Da 5 Bloods

‘Da 5 Bloods’ finds director Spike Lee exploring African America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Examining the emotional aftermath, ‘Da 5 Bloods’ also has much to say about 1960’s race relations. As with his previous work, ‘Da 5 Bloods’ isn’t a dry historical essay, having a mostly captivating mix of drama, humour and action. This isn’t something Lee often has in his films but it adds to his flair for gritty realism and relatable characters no matter the time period.

Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis) and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jnr) are Vietnam veterans returning to Vietnam. Their goals are to find the body of their former Squad Leader Norm (Chadwick Boseman) and buried treasure found decades ago. As they search through the Vietnamese jungle, the men deal with past and current regrets while clearing a path for the future.

At its heart, ‘Da 5 Bloods’ explores the impact war had on everyone including opposite sides of the conflict. Some were able to rebuild their lives better than others, with a few unaware of how wartime experiences changed those around them. Spike Lee’s strongly written characters are strong individuals with their unique personalities presenting unexpected moments along their journey.

Spike Lee is generally a good story-teller although ‘Da 5 Bloods’ suffers from his usual excess. Whilst it’s interesting viewing, his narrative touches wanders off into tangents that either don’t make sense drags the pacing. The mood and music of the era are well presented with the cast diving into their multi-faceted roles with gusto.

War is always hell but so is its ongoing influence as ‘Da 5 Bloods’ shows. Although not consistently engaging, it’s still a fairly solid film in Lee’s cinematic repertoire. Whatever the quality of his films, Lee is always a director whose films have enough value worthy of watching and thinking about long after their end credits.

Rating out of 10: 6


Monster Hunter

Paul W.S. Anderson is no stranger directing videogame to movie adaptations. Overseeing the first ‘Mortal Kombat’ instalment, ‘Alien vs Predator’ and the ‘Resident Evil’ franchise, Anderson has had a long career in capturing gaming battles on screen. Based on a popular gaming console series, ‘Monster Hunter’ is more of the same. As with the ‘Resident Evil’ films, ‘Monster Hunter’ stars his wife Milla Jovovich. They make a fine duo with their action orientated hijinks almost like their own version of cinematic marital bliss.

Captain Artemis (Milla Jovovich) is a US Army Ranger leading an elite military force. Falling through a magical portal, they land in a world populated by huge monsters. Whilst exploring this strange planet, they meet a hunter (Tony Jaa), a skilled warrior who can fight the giant beasts. Using his abilities to survive in the savage world, Artemis and her motley crew do what they must in battling the gargantuan creatures while looking for a way home.

The best one can say about ‘Monster Hunter’ is it sets out what its meant to be - a completely over the top action romp with dashes of humour and lots of action. If you’re after subtlety and emotional scenes then you’re watching the wrong film. ‘Monster Hunter’ exists to sell more videogame merchandise as well as give Anderson an excuse to spend a fortune on endless CGI and eye-popping stunts.

No one gives much of a performance although Jovovich has a good presence as a badass chick. ‘Monster Hunter’s script is limited to the film-maker’s imagination as each ridiculous scenario plays out with little restraint. The action is spectacular, the score suitably bombastic and the pacing zipping along to the predictably silly finale.

Once again Anderson has created another empty-headed popcorn flick. In this dark era of real news elsewhere, that isn’t a completely bad thing as it provides escapist fun. Viewer’s brain cells won’t get much of a work-out watching it with Anderson’s technical skills continuing to him corner the market in thrilling gaming escapades.

Rating out of 10: 6