Four African American veterans return to Vietnam to hunt for gold and the lost remains of their fallen leader, Stormin’ Norman. From the beginning it is clear that this is no return to glory, but a story of unfinished business.

The film jumps through time, creating a dichotomy between what the Bloods were fighting for and what they’ve been left with. A very affecting scene sees them listening to Viet Cong propaganda, sympathetic to the injustice towards Black GIs. Any sense of patriotism or American glory normally found in war films is conspicuously absent. Lee instead shows the war as a complex mess, reflected in the lives of the four men.

Lee’s imagery of Norman is particularly powerful, as he teaches his comrades about Black history, encouraging them to use the gold to advance Black liberation. He is an almost mythic figure (strong parallels are drawn between his death and the assassination of MLK), and when in his company the past, ironically, feels safer for the Bloods than the present.

Lee inserts real footage and photography of Black activists, soldiers and icons. While the film has moments of levity and a sense of adventure, the constant presence of history reminds the audience that this is not a work of fiction. It gives a huge weight to the film; the Vietnam war becomes a single moment in a struggle hundreds of years old. The Bloods do not seek to defend America but fight for the America that does not yet exist.

A timely and a timeless film, as entertaining as it is informative and emotional, and bolstered by consistently strong performances. Lee directs with his usual flair and style, but with a driven sense of purpose in inverting the war genre, changing Vietnam from mere mindless horror to a clear injustice.


Available to watch on: Netflix


CAST: Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Norm Lewis, Chadwick Boseman


WRITERS: Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Kevin Wilmott, Spike Lee

SYNOPSIS: Four veterans return to Vietnam in search of lost gold. As they journey they reflect on their past and struggle to make peace with their present.