One year after winning an Oscar for BlacKkKlansman Spike Lee is back with his first Netflix movie. Too Da 5 bloods is full of outrage against the US government, hatred in society and oppression of black people. NU.nl presents the Vietnamese drama, which can be seen from Friday.
A group of black soldiers Da 5 bloods the law in your hands. In a flashback, we see how they find a large chest with gold bars on the front, actually meant for the Vietnamese fighting the Viet Cong. But the men decide to seize it themselves, “for every black soldier who has not returned home.”
Da 5 bloods takes place more than forty years after these events. Paul, Otis, Eddie and Melvin travel to Vietnam to find the gold bars hidden in the jungle.
And to bring home the missing body of Norman, their Martin Luther King comrade. Once the four men make a deal to smuggle the gold, they go into the bush with a guide.
“Make America Great Again”
However, over the years a rift has grown between old friends. Their war trauma, combined with decades of oppression in the United States, turned them into different people. While Otis is still compassionate and hopes for a new life with his wife and daughter in Vietnam, suspect Paul invariably walks around in a Make America Great Again cap.
A setup for many political statements, for which Lee is known. So he shared recently a video in which he showed the similarities between his own Do the right thing (1989) and the fatal arrests of George Floyd (2020) and Eric Garner (2014). Also in Da 5 bloods this commitment is clearly present.
Adventure in the jungle with technical flaws
Part of the film is literally meant as a history lesson. In the opening minutes, a series of archival footage shows the United States sowing death and destruction since the Vietnam War. Photos and videos also parade in the later film, as the characters discuss, for example, black civil rights or the abuse of power. Towards the end of the film, the radical radicalist Paul bursts into a fierce monologue. “You made me angry,” he blurted out to his government, looking directly at the camera.
With two and a half hours, Lee takes up the space to put various twists and turns on his jungle adventure, interspersed with friend drama and flashbacks in which the grizzled actors themselves play their versions forty years younger. Marvin Gaye makes frequent appearances on the soundtrack, as does a loud orchestra of epic trumpets and strings.
Da 5 bloods is rich in emotions and sometimes has technical flaws (sound, editing), which makes it more in line with Lee’s small films than cinematic successes BlacKkKlansman in Inside the man. Delroy Lindo (Paul), Clarke Peters (Otis), Norm Lewis (Eddie) and Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Melvin). Chadwick Boseman, best known for his lead role in Black Panther, can be seen in flashbacks like Norman.