Da 5 Bloods, above all else, takes risk.
In the sequences that take “The Bloods” back to their Vietnam days, Lee opted to use the same actors as the present-day scenes. To distinguish the two periods, Lee employed a fuzzy camera filter, and a square screen as opposed to the widescreen, HD format of the lion’s share of the film.
That, however, is the least of the risk. The screen frequently switches to real photos and videos of the Vietnam war, including a picture of a massacred infant. Suffice it to say, those less keen on violence, won’t find Da 5 Bloods enjoyable in the least.
Fans will need patience too. The 150-minute film takes about one hour to build to a climax, but after paying the piper, they find themselves in for a 90 minute roller coaster ride of blood, death, shock and sadness.
The risk stood out, but the screenplay set the film over the top. Screenwriters Lee, Kevin Willmott, Danny Bilson, and Paul De Meo steer-clear of the classic Hollywood tropes, and make every word uttered feel authentic. Oftentimes, Da 5 Bloods feels more like a documentary than a fictional story.
Coming off Blackkklansman’s disappointing Best Picture loss to Green Book,Lee is poised to have another of his films in the running, and for this critic, it is the clear leader in the clubhouse. In that same breath, do not anticipate the ivory tower Academy to give this brash display the credit it deserves.
Bottom line: credit to Lee for releasing a Vietnam War movie without “Fortunate Son” in the soundtrack.