Continuing our binge on Michael Jai White action treats, we come across a real gem of a movie. Blood and Bone is a thrill in more ways than one and hopefully, I won’t have to twist your arm in sweet grapple maneuver to convince you of it!
White has had a few chances to show himself as the leading man and he’s also had some roles where he was able to display his considerable skill as a martial artist, but only until recently has he really showcased his ability to do both. This role seems tailor made for him. Playing the tough and quiet type, White is the MMA equivalent of Clint Eastwood in a Spaghetti western. He breezes onto the street fighting scene and recruiting Dante Basco (Rufio from Hook) as his manager, he quickly rises in the ranks of the underworld of illegal street brawlers. Of course, he has an agenda at work, a clear mission that he can not be deterred from, but you’ll have to watch the movie to find out what it is.
The plot is simple and classic, perfect for the action genre and has clearly defined heroes and villains, but despite the other virtues of the film, the highest echelon of success for this flick is in the action choreography. All of the fight scenes are clear and distinctly shot and edited. While White usually provides his own choreography, at least some of the credit has to go to the director.
Ben Ramsey might not be a name that you immediately recognize but that is simply an oversight. My introduction to Ramsey came in the form of an audio commentary for the DVD release of the Big Hit. A fantastic film in it’s own right, it was one of the first movies I’d seen that combined Asian action and hip hop sensibilities successfully. It was funny and wicked and mean in just how much fun it was to watch. The cast was strong; before this Mark Wahlberg was just the scary kid from Fear. And when you combined him with Bokeem Woodbine (one of his best roles), Lou Diamond Philips, Avery Brooks, Christina Applegate and Lela Rochon, you really had something special. Of course, it had to be sculpted and divined from the proper script and that was a Ben Ramsey creation. So after hearing him on the commentary, I followed him to his next project, Love and A Bullet, not a direct sequel to the Big Hit, but supposedly in the same world and certainly attempting some if the same flavor although fighting around a much smaller budget. Treach was a good lead and this time Ben was directing with his friend Kantz. It’s been a while and now with Blood and Bone it feels like a completed trinity of Ramsey vehicles.
Aside from White and Basco, the cast is joined by master character actor Ron Yuan, Eamonn Walker and real MMA fighter Kimbo Slice. With such hard hitting action and solid direction, it’s pretty hard to find something to bitch about. Blood and Bone might be a sleeper hit, so make sure you don’t sleep on it.