I love the New York Times headline – ‘da 5 Bloods: Black Lives Mattered in Vietnam, too.

It’s no secret, I’m not a movie guy. Strangely, three of the last four movies I’ve seen were war movies – ‘1917,’ ‘The Last Full Measure,’ and last night, ‘da 5 Bloods.’ ‘The Banker’ is the fourth movie. I didn’t like 1917, The Last Full Measure was great, and da 5 Bloods is an instant classic. 

This is Spike Lee’s second war movie and he’s very good at it. He did ‘The Miracle at St Anna’ in 2008 which got little play once released but I read Spike may have made more money from the lawsuits he won that prevented its release and distribution than he made in the box office. Ironically, the pandemic prevented ‘da 5 Bloods’ from hitting the theaters and it’s a shame because this movie was made for the big screen. 

I’ve been waiting for this Netflix release since I saw the trailer last month. I’ve seen all of Spike’s movies (not all of his documentaries) so my streak continues. 

As always, Spike hits on issues related to race, politics, family, faith, trust, loyalty, culture, conflict, and mental health. This movie introduced Vietnamese characters and we see how they feel about America and black soldiers 40-years after the war has ended. 

The soundtrack of the movie is Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ album forcing me to sing along through much of the movie. Clips of icons from the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power days, and even the current guy in the White House gives the movie perspective of how the racial climate in the 60s feeds today’s animus. If Spike had waited just a while longer to put this movie out, he would have had amazing footage from the current protests to really tie the periods together. 

Da 5 Bloods are five black soldiers who fought in Vietnam and four of them return in present day to retrieve a couple things they left behind. The success of their project hinged on trusting their Vietnamese connections, a white guy, and themselves. The complexities of relationships intensifies as the movie goes on which provides the drama. The combat scenes are intense and gory and initially confusing when you see the characters he has in battle. It’s an unusual twist I’ve never seen before and it took a little time to get acquainted to it but it was a powerful touch. 

The movie is important but not easy to watch. The black actors are familiar and did an amazing job. The music is the movie. It’s a great piece of art.