Da 5 Bloods ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
If you haven’t seen Spike Lee’s latest joint, then get to it, already. It’s a good one. It’s been riding high on Netflix’s top 10, so a lot of people are watching and, as you’ll see at the end of this post, garnering critical praise.
Oscar-worthy? The movie year might only be half over, but so far the Oscar competition isn’t strong. Even if it was, this movie should still be among the nominations for Best Director.
Best Director: It’s long overdue for a black director to win this elusive prize. Barry Jenkins won Best Picture for “Moonlight,” not director. Jenkins and Lee are among the six black directors nominated for the directing Oscar. John Singleton was the first (“Boyz ‘n the Hood”), followed by Lee Daniels (“Precious”), Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) and Jordan Peele (“Get Out”).Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods Puts Him in Oscar Race, With 10 Months to Go | IndieWire
Now, it’s time to get into SPOILER territory. Because I don’t want to ruin the movie for those who haven’t seen yet, our site’s official warning is due.
…. you’ve been warned, SPOILERS ahead …
That Stepping On A Landmine Scene
There are several powerful scenes in this film, but one of them involves one of the four Vietnam vets giving a speech while walking backward and holding gold, only to step on a landmine. Then the son of another steps on one, but he realizes it and his father ties rope around him and gives an impassioned speech about beating the mine, referencing the speed of a world class runner.
It’s one of the most tense, dramatic and ludicrous scenes ever filmed. It’s absurd and implausible, but intentionally so. The irony is thick and smart. War films are rarely known for these type of cinematic moments, especially in the aftermath, in the present, not what happened during the war itself.
These remnant mines are problematic on so many levels, but the film doesn’t dwell or preach about the subject and that makes it even more poetic. Moviegoers don’t need preaching, we need more excellent filmmaking showing, not telling, like this. Applause.
Could have done without the MAGA and Trump bashing, but it fit the story at least
One of the characters wears a Make American Great Again (MAGA) hat and there are several President Trump bashing moments. While I see how and why those were done, they were a bit distracting at moment, breaking the fourth wall intentionally. Spike Lee could have been more effective using more subtle references to the President to mock him, but it wasn’t over the top and unnecessary, it did fit the movie.
(Important disclaimer: I’m not sticking up for President Trump in the paragraph above, Simply stating it was distracting inside a fictional movie being reminded of a non-fictional political figure. It could have been any political figure — Obama, Clinton, Bush, etc., not just the current American President. And of all the things Trump can be blamed for, Vietnam is not one of them).
Gold In Them Thar Hills
We all have favorite parts of films. One of my most favorite, the thing that just kept me coming back to this story, was the gold. Inanimate, passionless, cliched in comparison to another famous film, and yet it just sat there waiting to be claimed. I soooo wanted the vets to get that gold and live happily ever after. I mean, they’d suffered enough mentally and physically from the trauma of war. I’m sure at least in part the gold was there to sucker in viewers like me. It worked.
While I came for the gold, I stayed for the performances, the obstacles and tragedy. Some riveting acting and I just had to know how this would end. It delivered.
Reviews By Others
Here’s what others are saying about Da 5 Bloods:
- tensecondsfromnow / film-authority: “…slowly graduates from political sub-text to essential text, a crucial, dramatic, meaty Vietnam movie that successfully attempts to redress a genuine historical imbalance in cinema.”
- PatrickWhy / The Ebert Test: “As is sometimes the case (IMHO) with Lee’s work, it goes a little long, overstating its point in certain places, but then again, they are, perhaps, points that warrant restatement.”
- All Things Movies UK: “…deserves many nominations. Especially for Spike Lee’s direction and Delroy Lindo’s acting performance. For me, it’s a near perfect war movie. Not necessarily set around war, but dealing with the aftermath and pain from a gruesome war.”
- CJ / Film Mafia: “In tone and temperament, the film reverberates with BlacKkKlansman, offeringhumour and the ‘good hang’ joys of a delightfully cohesive ensemble along with genre thrills, black history, socio-political critique and complex moral reckoning.”
- Darren Lucas / Movie Reviews 101 (4.5/5): “This is a performance heavy movie, that does show us the unity of brotherhood from war in a way that only Spike Lee can, showing a new light on the soldiers that would have been forgotten in time.“
- Darren / The M0vie Blog: “…isn’t quite as compelling or as dynamic as BlacKkKlansman. Its runtime is a little too long, and its plot is a little too conventional. However, Lee is working with a strong cast that helps bring forth the humanism in this foreign adventure. Still, it’s hard to resist the movie’s charm”
- DC Bolling / DCs Take (Grade: B+): “Lee’s latest joint happens to be his most mature effort with his beautiful direction, great ensemble, especially an Oscar-worthy performance from Lindo, and a captivating story that could’ve been true, for all I know.”
- Doc / EYG / Embrace Your Geekness (5/5): “I’m not sure there could have been a more effective or relevant movie to be dropped on Netflix today than Spike Lee’s next film, Da 5 Bloods. Beautiful. Painful. Poignant. Shocking. Pertinent.”
- FILMAHOLIC (4.5/5): “Spike Lee’s latest Joint is not perfect and might be a bit heavy handed for some, but for those willing to take the ride with him, it’s a moving and epic experience that is poised to become a classic and one of the year’s best films. Don’t miss it.”
- Franz Patrick’s Film Archives (4/4): “I couldn’t help but think, “Spike Lee was the only person who could have made this” because the work possesses so much flavor and personality, the experience leaps out of the screen to slap us and shake us; it is alive, humorous, tragic, ironic, and timely.”
- Henry’s Movie Reviews: “The cast has amazing chemistry and I could not get enough of the performances. Academy you better be putting this on your list because it is a high-quality film that deserves the recognition.”
- Humanizing The Vacuum (Grade: B+): “A congeries of influences and outright borrowings held together by Lee’s commitment to his own kind of temporal reality, Da 5 Bloods uses several decades worth of cinematic detritus to illustrate the futility of being a black man in these United States.”
- Irfan Nordin / IrFan Reviews Films (7.5/10): “Fierce energy and ambition course through Da 5 Bloods, coming together to fuel one of Spike Lee’s most urgent and impactful films.”
- Island Movie Blogs: “I genuinely think, this is the best movie Spike Lee has ever made, and its still fully in his wheelhouse, so its a really interesting combination of his style of movie, with something I think is a little more commercial. “
- Jon Spencer Reviews: “…I cannot praise Lee’s film more for they way he uses the many aspect ratios to determine which period it is set in, the performances, film-making techniques, and the message he is trying to send. ‘Da 5 Bloods’ is an important film, no doubt, as it uses archival footage that make it seem documentary-esque, and brutal imagery that will haunt and disturb on an emotional level.”
- Josh Lasser / The TV and Film Guy’s Reviews (5/5): “Spike Lee is a filmmaker who has repeatedly told us about racial injustice and strife and repeatedly told us to do better. With “Da 5 Bloods,” he delivers the message again and does so in even more potent form”
- Keith / Keith & The Movies (3.5/5): “It’s a fascinating buffet of potent themes and meaningful social commentary, soaked in rich style and classic cinema flavor.”
- Let’s Talk About Movies: “…couldn’t be more thought provoking, but they’re carefully wrapped in a mainstream package, which makes them accessible to almost everyone. And “Da 5 Bloods” is no exception: it’s a good story told with passion, humor, and a keen eye for detail.”
- Leo Rydel / Geekly Goods (9/10): “In all honesty, I loved this movie. I laughed, cried, and was shocked by what I saw. The movie is so phenomenal, that it’s hard for me to put into words what I watched”
- Martin Towers / The Film Towers: “What a privilege, in short, to get to enjoy such a monument of a film, a treat for the eyes, with a range of great performances. Everyone with a Netflix account should make this their next watch.”
- Michael J. Cinema: “…is long and twisty, but never predictable. There are some groaners—the handful of references to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre feel forced—but like any Lee movie, it moves so fast and contains so much, you never dwell on a misstep long.”
- Often Off Topic (4/5): “I had high hopes for this. I think it’s the kind of movie where every viewer will have a different experience but for me, this was a slow burner that lagged to begin with but more than paid off in the end.”
- Palmer Rubin / TV and City: “It’s very much a Spike Lee joint at its core, best and worst of his tendencies all wrapped up into one. If you love his work, then you’ll really love this. If you dislike him for whatever reason, you’re probably never going to enjoy this.”
- Randall A. Golden / Midlife Crisis Crossover: “Lee adroitly sets up Da 5 Bloods as a tense postwar drama whose final acts accelerate through commercial suspense-thriller mechanics while never stopping the commentary. After the first twenty minutes’ camaraderie I began secretly hoping the film would just be 2½ hours of these same four actors chatting over a series of dinners, but alas, such pleasures are fleeting and left behind when stuff gets real.”
- Richard Denis / Graphic Policy: “…is a powerhouse of emotion, politics, and black history that easily fits in with the Black Lives Matter movement currently voicing their anger on the streets today, but it never takes for granted that it’s first and foremost a Vietnam War movie.”
- thatfilmbloguk: “There’s one quote that boils down the point Lee is trying to make with Da 5 Bloods. Delivered by Vinh (Johnny Nguyen), he says, ‘After you’ve been in a war, you understand it never really ends. Whether it’s in your mind or in reality. There are just degrees.’”
- Trailer Trashed: “…is an important film, it’s eye opening, uncomfortable, at times very funny and emotional. It may not be my favourite film I have seen this year, but I can’t deny it’s poignancy. “
- Benn Bell / Ghost Dog (5/10): “The movie suffers from poor writing and mediocre directing. Spike throws everything he has into this movie including the kitchen sink. Part Treasure of the Sierra Madre and part Apocalypse Now, it never does find its own footing.”
- Bouquets & Brickbats: “…has already been garlanded with high praise from several quarters, but for me, at least, it’s not up there with Lee’s finest work. What’s more, with a running time of two hours and thirty four minutes, there are sections here that feel more gruelling than they needed to.”
- Dick Stanley / The Texas Scribbler: “…a drama of a return to Vietnam by four black combat veterans now in their sixties, pretty much left me cold. Not just because of the politics (the one Trump supporter is PTSD crazy and gets it in the end, presumably for his sin of voting the wrong way) but by the way the veterans on their return to the country decades after the conflict ended keep attracting angry Vietnamese who lost kin in the American war.”
- The Dragon Lady Files: “If we are to have new films about real wars, they should tell us something new because it is time to expand our understanding of war and its participants beyond the white protagonist. Yet in his ambitious effort, Spike failed both women and the Vietnamese in “Da 5 Bloods,” and “Da 5 Bloods” frames this as black versus white in a world where women and Asians are background players and it surely is a time to look beyond that binary.”
- Eddie / Jordan & Eddie (The Movie Guys) (2/5): “A hugely disappointing effort from Lee, Da 5 Bloods may have found its share of critical acclaim but while its themes and subject matter should be commended, as a film; this Netflix release is as unpolished and unfocused as they come.”
- leesbj / Vagabond Shoes: “It’s nonsensical not because the story of vets revisiting the country in search of answers and redemption is far fetched; ridiculous because on a human level, on the level of fiction, nothing is credible.”
- MoodyB / The Cinema Cynic: “It is very often the case in films that less can indeed be more, and perhaps Lee should have remembered this, as Da 5 Bloods tries to be too many things and take on too many themes, and so in the end becomes an unsatisfying bloated mess of a film.”
- nicklacey / The Case for Global Film: “Lee throws in numerous references to Apocalypse Now!, the helicopters in the sun and The Ride of the Valkyries in particular, and uses footage from Civil Rights police violence and numerous black voices including Mohammed Ali and Martin Luther King Jr. All these work brilliantly but I was so alienated by the film from the time they find the gold that I had to force myself to keep watching. “
- notlefthandedfilmguy: “I don’t think it mixes the small story and the big picture together as well as BlackKklansman and some of the plot developments are too heavily signposted (Chekov’s gun is a different type of weapon in this film and it is over used). I also think that the notion that for these men the war never ended plays out too literally, for both sides.”
- SCOTT WILLIAM FOLEY: “I truthfully wanted to love Da 5 Bloods. I entered the movie without a shred of objectivity–I was fully prepared to write a rave review, especially because critics seem to adore it. But it would be a disservice to Spike Lee himself if I denied my criticisms. It’s still a very watchable film, however, with extremely important messages.”
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