Vietnam War veterans spotlighted in ‘Da 5 Bloods’ (Merecedes’ review, July 15)


by Merecedes Williams, For New Pittsburgh Courier

It has been two and half decades since veteran actor Delroy Lindo and Academy Award-winning director Spike Lee hooked up for a feature film. The pair reunited for Netflix’s recent release, “Da 5 Bloods,” a tale of five Vietnam War veterans who return to Asia to tie up some loose ends.

Lindo portrays Paul, a veteran suffering with PTSD, wrestling with some war secrets, and battling with a “fractious” relationship with his son. Even in this vulnerable role, he is fierce, strong, and proves why he works well with a visionary like Lee.

“I needed to do this,” said Lindo, referring to his part in the film.

In a virtual roundtable hosted by the African American Film Critics Association, Lindo told me, “Spike inviting me to be part of his projects has gifted me with these brilliant characters to play as an actor.” Lindo has graced us with his presence in three Spike Lee joints previously—Malcolm X (1992), Crooklyn (1994) and Clockers (1995).

“That’s a gift to any actor that a creative worker of Spike’s statute would just call you and say, ‘hey man, come do this,’ not only the invitation to participate in the work, but the content of the part,” Lindo said.

There is an undeniable alchemy when Spike Lee is sitting in the director’s chair and Delroy Lindo is on the other side of the camera. Both Lee and Lindo admitted some of the most powerful scenes in the movie are opportunities where Lindo and the cast improvised, such as the riverboat market scene and when Lindo’s character breaks off from the group.

Give Delroy Lindo his flowers now. He continues to solidify his seat with the Hollywood greats, and he is tremendously talented.

Also starring Chadwick Boseman, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Norm Lewis, Clarke Peters and Jonathan Majors, “Da 5 Bloods,” even in 2.5 hours, is hard not to watch. The suspense, intensity, and striking attractiveness of war brothers coming together calls for a really good cinematic picture.

This film is a dark reminder that Black soldiers went halfway around the world defending a country where they were barely free. Black servicemen fought on the front lines in Vietnam, while their brothers and sisters fought for voting, desegregation, and basic civil liberties.

The Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War were running congruently. Dr. King, Malcolm X, and JFK were all assassinated during this time. Imagine being a freedom fighter or person of color fighting a war abroad when there’s a war in your own backyard.

For millennials like myself, “Da 5 Bloods” is definitely an eye-opener. Even in fiction, the drops of relevant, thought-provoking history is cause for deeper conversation about how Black people respond to war and the sacrifices a Black solider endures. I did not know much about the Vietnam War before watching this film, but I am now on a journey to find out more.

That is powerful remnants of a great film.

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