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Da 5 Bloods


Stars: Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Chadwick Boseman, Jonathan Majors, Melanie Thierry, Jean Reno, Norm Lewis, Johnny Nguyen

Director: Spike Lee

Part polemic and part action-adventure, Spike Lee's new 'joint' is a huge disappointment as a follow-up to his Oscar-winning BlacKkKlansman. The two sides of his latest movie grate uneasily against each other, as it emerges almost like - forgive the irreverence - a Quentin Tarantino film directed by Martin Luther King. And it seems to go on for days. Enough of hacking through the Vietnamese jungle (location shooting in Thailand) already!

Performances, though, are mighty good, especially Lindo, who has the plum role of Paul, a giant-sized, super-aggressive, mentally fragile Vietnam vet who, with three ex-colleagues, returns to the country 25 years on to reclaim a fortune in gold bars that the 'bloods' buried after finding it in a crashed plane.

Throughout, the action is punctuated (some might say fractured) by 'activist' newsreels, featuring figures from the past and atrocities against black people down the ages. Less of these and tighter editing on the '25 years later' scenes would have strengthened the film quite considerably.

There's a sharp semi-cameo from the late Boseman, as Stormin' Norman, the leader of the bloods, who was killed in 1971 Vietnam, and another, rather less effective, from Reno, as the Frenchman funding the bloods' expedition. They find the gold - but then there's the return journey...

There's a twist towards the end involving Boseman's character's death, but it comes too late to invigorate an interest that has wavered long before.

David Quinlan

USA/Thailand/France 2020. UK Distributor: Netflix. Colour by Company 3.
156 minutes. Mainly widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 03 Jan 2021