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Da 5 Bloods – We Ain’t No International Criminals, You Dig?

In case you were wondering, No, the typical Vietnam helicopter scene doesn’t play Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Fortunate Son in this one. They do include Marvin Gaye’s music though, which I found to be a great choice in the soundtrack.

Summary

Da 5 Bloods (2020) is directed by Spike Lee and the latest thrilling war installation from Netflix.

Cast members include Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr., and Chadwick Boseman.

Four African American Vietnam veterans return to Vietnam in search of the decayed remains of their fallen squad leader and a gold fortune he assisted them in hiding.

These courageous men battle the unconquerable forces of man and nature, while also being confronted by the previous devastation of the unethical barbarity of the Vietnam war.

Photo Credit: Netflix

Cogent Story Line & Appearance

The production team overall did a splendid job in describing the story to me in an interesting and unique fashion.

Although the men that chose to go back to Vietnam were fictional characters, the story still made relevant and true references to real people and real-life events that occurred in the past during the catastrophic war in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

One thing I really took an interest in was viewing the flashbacks of the rapid-fire shootouts where the soldiers had to cover each other’s flanks.

It wasn’t just the visual intensity and anxiety that was gripping to look at.

What made these scenes in particular great to see was the style and size of the screen aspect ratio.

It really made everything look realistic as if it’s in real-time happening instantly.

I also gladly caught notice of how the size and scope of the whole screen would change shape in different scenes based on the plot timeline it was in, whether in the present or past.

Carefully Crafted Direction

Spike Lee in my opinion did a fantastic effort in differentiating the different types of settings the characters were in by making sure the environment around them fit nicely with their actions and behaviors.

Some scenes included them meeting up in the center place of Vietnam to reinvigorate the camaraderie they used to share.

Others observe them in the Vietnam jungles hopefully in search of the massive gold they hid while singing and joking around with themselves.

And then there’s the scenes that are hard to watch, the ones that make you wanna hold your stomach and take deep, concentrated breaths so as to not puke into a bag.

Many of these types of examples are marvelously employed throughout the plot.

Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that the entire runtime is long.

Like, REALLY long.

It encompasses at least 2 and a half hours, so be sure to have time set up outside and away from distractions.

Photo: Netflix

Refreshing Writing

To tag along with the professionally directed narrative, the writing also was refreshing to hear.

I can’t tell you how many times I was cracking up from the characters simply jesting with one another through derogatory remarks.

Words like, “Mothafucka!” and “You Dig?” are sprinkled everywhere, enough to probably make Pulp Fiction blush.

I applaud the writers in this respect, they handled the writing and script with originality and newness.

Various scenes were overflowing with dark comedy and humor, as well as profound moments of genuine brotherly bonding that served to flesh out the character’s identity and connections towards one another.

Graphic Cinematography

When it comes to the cinematography and imagery, be ready to brace yourself for certain parts that may end up making you skip breakfast.

There are a wide variety of flashing images that are extremely graphic.

Being a war movie and not just a drama, of course there is going to be blood and guts being spilled and thrown around.

Here’s some advice, I wouldn’t suggest eating snacks or crackers while watching this.

If you do choose to do that, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The gruesome visuals include not just the present with the characters trekking through the Vietnam jungles and being ambushed.

A lot of them are taken from real and actual events of tapes and photos that reveal the horror and inhumanity that was committed during that time.

Again, be ready to mentally prepare yourself for viewing incredibly explicit imagery.

Some of it really is tough to take in.

Interesting Soundtrack

I was a bit skeptical of the choice to include Marvin Gaye’s music in one scene, I’ll admit.

The more I heard it though, the more it worked out perfectly.

Also, Terence Blanchard was super inspirational with how he utilized the score and soundtrack.

In a very surreal sense, the music that accompanied the 4 Vietnam vets during their travels along the dangerous Vietnam ground, and the many times they were ambushed and provoked, proved to be a thrilling heart-racing adventure.

The moments that resonated with me the most though were when the 4 men, including the 5th (David), were gathered together in an effort of attempting to spark that loyal and friendly nature with each other.

They were truly the best scenes by far and are what hold up the core spirit and essence of the film entirely.

Da Best Blood Performances

As to the performances, all the cast members practically lit through the screen.

Delroy Lindo in particular was incredibly fiery and passionate with his deliverance.

He instilled in me a mix of different emotions, from successfully making me laugh and chuckle, to feeling joy and pure hope, to sadness and heartache.

Clarke Peters as well did really well alongside Lindo with the way their interactions shifted frequently as new circumstances developed.

Chadwick Boseman also appeared, albeit for short and brief moments, but his performance undoubtedly was portrayed through hopeful and visually-glorifying means.

Actors like Jonathan Majors, Norm Lewis, and Isiah Whitlock as well were helpful and productive to the plot with their supportive executions.

Final Thoughts

In the end, Da 5 Bloods was a very worthwhile investment for me.

Even though the runtime looks a bit intimidating, the performance, direction, writing, etc. make up more than enough to keep the viewer enticed and engaged with the whole story.

What I liked about this war drama the most was not just the humorous and satiric moments it provided that give it a nice edge to it, as well as the intense and shocking gunfire action scenes which greatly dramatize the visual effects in a very fast-paced and urgent manner.

It taught me a significant lesson about what the Vietnam war was like, and how the soldiers that went through it were affected and changed as a result.

PTSD is a very real mental disorder, and the kinds of events and experiences that can trigger it are the ones exactly like these where millions of men suffered immensely in a terrifying war, and saw things done by others that couldn’t be described through words alone.

All the more reason to pay tribute and respect to the fallen soldiers that witnessed these horrible acts against humanity, in Vietnam and others such as WWI and II, as well as remember them for their honorable service and bravery.

FP Score – Praiseworthy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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War/Drama

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