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Da 5 Bloods

Spike Lee’s latest film follows 4 African American Vietnam war veterans who return to Vietnam to find the remains of the 5th Blood and secure some gold that they came into and buried before they escaped after their aircraft crashed in the jungle. There are some parts of the film that are well done. Spike Lee’s signature of educating us about the era from the perspective of Black history, what the war was like for African American soldiers, and the immorality of the war and how it lasts into the present is really good. When you see a Spike Lee film, especially is more recent ones, you learn something about history that for many of us has never been learned. Delroy Lindo, who plays one of the men Paul is excellent and probably has by far the strongest acting performance of the film. Lee looks to other genres here perhaps more than he has in his previous works; you can see Apocalypse Now and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre as influences. I really did not like the screenplay. While Apocalypse Now is brilliant, and I could see its influence throughout the film, the depth and power of the original is lost in this story. There are a lot of storylines that really go nowhere and seem to be distractions from the main story, thus diffusing its impact. I did not find what happened in the jungle to be convincing, and the score was wrong for the story. In fact, once they started their trek, one event after another happened that seemed to me just too implausible. I give it a thumbs up for Lee’s signature directorial decisions that make you think. As a developed screenplay, it is a bit of a mess, and on reflection, I would rather have had Spike Lee write the screenplay. I think this film could have been much more convincing and piercingly powerful if he had more direct control of the story. This is certainly no Do the Right Thing or Blackkklansman. I do encourage people to see the film, as it seems others are much more enthusiastic about the film than I am. (2020; 3.0 Stars)

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