This one has been on my watch list for a very long time now and it’s for one simple reason – it stars Michael Jai White. You may know him from Spawn but you should know him from Black Dynamite. That was a movie that sprang up out of nowhere for me and yet quickly become one of my go to comedies. It’s both a parody and an homage to the Blaxploitation genre and its essential viewing.
This is MJW (you really expect me to type out his full name every time?) in different form. In Black Dynamite he got to showcase his fighting skills but primarily he got to fully show off his comedic chops. Here there is very little humour as his character is a stoic badass and there is a much greater focus on MJW’s ability to thoroughly kick someone’s ass.
The opening scene is great and actually sets a precedent that is hard to match for the rest of the movie. MJW is in a prison bathroom when a gang comes in to rape and murder him. It doesn’t faze him in the slightest and he gives them the classic “count to 5” to get the hell out of there. He barely reaches four before beating the shit out of everyone in the room and my god does this man have skills. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a good double jump kick but you get a couple of ‘em here and also a guy getting chopped in the stomach after he is already horizontal in the air from a previous hit. It’s great stuff. Then MJW tells them all not to fuck with him and BAM SMASH TO THE TITLE! Now that’s how you start a god damn movie!
Shortly after being released from prison, Bones joins an underground fighting circuit where his ability to destroy any fighter within seconds grabs people’s attention. Bones seems especially interested in another fight manager James, along with his wife. The story is quite simple as we uncover the details as to why Bones is doing what he’s doing and while it’s certainly not the most original tale, it’s the characters that make it fun to watch.
James makes for a fun villain. In one of his scenes he murders a guy with a sword while Dance Hall Days plays in the background. This movie is clearly fantastic at introducing characters. He has a few unique qualities such as a hatred of swearing, that helps raise him above the level of stock action movie villain. However it’s the Bones character that makes the movie completely worth it. We learn almost nothing about Bones throughout the course of the movie. Hell we don’t even know if that’s his name, it’s just what he first tells the promoter to call him. We never find out why he was in prison, where he learned how to fight, or really anything at all. It’s actually kind of refreshing. You keep waiting for the scene where he lays out his whole tearful backstory to somebody but it never happens. He comes in, does what he set out to do, and then literally walks off into the sunset.
I’ve seen a few people complain that the fight scenes are too one sided and they most certainly are. Bones annihilates his opponents and they almost never lay a finger on him. I liked it though. Sometimes it’s fun to watch an unstoppable force just lay waste to everything in sight. How can you not love it when a character that has been built up as the ultimate opponent is laid out in 1 second with a single brutal kick?
Though the best part about the action scenes, and this is something that obviously will be coming up a lot during this marathon, is that you can fucking see what is happening! Big budget action movies need to take a lesson from this flick and learn that fight scenes are 100% always better when you can see the fighting. It sounds like the most basic notion on the planet but almost nobody gets it right anymore! When did Hollywood decide “people don’t want clear action shots anymore. They’re all about blurry, confusing nonsense so can you edit this fight so that it’s impossible to tell what you’re looking at?” I swear when I watched Taken 2 not that long ago, I was never certain if I was watching Liam Neeson fight a Russian dude or two gorillas hugging or two mimes trapped in glass boxes or who knows what. Blood and Bone knows to set the camera down, keep it still, and just let the action unfold. It’s a damn miracle! Sadly I just remembered that the movie was made 5 years ago and clearly Hollywood didn’t get the message. It’s just these smaller budgeted productions like Blood and Bone and the recently released Ninja 2 that seem to get it.
Blood and Bone is a mediocre story that is brought to life with great action and a terrific badass performance by Michael Jai White. It’s a damn fun watch and further evidence that a big budget does not mean better action.