My take :
Da 5 bloods was directed by Spike Lee and is a story of 5 black men who’ve been sent to fight in the Vietnam war. Norman, the leader, Paul Otis, Eddie, Melvin were sent on a mission by the American government to retrieve some gold at a plane crash in one of the jungles. A change of events, like a counter attack caused their plans to change and they decide to keep the gold for themselves. Unfortunately, this mission was to be their last as a group of 5. Norman was accidentally killed and the gold they’d buried lost.
As veterans, many years later, the 4 of them reunite with fresh plans to explore the terrain with new confidence in order to find Norman’s body as well as the gold.
The film uses flashbacks to show the kind of relationship da bloods had. Flash backs to Maartin Luther King’s speech and talks about the injustice of using black men to fight a war they had no business with, where their rights were not assured. Norman preached a message of love and he was something of a hero to these men. The original idea before he was killed was to get the gold and distribute it to their people. But plans change and gold changes people.
Chaos ensues in the jungle. David, Paul’s son secretly joins this group on their mission. The film explores the relationship between Paul and David, who always felt unloved and blamed by his father as the reason for the death of his mother in childbirth. It’s clear that Paul has been fighting demons and ptsd for years because he still blames himself for Norman’s death. The mission is further compromised by landmines found in the jungle, the double crossing of the Desroche, the man who was supposed to help them transport this gold out of the country.
I watched this film in installments because it sometimes felt like a documentary and too much to take in all at once. I found the decision to keep the men in the same form in the flashbacks strange . These men, except for Chadwick were old at the beginning of the film and old at the end of it. The makeup did not help their case. I understand it would cost more to get younger actors to act in those flashback scene together with chadwick but that would have made it more believable.
Melvin really did chew a lot of gum. Watched a man get blown up and yet had an appetite. Interesting choice. Was that on purpose or is he an actor who likes to chew? I thought the Frenchness of Melanie, who was part of the mine detonating team was made too obvious. It was as if even her smile was extra French to draw our attention and I found it incredible that Chadwick would conveniently choose to forgive Paul(in one of his troubled hallucinations) in the jungle where he was bound to be killed.
In general, it was an okay film. Tough love, black love, you will find that here. And I think the history bits even though we didn’t glean much from them, were enough as a passing reference to pique our curiosity to learn more a
bout this war.
From the Baker :
Watching the intro of their reunion, I am reminded of my own group of friends and how uni was our Vietnam.
It's nice to see a movie about the Vietnam war from the black side which also educates the public with little black history facts put throughout the movie. When talking about Norman and the flash back, I loved the Vietnamese dialogue before they got killed. It showed both sides have people they love.
The film also showed the psychological warfare used during times of war which can be seen during the broadcast when Martin Luther King died and the effects of war which can be seen when Paul gets triggered by the Vietnamese selling chicken.
In the end the movie reveals Paul shot Norman in a friendly fire which is another aspect of war most people never talk about. I guess this is why Paul was affected the most due to guilt.
I didn't understand why they shot at the chopper if the war was over until I realised it was a flashback but they still look the same. Another shocker was Eddie getting blown up. I also didn't understand how David found the room and entered. Lastly I find it funny the maga hat was not shown clearly throughout the movie until the french man wore it.