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January 2010

Blood and Bone

cast: Michael Jai White, Julian Sands, Eamonn Walker, Dante Brasco, and Bob Sapp

director: Ben Ramsey

90 minutes (15) 2009
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Momentum DVD Region 2 retail
[released 25 January]

RATING: 7/10
review by James A. Stewart

Blood And Bone

Here we are treated to some kick-ass martial arts as Isiah Bone (Michael Jai White) is a man on a mission with nothing but revenge his mind. The opening scene in the movie is a classic toilet-in-prison-with-new-guy-about-to-get-beaten-and-possibly-violated-by-a-gang-of-thugs scene. But, the new guy is tougher than Begbie and can fight like Bruce Lee. And so, proceeds to waste half-a-dozen bad guys in the blink of an eye, and the closest he comes to injury is when he pulls up his zip before the fight. Isiah Bone is introduced in all his glory in this scene.

There is little left to the imagination Blood And Bone when it comes to plot structure or even character development; the latter point we will revisit. For a thirty-something like me, watching this move was like stepping back in time to the glory days of Van Damme. There are echoes of Bloodsport in Blood And Bone as Bone sets about ingratiating himself in the brutal world of underground fighting. Cue lots of scenes with lots of blood and lots more muscle.

For anyone even vaguely familiar with the MMA, the cameos in this film are like a who's who of MMA stars, and this adds to the authenticity of the fights scenes, which are generally well choreographed but not eye-poppingly brilliant. What is laudable is that director Ben Ramsey does at least get the best fight in at the close. As a genre martial arts film this is an excellent show, filled with fancy kicks, knockout punches and more fake-blood than a vegetarian vampire's lunch, and in many ways Ramsey plays a clever game of really focusing on the strengths within his cast.

Jai White is critical to this. In Isiah Bone we have a troubled man out to fulfil a promise of revenge and one who thinks three moves ahead in and out of the ring. I am bit troubled by the lack of clarity of his backstory, but hey, that'll be in 'Blood And Bone II', no doubt. In terms of the development of Bone, aside from the fact he seems loyal, meek and deadly, there is nothing else revealed. Dante Basco is a right royal pain as the would-be manager of Bone. His character, Pinball, attempts to portray the gab of any Joe Pesci mob character, but instead sounds like the annoying kid that always sat next to you at school.

On the opposite side of the coin from Basco, there is a notable performance Eamonn Walker as 'James', the bad guy. He hams the role up superbly and whilst the whole movie is a nit corn-fest when it comes to dialogue, there should be no doubt that for the budget this is a decent flick, spoiled only by the rather stuttering attempts to reveal Bone's motivations a result of the cumbersome acting and directing at this point. To be honest, a few flying kicks later I had forgiven Ramsey for this.

I hope to see more of Jai White in this kind of role in the future, and there are a couple of interesting projects in the pipeline for the talented martial artist. His fighting is as good as Van Damme, nearly as good as Seagal, and his acting is no worse than theirs - which is not too much of a compliment. In fact, he is marginally better. If you want some mindless karate-kicking fun, then give Blood And Bone a go.



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