September 7, 2009
Directed by Ben Ramsey, Blood and Bone is a direct-to-DVD martial arts movie, released on September 15, 2009 via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The movie stars Michael Jai White, Julian Sands, Eamonn Walker, Dante Basco, Nona Gaye, and Michelle Belegrin.
Leading character Michael Jai White, assuming the role as Isaiah Bone, delivers a stand-alone and explosive performance like none other. The tagline of the movie, In A World Without Rules, He Makes His Own, and subtitle, Destroy Your Enemy, say it all and could not be more fitting.
When Bone is released from prison, he rents a small room in a moderate house from Angela (Nona Gaye), a foster mother, and prepares his mission. He later goes to an underground fight scene and watches from afar. He makes his way into the car of Pinball (Dante Basco), a fight organizer, and convinces him to put him in a fight with any fighter to prove himself. The fight is quickly organized and he wins. Thereafter, Pinball not only becomes his friend but his unofficial manager.
Although Bone wins money through his fights, these fights are not driven primarily by money but rather a “take care of my wife and kid” promise – a promise that he realizes will only be fulfilled if he gets into the underworld of street fighting and befriends and shakes hands with the enemy. Thus, that is exactly what he does.
Blood and Bone is no doubt one of the best martial arts films in years. It is not the typical fight movie, where the main character goes to various scenes to fight the best fighters and crowned the champion after he defeats the most-feared/best fighter at the end. Blood and Bone is much more; it has a story line (that is well written), a purpose (that is driven by reunion), and a promise (that Bone fulfils at the end).
When he completes his mission, he leaves. Instead of taking a ride from Pinball, he walks down the street and into the sunlight with his backpack on his back like a lone warrior. This scene resembles the final scene of Street Fighter 2: The Animated Movie, where Ryu takes the same route (until evil Bison comes driving down the road in a semi truck with a wicked smile on his face). This film ends perfectly and has room for a sequel.
In fact, Blood and Bone typifies a perfect film for White, because he is a professional martial artist who holds seven black belts in various disciplines; again, 7 black belts. More important, what he shows in this film is something that should not be missed by anyone with an eye.
White lights up the screen with his awe-inspiring fighting style from start to finish. The first scene (i.e., prison bathroom) of the movie depicts that when he takes out five-plus antagonists in quick fashion, leaving them bloodied, mangled, shocked and confused. As the storyline progresses, White continues his damage in every fight scene. Not only does he destroy his contenders, but he obliterates them and leaves spectators dumbstruck and looking at one another with the “who-what-when-where-how” questions: who is this guy; what is he made of; when did he learn these killer moves; where did he come from; and how in the world did he do that with his hands and feet? In no way is this an exaggeration; viewers who watch this film will perhaps have the same sentiments and ask the same questions and more.
Besides his prowess in martial arts, White’s acting should not be overlooked, for he delivers his role flawlessly. He is nefarious when he has to be, kind when he has to be, passionate when he has to be, and cool and subdued when his role calls for it. He excels in every facet and brings character Bone to life.
Some may assume that White is a newcomer, but he is not; rather, he is a veteran in the movie industry and his filmography speaks for itself with more than 30 appearances (e.g., Spawn, 1997; Universal Soldier: The Return, 1999; Trois 2: Pandora’s Box, 2002; Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing, 2006; Why Did I Get Married, 2007). He may not be as famous as Denzel Washington or Will Smith, but he represents a great actor. When he is featured in a film (or TV series), he does a noble job and delivers; his lastest role is no different.
In closing, Blood and Bone typifies the ultimate example of how a martial arts film should be made, with a passionate storyline and purpose, and not just a fight-only movie that ignores plot and reason. This movie is bursting with action and entertainment, not to mention, it is the real deal. Director Ben Ramsey, writer Michael Andrews, and every soul that participated in completing this film did an amazing job by rendering an A+ film.
However, there is one major flaw with this movie; it has nothing to do with the movie itself but rather the movie’s distribution and handling. Surprisingly, this movie is a straight-to-DVD release and was not shown in theaters. With so many terrible movies being channeled through movie theaters, it is a shame that this movie, which is directed by a Black man and stars a Black man, did not have that chance. Movie studios need to get their act together, because this film should not have been allocated straight to DVD. If studios can waste time and money releasing trash for public view in theaters, there is no doubt that a studio could have given Blood and Bone a proper big-screen presentation. Hollywood needs to wake up.
(This film also features MMA fighters Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson, Bob Sapp, and the beautiful Gina Carano; the striking new face of “All My Children,” Shannon Kane, makes a brief appearance.)
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Originally published Sept. 7, 2009 via now-defunct Examiner.com