Starring: Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters
Director: Spike Lee
Running Time: 155 mins
Da 5 Bloods is an American film about a group of Vietnam veterans who return to South East Asia to recover the buried body of their fallen pal, as well as find the treasure they buried in the jungle during the war.
This is a fantastic film. Complete with director Spike Lee’s inimitable passion and fire, Da 5 Bloods thrills with a brilliant blend of urgent political themes and deeply engrossing personal drama, furthered by strong energy throughout and a collection of staggering performances across the board.
At over two and a half hours long, and playing out at a moderately slow pace, you wouldn’t necessarily expect Da 5 Bloods to throw up such heart-stopping emotion and drama from start to finish. But, with Lee’s fantastic directing that injects incredible energy and depth into every moment throughout, there’s hardly a dull moment here.
The film offers up a gripping exploration of the legacy of the Vietnam War, as well as the story of black soldiers who fought for the US, but found themselves still facing discrimination and oppression that they had been fighting to liberate Vietnamese from in South East Asia.
That proves to be a fascinating historical angle to take, and it links in effectively with the film’s contemporary themes, providing a thought-provoking insight at the legacy of the war in both Vietnam and the USA, and how black veterans from the war have not only been underappreciated, but returned to the same situation they were in before going off to fight.
With such passionate historical and political thematic depth, there’s a lot to think about here, however Da 5 Bloods goes even further by delivering an emotionally gripping story on a personal level.
While certainly bolstered by that thematic richness, the story of the four veterans who journey into the Vietnamese jungle decades after serving there in combat develops into a riveting adventure. Their relationship with one another is tested, while their views on the modern world create tension despite their aims to be the same tight-knit group they were all those years ago.
That underlying tension and emotional drama boils and bubbles through the whole film, working as a powder keg of energy that appears ready to burst at any point, and as such making Da 5 Bloods a genuinely nail-biting watch that’s full of pent-up energy.
Spike Lee does a masterful job of bringing that to life, but the performances go a step further, with the chemistry of the lead quartet fantastic throughout, as well as the mix of humble turns from the likes of Clarke Peters and Jonathan Majors to the staggeringly powerful and bombastic turn from Delroy Lindo in what proves to be an unforgettable role.
There really is so much about Da 5 Bloods that makes it such a gripping film. It’s a riveting and powerful adventure that brings with it deeply affecting emotional drama and urgent, relevant political and historical insight, all brought together in fantastic fashion by director Spike Lee and with a whole host of excellent performances. And that’s why I’m giving it 8.1 overall.