Da 5 Bloods. 2020. USA. Directed by Spike Lee. With Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Chadwick Boseman. DCP. 156 min.
The war never ends. Four veterans—the titular “5 Bloods”—reunited in present-day Vietnam for the first time since they were GIs, are searching not just for the remains of their fallen friend Stormin’ Norman (Chadwick Boseman), but for treasure they buried 50 years ago. Grappling with the ongoing trauma of fighting on behalf of an imperialist empire with the fight for Black liberation raging—still—at home, Spike Lee imbues this story of memory and loss with both rage and humor. Though the old friends reunite during a few booze-filled days in slick Ho Chi Minh City, much of the action takes place in the jungle, both in flashback and present day. Wynn Thomas recalls spending “months in the jungle just walking around and trying to figure out where the scenes were going to take place.” Prior to filming on location in Vietnam and Thailand, Thomas scouted “big, huge vistas” and then “began to eliminate the sky from the movie, as the jungle begins to encroach on [Delroy Lindo’s character Paul].” The film’s climax takes place amid ancient temple ruins, designed and constructed by Thomas and a group of local artisans in a suburb of Chiang Mai City. Though the film was released on Netflix in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be the first opportunity in New York City to see Da 5 Bloods on the big screen.