(Ben Ramsey, 2009)
A fight movie reminiscent of the low budget, often straight-to-video b-movies starring the likes of Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme from the late 1980s and early 90s, Blood and Bone, while stuffed with cliches, succeeds splendidly on its own narrow terms.
Those cliches are wholeheartedly executed; with Michael Jai White's hero "Bone" a stoic, invincible superwarrior akin to a Western hero who fights his way through the LA Underground fighting scene on a specific mission of vengeance, taking on several quirkily individual fighters as he goes, all while becoming emotionally attached to the warm home of a foster mother and her children in a gang-infested area. His ultimate opponent is James, a sociopathic, upwardly mobile, Genghis Khan-quoting, samurai sword-wielding gangster played with effective intensity by Eamonn Walker. The drama is strictly second-rate, competently written and acted, and the few stabs at comedy barely register.
In a movie like this, action is everything, and Blood and Bone gets the action just right. Director Ramsey shoots many of the fights in single takes so that the action flows and the skills of the combatants are best displayed. The cuts he does choose are never gratuitous, and generally enhance the visceral impact of the events they frame. Many of the fighters are experienced MMA veterans, and while, as an actor, Michael Jai White seems capable of just one facial expression, he possesses undeniable charisma as a physical performer, while lacking the grace of a Jet Li or the comedic chutzpah of Jackie Chan, his explosive speed and power are beautifully captured here in some fantastically satisfying fight scenes. Even better, for fans of this sort of material, the ending promises a sequel, as Bone literally walks off into the sunset.