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Spike Lee’s ‘Da 5 Bloods’ Review: A Rare Look at Black American Heroes

written by Kimberly Jones

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Spike Lee’s newest joint Da 5 Bloods tells the story of four Black vets who return to Vietnam years after they served to collect the remains of their dear friend and former commander Norman (Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman), and to recover the gold they buried there years ago.

The cinematography in the opening scene alone leaves the audience instantly intrigued and at the same time overwhelmed. A compilation of images and clips of Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Muhammad Ali, protests in the streets of the US and injured children in Vietnam are all eerily similar to the images we are still looking at today.

Paul, the self-professed “leader” of the group, played by Delroy Lindo (known from his iconic roles in Crooklyn and Malcolm X) returns to work with Lee for the fourth time. Otis (Clarke Peters from HBO’s The Wire), Eddie (Norm Lewis, Scandal), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr., The Wire) are having a long-overdue reunion with their bond and brotherhood still intact. Paul, the wild card of the group, commands the screen in every scene. He has several irrational outbursts throughout the film, as he suffers from PTSD but still is in denial about the severity of the situation. Paul is confrontational the majority of the film but he is also comical – him playing a Black Trump supporter wearing the MAGA hat and campaigning for “the wall” is pure comedy. His personality comes off as a little cold and selfish because he only cares about himself and about getting his hands on the buried gold that he feels he is entitled to. Paul has been hardened by life and it shows in his attitude and actions towards his “brothers”.

Da 5 Bloods is unique in the way that it takes viewers on an emotional roller coaster through the raw emotions of Black men dealing with grief and family struggles, and their difficult journey to find closure. Paul’s estranged son David (Jonathan Majors from HBO’s Lovecraft Country) unexpectedly shows up and adds to his father’s stress – the two have a strained relationship. David grew up feeling like an orphan, his mother died in childbirth and he always felt that his father blamed him for her death. Otis returned to a major surprise – he had a daughter that he had never met. Because she was biracial, his daughter was disowned by her family and her community. Sadly, racism and the war had robbed Otis of the precious time with his now adult daughter.

The buried gold in the movie represents what was owed to these soldiers for serving a country that never honored them. Not only were they not honored as veterans but as black men in America. They fought a war in Vietnam and returned only to fight a war at home. Eddie even brought up the idea that the gold should be used as reparations for Black Americans. Lee used this as a reference to the 40 acres and a mule, a post-Civil War promise that was made to Black Americans but never fulfilled. Paul quickly shuts this idea down, however. This is something that is owed to him personally, and he does not have the slightest intention of sharing it with anybody.

Some scenes included flashbacks to the Vietnam war. Lee did not use younger actors for these scenes, which is somewhat confusing and very unrealistic. Watching these older actors active in war scenes is awkward and takes away from the authenticity of the scene because it is distracting. Lee may have chosen this route because he wanted to portray these men as present-day heroes. Unfortunately, this may not have been the best choice for the audience.

Da 5 Bloods is a complex story that explores the effects of war on Black soldiers. This was long overdue since war blockbusters in Hollywood do not usually focus on these types of stories. This tale of brotherhood is a balanced mix of politics, humor, heroism, patriotism and sorrow. Lee brought his vision to life successfully with great visuals, performances and, of course, with Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On? as the soundtrack. Although the album came out in 1971, the lyrics are relevant to our world today.

Spike Lee always has a unique way of telling black stories and giving voices to the voiceless. This film is no different. Da 5 Bloods could not have come at a better time. With the current climate in our country, this story can get the attention that Black servicemen deserve.

Da 5 Bloods is now streaming on Netflix.

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Eddie Murphy Returns as Axel Foley in ‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’

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Eddie Murphy Axel F

Eddie Murphy reprises his role as the iconic Detective Axel Foley in the new action-packed trailer for ‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F.’

After a nearly 30-year hiatus, Eddie Murphy is back as Axel Foley in “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F.” The new trailer reveals that Foley returns to Beverly Hills to investigate the untimely death of a long-time confidant and to protect his daughter, whose life is in danger. Along the way, he teams up with a new partner, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and reunites with old friends Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and John Taggart (John Ashton).

Eddie Murphy Returns as Axel Foley in 'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F'
‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ /Netflix

In addition to Eddie Murphy and the original cast members returning, the new installment introduces some fresh faces to the franchise. Taylour Paige joins the cast as Axel Foley’s estranged daughter, Jane, a criminal defense attorney in Beverly Hills. Kevin Bacon stars as the Beverly Hills Police Department’s captain, Grant.

Eddie Murphy Returns as Axel Foley in 'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F'

‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ /Netflix

First introduced to audiences in 1984, “Beverly Hills Cop” quickly became a massive hit, thanks to Murphy’s charismatic portrayal of Axel Foley, a street-smart Detroit cop who finds himself in the luxurious and unfamiliar territory of Beverly Hills. Two sequels followed, in 1987 and 1994.

Eddie Murphy Returns as Axel Foley in 'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F'

‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ /Netflix

‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ is directed by Mark Molloy and written by Will Beall, Tom Gormican, and Kevin Etten. The action comedy is based on characters created by Danilo Bach and Daniel Petrie, Jr., with a story by Beall. Jerry Bruckheimer, who has been involved with the franchise since its inception, produced the fourth installment.

The film is set to launch on Netflix on July 3, 2024.

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Jeffrey Wright and Ilfenesh Hadera Join Denzel Washington in Spike Lee’s ‘High and Low’

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High and Low

In a highly anticipated collaboration, acclaimed actor Jeffrey Wright and Ilfenesh Hadera have joined the cast of Spike Lee’s upcoming film, ‘High and Low.’ The film, described as a reimagining of the classic Akira Kurosawa thriller, also stars Denzel Washington.

Known for his roles in films like ‘Basquiat,’ ‘The Hunger Games’ series, and ‘Westworld,’ Jeffrey Wright was most recently nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in American Fiction. His ability to embody complex characters and deliver powerful performances makes him a perfect fit for this new Spike Lee joint.

The upcoming film will mark a reunion for Hadera and Washington, who co-starred in ‘The Equalizer 2.’ The Godfather of Harlem star also previously collaborated with Lee on his acclaimed Netflix series ‘She’s Gotta Have It,’ based on his classic 1986 film and his movies ‘Chi-Raq’ and ‘Oldboy’.

‘High and Low’ also marks the fifth collaboration between Lee and Washington, who previously worked together on ‘Mo’ Better Blues,’ ‘He Got Game,’ ‘Inside Man,’ and ‘Malcolm X.’ Washington’s performance in ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’ was also released by A24.

The film is being developed and produced by A24, a production company known for its slate of thought-provoking and award-worthy films. It is described as a thriller and an English-language reinterpretation of Akira Kurosawa’s 1963 crime thriller, which told the story of a shoe executive who was in the middle of a complex corporate takeover when his plans were derailed by the accidental kidnapping and ransom of his chauffeur’s son instead of his son.

The film will begin production this month, with a theatrical release before its global launch on Apple TV+.

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‘Becoming King:’ A Behind-the-Scenes Look at David Oyelowo’s Journey to Portray Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In ‘Selma’ (trailer)

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Becoming King

Paramount+ released the trailer to ‘Becoming King,’ a documentary that chronicles the emotional and transformative journey of David Oyelowo as he took on the monumental task of portraying the legendary civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in the critically acclaimed film ‘Selma.’

David Oyelowo in Becoming King. Photo Credit: Jessica Oyelowo/Paramount+

Directed by Jessica Oyelowo, the actor’s wife and partner in Yoruba Saxon Productions, the documentary features behind-the-scenes footage, intimate home videos, and interviews with the cast and crew of ‘Selma.’

Seven years in the making, ‘Becoming King’ offers a close look at Oyelowo’s dedication to the historical project and its impact on his life and career. From the meticulous research that went into recreating the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery marches to the emotional toll the role took on the NAACP Image Award-winning actor, the doc is a deep dive into the making of a modern cinematic masterpiece.

Key Art for Becoming King, streaming on Paramount+, 2024. Photo Credit: Paramount+

The film is included in Paramount+’s Black Voices Collection and will launch this Monday, February 19, for Black History Month. 

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