Centering around four Black veterans who return to Vietnam in search of the remains of their fallen squad leader and the gold he helped them hide, the film looks to the past while simultaneously addressing the current state of the US, as Black Lives Matter protests continue to take place following the murder of George Floyd and countless other Black individuals at the hands of law enforcement.
Da 5 Bloods stars Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Chadwick Boseman, and Jonathan Majors, and is due out on Netflix this Friday, June 12. You can watch the trailer for Spike Lee's new movie below, then read the first reviews underneath.
Spike Lee has shown up with an insurgent filmic uproar to match the uproar in the world. Da 5 Bloods is a paintball gun loaded with real bullets: a blast of satire and emotional agony about race and the American empire, the evergreen wound of Vietnam, African-American sacrifices on the field of battle, and the fact that black deaths matter.
The Hollywood Reporter
Politics is always near the surface, often with a defiant wink, as in the recurring appearance of a faded, soiled MAGA hat, or in more pointed digs at a country that elected 'a reality TV clown for a president' or 'put a Klansman in the Oval Office.'
A loose, caustic look at the Vietnam war through the prism of black experiences, Da 5 Bloods wrestles with the specter of the past through the lens of a very confusing present, and settles into a fascinated jumble as messy and complicated as the world surrounding its release.
Toward the end of Da 5 Bloods, Spike Lee’s big, brash and rightly furious sprawl of a movie, a character offers one of those grand summations so obvious that you may wonder why it needed to be said: “After you’ve been in a war, you understand it never really ends.” That much has been clear enough during this sweeping, harrowing adventure saga, which takes place in contemporary Vietnam but is never far removed from the unspeakable traumas of half a century earlier.
Lee has crafted an exciting, violent film that can be enjoyed as strictly that, but what elevates it to greatness is what it says and what it shows about the perception of Blackness, whether in heroic situations or human ones.
Lee had no idea that his movie would be released as the killing of George Floyd would inspire people to take to the streets in protest, but he’s known in his bones how it felt for Black Americans to bear the crushing weight of a knee on their necks.
With a story that straddles two generations and stretches from Trump’s United States to the Vietnam jungle, Da 5 Bloods is one of Spike Lee’s most expansive films to date. But it’s built with the precise, snap-shut mechanisms of an ancient moral fable – a Pardoner’s Tale made about and for unpardonable times.
The best of Lee’s joints straddle the history that’s happened and the history being written now, and Da 5 Bloods successfully follows suit with themes of modern civil unrest and activism existing alongside images of Vietnam hero Milton L. Olive III and activist Angela Davis.
Audiences may be accustomed to such stereotypes in brain-dead action movies, but Da 5 Bloods is so sophisticated early on that it’s disheartening to see it fall back on lazy clichés. Such missteps make it tricky to accept some of Lee’s bolder choices in the second half.
The Washington Post
Da 5 Bloods is most invigorating when Lee is most sharply polemical, whether it’s during that vibrant prologue, or when he stops to drop some knowledge in interstitial flashes of history, wisdom and exuberant wit.