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Spike Lee tackles Vietnam in new film about vets trying to retrieve remains of fellow soldier

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Academy Award-winning director Spike Lee is no stranger to using cinema as a platform to tackle controversial topics, and his new film slated to arrive in June on Netflix seems poised to deliver on that same formula.

“Da 5 Bloods” is Lee’s (“Malcolm X,” “25th Hour”) story of four African American veterans, now in their 70s, who return to Vietnam to search for the remains of their fallen squad leader, played during wartime flashbacks by actor Chadwick Boseman (“42,” “Black Panther,” “Get On Up”), and the gold stash he helped them hide decades earlier.

Actors Delroy Lindo (“Ransom,” “Get Shorty”) and Norm Lewis (“Gotham,” “Blue Bloods”) join Clarke Peters and Isiah Whitlock, Jr. — two actors instantly recognizable to fans of the iconic HBO series, “The Wire” — as the four veterans, Netflix announced. Paul Walter Hauser (“Richard Jewell,” “I, Tonya”) and Jonathan Majors (“The Last Black Man in San Francisco”) also star.

Archival footage of Vietnam and contentious moments back in the United States, such as the Kent State shootings, are scattered throughout the trailer to set the tone for a film that is sure to scrutinize the turbulent racial dynamics of the time.

Speaking to Vanity Fair, Lee discussed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King as an incident that forces the film’s characters to confront the possibility of dying thousands of miles away for a nation that did not value their lives at home.

“Let me tell you a story,” Lee told Vanity Fair. “The United States Armed Forces came close to being torn apart when black soldiers heard that Dr. King was assassinated.

“They also heard that their brothers and sisters were tearing shit up in over 100 cities across America. The tipping point came very close; the black soldiers were getting ready to set it off in Vietnam — and not against the Vietcong either.”

If the trailer is any indication, Lee, whose 2018 film “BlacKkKlansman” earned Oscar nominations for best film and best director, employed unique filming techniques to distinguish Vietnam War period flashbacks featuring Boseman from scenes set in the present day.

Smaller aspect ratios and added granularity, for example, help blend antiquated sequences with the archival footage and filming capabilities of the 1960s and ’70s.

“Da 5 Bloods” lands on Netflix on June 12.

Watch the trailer below.

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