out of touch with each other throughout the years. However, Spike Lee does a good job of diversifying characters who one might assume would think similarly. In this case, he writes Paul, a black man, as a supporter of President Donald Trump, much to the chagrin of the other characters. His “Make America Great Again” hat becomes a motif throughout the film, worn by several different characters, with each wear carrying a unique meaning. 

Norm, played by Chadwick Boseman of “Black Panther,” has an impact that is almost palpable throughout the film. Through the audience’s connection to the group, they feel connected to Norm. The search for his remains becomes nearly as important to the audience as it is to the Bloods. 

As any film connected to the Vietnam war does, “Da 5 Bloods” touches heavily on PTSD. While all members of the group suffer from it, it affects Paul the most, although he is stubborn to admit it. There are many tear-inducing moments throughout the film that highlight this.

Like most Spike Lee films, “Da 5 Bloods” is, at times, a comedy. However, funny moments don’t always last long. This film doesn’t hold back on showing the horrors and complexities of war, shown most prominently in the flashback of the Bloods hearing the news of Martin Luther King’s assassination. 

Spike Lee’s way of showcasing the memories of the Bloods is interesting; he chooses to keep the characters old, rather than casting younger actors to play them. He also adds a nice touch by changing the film from crisp digital cinematography to a grainy 16mm when in these flashbacks, sending the audience into the moment. 

Delroy Lindo, known for his recurring roles in Spike Lee films, puts on the show of a lifetime as Paul, and his chemistry with his onscreen son David, played by Jonathan Majors, carries the movie into its deepest, most soul wrenching moments. 

This film is not for the faint of heart. Between the gritty imagery and the, at times, offensive language, Spike Lee holds nothing back in showing the effects of the Vietnam War. At its core, however, it is a story of redemption, friendship and pure love. It can be heartbreaking at moments, but always powerful in its message.


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Review of ‘Da 5 Bloods’