Review: Da 5 Bloods (USA 2020)


I liked it just fine overall, but didn’t think it was one of Lee’s stronger films – too much that didn’t work. But in lieu of a real review (having trouble being coherent on this one – hard to disentangle the message from the quality of the film-making), some thoughts on the good, the bad, and the weird:

The Good:

1. The cast – Jonathan Majors is a really interesting actor, he brings such a weird energy to this and Last Black Man in San Francisco. And The Wire reunion of Clark Peters and Isiah Whitlock, Jr. was a treat, those guys are dependably great.

2. The sense of camaraderie between old soldiers and old friends, especially in the early going.

3. The first half of the film does a great job showcasing what a friendly, beautiful country modern Vietnam is. Visited some years back and had an amazing time.

4. Fun bit parts from some greats – I thought that was Jean Reno but he looks so old, And Veronica Ngo from Furie!

5. This shit feels Of. The. Moment.

The Bad:

1. The Terence Blanchard score was just awful – treacly, obvious, orchestral junk. I’ve seen Blanchard live and he’s usually amazing, but this was a dog.

2. Minor minor gripe, but CGI blood always looks cheap and fake, please just invest in some squibs.

3. Delroy Lindo has to carry a lot of the drama, and while he’s typically good, I didn’t think he quite carried it off. And Chadwick Boseman never brings the character of Norman to life.

The Weird:

1. I have mixed feelings on the way Lee has been using actual historical footage and photos. It’s undeniably powerful, but feels like a bit of cheat – I’m not sure he’s adding to my understanding of those images here and not just piggybacking on their rawness.

2. The choice to use the same actors to play their younger selves in wartime flashbacks is interesting, but I found it distracting – they looked like very, very old men playing soldier.

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