Da 5 Bloods (2020)

“Five Bloods don’t die, we just multiply!”“Five Bloods don’t die, we just multiply!”

“Five Bloods don’t die, we just multiply!”

Following the success of the best picture nominated Blackkklansman is no easy task but if you’re the great Spike Lee it’s not impossible. Blackkklansman after all got Spike his first Oscar win for best adapted screenplay – it’s expected that the same excellence would be expected with every film going forward. Netflix is known for their original content; in fact, they have been at it way longer than other prominent streaming services. Their content could be hit or miss – most of their notable movies in the last couple years have been Academy contenders (Roma, The Irishman, Klaus, Marriage Story, The Two Popes).

Then there is the flip side to their original content that isn’t so well received (6 Underground, Triple Frontier, Extraction). Historically Netflix films are big budget which doesn’t always necessarily mean a guaranteed hit, but Da 5 Bloods comes in on the lower side of things with a budget between $35-45 million. Netflix doesn’t always have the best marketing for their content as most of their stuff comes out without a single notice, things just appear on the home screen – no warning whatsoever. War films about Vietnam are interesting in the fact that they never show us the same point of view as the previous. Spike Lee tells us a story from we didn’t think we needed.

This tale is told by the perspective of 4 Vietnam veterans who take a vacation back to the country to dig up their dead blood brothers remains and bring him home to have a proper burial. That premise alone makes for a great story since that blood brother had such a profound impact on these 4 other men and how they lived their lives post war. Their real concern was the pile of gold that the bloods buried in Vietnam because deep down they are all just like any American: greedy. Greed plays such an alarming role in this film – who gets how much of a shar, why does these three people that we don’t even know get a share. Hedy (Mélanie Thierry), Simon (Paul Walter Hauser), and Seppo (Jasper Pääkkönen) literally come out of the wood word help save David’s (Jonathan Majors) life and get a share of the money.  

Vietnam isn’t the same country today as it was back in the 70’s. There’s fast food places on every street corner, Apocalypse Now (highly regarded as one of the best war films ever made) displays on a giant screen in a nightclub. Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) while having a good time remember all the horror’s war tends to bring back. Paul the most out of all of them has the most trauma. From the very beginning he’s yelling at children or not wanting to take drinks sent to their table by Vietnamese gentlemen.

Da 5 Bloods offers stunning cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel showing us the incredible landscape the country has to offer. The music also notable is put together rather well. It just so happens that some of the best music comes from an at war country – mostly protesting the war than supporting it. Where Da 5 Bloods fails is the predictability of where certain plot points start and finish. It’s clear when a person is backing up without looking where he’s going something bad is about to happen. That bad thing is Melvin steps on a landmine and loses every single limb.

The weird part about this scene in particular is the remaining Bloods and Paul’s son David only care about how the gold will be divided. Their brother just died a horrific death but none of them have any sympathy for him. Like none at all as if he didn’t matter to them. Paul as a character is the most predictable out of the group. A merchant tries to sell him a chicken and he has a mental breakdown – that triggering effect can be seen 5 miles away. Another predictable plot point is when Otis visits his former lover Tiên (Lê Y Lan). Its obvious as soon as she comes on screen that the two had a daughter that was kept as a secret from Otis.

Another thing that can easily take you out of the film are the flashbacks. Although filled powerful and moving speeches and dialogue from ‘Stormin’ Norman (Chadwick Boseman) the main actors themselves played their younger selves. We are made to believe that the protagonists are younger in the flashbacks yet have their gray facial hair still. How is it these men haven’t aged in nearly 40 years? I understand using younger actors to play the younger versions but to have the same actors play their younger selves while looking the same in present day is off-putting. It takes you right out of the moment making those scenes less realistic.  If they can move easily and have agility in the flashbacks but need hardcore pain medication to walk up a hill something doesn’t add up.

It is completely unnecessary for this film to break the fourth wall when Paul ventures out on his own and talks to the camera. His character is so far gone he’s hallucinating at this point – it doesn’t fit within the parameters of the plot itself. If the fourth wall was established earlier in the film, it’s an entirely different story but to bring something in like that later on in the film doesn’t fully have that added weight to the characters arc. Breaking the fourth wall works for a film and character like “Deadpool” because that is how the character is established in the script and in the comic version.

This film lacks in a clear plot and establishing its own identity. Films like Apocalypse Now is incredibly iconic that this film feels like its borrowing too much from that final confrontation. Where this film shines is the relationships between the bloods themselves. The chemistry is electric between Paul and David. As much as a terrible father Paul is to David, he still loves his son and finds himself lucky to have this experience with him there almost taking the place of Norman as the 5th blood.

Delroy Lindo is the clear standout performance of this film, his character is vulnerable and passionate about what he believes while digging deep into his depths to find that trauma and portray it in a way that is utterly believable. You can feel his pain while sympathizing with him. His performance is oscar worthy giving us one of the best performances of the weird year the film industry has been experiencing.

The runtime was a bit too long for this film – things could have been cut out to make the film move more fluently. Having too long of a run time throws off the pacing of the film too. Certain things feel off center and the flashbacks feel forced at points. Yes, Norman had such an impact, but it lacks being genuine like he is obtruding on the bloods. If I were to rate Da 5 Bloods, I’d rate it a 2.5 out of 5.

So, tell me guys, have you seen Da 5 Bloods and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.

Da 5 Bloods is directed by Spike Lee is Rated R and has an 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Da 5 Bloods was released on June 12th, 2020 and has a runtime of 2 hour and 34 minutes. Da 5 Bloods can be streamed on Netflix.

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*I do not own these photos used in this article; all rights reserved to the copyright holder*

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