Trevor Wang’s review published on Letterboxd:
Check out my Best of 2020 list
"We’ve been dying for this country from the very get! We give this gold to our people." -- Norman
Da 5 Bloods cannot be more relevant to the current world than in recent history. It is so rich with its thought-provoking messages and various themes from the Vietnam War to the never ending war of African American civil rights.
Bound by lifelong friendships, 4 veterans reunite on an adventure to recover their late squad leader's remains and hidden gold. While they enjoy each other's company and the revitalized Vietnam, their past intertwines with their present with flashbacks and memories. This journey becomes a quest of understanding the idea of heroism, black identity, and systematic oppression in American history. Dominant historiography only maps out a white America fighting for the right cause, when in reality, countless black soldiers sacrifice in the forefront where they cannot even find their own place afterwards. Needless to say how many Vietnamese people suffered and died from the atrocities which is called by the locals the American War.
In terms of film art, the plot is extremely intriguing and allows diverse characters with different personalities and motifs confront each other and combat for the cause they each believe in. The contrasting cinematography of the past in typical Hollywood square ratio and the present in wide format is vividly captured. The dialogue is also very compelling with such distinct morals and perspectives of identity, life and death. Meanwhile, Spike Lee juxtaposes the Vietnam War with the ongoing war for black civil rights since the American Revolution. The use of historical images and photography demonstrates remarkable mini history lessons carefully crafted by Lee.
In every aspect, Da 5 Bloods is unique and stylish, in turn reflecting the political landscape the world is in right now.