Fight Flicks is a new recurring column on CagePotato that focuses on overlooked, underrated, or just plain awesome fight-centric films. This week, we’re reviewing Gina Carano’s ziplining-gone-wrong revenge flick, In the Blood.
That rumors of Gina Carano‘s potential MMA return continue to dominate headlines despite her five year absence from the sport says a lot about the level of popularity she ascended to while fighting for Strikeforce, a since-deceased fight promotion that many of her current fans might not know ever existed. Carano’s recent turns in Haywire and Fast & Furious 6 have not only exposed her to an entirely new legion of fans, thusly fueling their/our desire to see her compete again, but have paved the way for tough, attractive female fighters like her (Ronda Rousey, for instance) to follow in her footsteps.
Somewhere between Haywire and her upcoming all-women Expendables riff, however, came In the Blood, a so-called “Female Taken set in the Caribbean” that hit movie stands on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD yesterday.
Directed by John Stockwell — who really, really seems to enjoy placing his movies on or around tropical islands – and co-starring Cam Gigandet, Luiz Guzman, and the incomparable Danny Trejo, In the Blood aka “Gina Carano Ain’t Got Time to Bleed” takes your run-of-the-mill revenge flick and attempts to inject new life into it by making the protagonist…a woman (*record scratch*). GIF-tacular hijinks ensue, but you already knew that.
In the Blood opens with Carano’s Ava informing us via monologue that her father was a baaaad man who taught her all the stuff (also, things) necessary to be an emotionless killing machine growing up. We’re not told why Ava’s dad was such a hardened survivalist, but we do know that when he is gunned down before her, 15-year-old Ava who looks nothing like Ava proceeds to hand out buckshot like flavored Tootsie rolls at a 4th of July parade to the men who did it.
Cut to her wedding day, where Ava’s husband, Derek (Gigandet), is receiving the worst pump-up speech ever from his dickhead father, Treach Williams. You see, Derek and Ava met in rehab or something, and all Derek’s family knows about her is that she comes from a shady past. Therefore, she’s a golddigger who aint messing with no broke…well, you get the idea. But before Daddy Treach can even force his son to sign a prenup, the two jet off for a Caribbean honeymoon that includes lots of canoodling, jetskiing, and thank Christ, lip-biting.
Ava can barely finish cleaning the hot, steamy sex that the director somehow forgot to include in this film off her before she is approached by Caribbean Justin from American Idol, who whisks the newlywed couple away to a nightclub where they are almost immediately accosted by Danny Trejo, aka Big Biz. Ava goes agro on some bitches while her weakling husband watches in the background, like so:
Easily the biggest issue with this scene (besides the bottle throw, the flying armbar, or the glass smash), was the lack of attention paid to Carano’s world-renowned dancing abilities in the moments prior, which were all but lost amidst the neon lights and frantic editing pace.
The next day, Ava and Derek still trust Caribbean Justin enough to join him for a ziplining adventure, which quickly devolves into an episode of “I Should Have Never Gone Ziplining” when Derek plummets from the aptly-named “Widowmaker.” Paramedics soon arrive, and through a series of plot contrivances, Derek vanishes without a trace. A standoff with crooked cops (including the consistently excellent Luiz Guzman as the police chief) ensues before Ava is forced to hunt down every last hapa on the island to find the love of her life, who it bears repeating is a frail girly-man played by Cam Gigandet.
Truthfully, In the Blood occupies a weird space in the action-thriller genre. While it’s drawn several aforementioned comparisons to Taken, it lacks both the intensity and the direction to satisfy fans hoping for something along those lines, while being far too dumb to be enjoyed by anyone seeking an even mildly inventive, conspiracy-type thriller. The film’s plot developments are delivered in such a nonchalant, on-the-fly manner that it’s hard to really invest anything in what’s being said or the people saying it, and the film’s Bourne-esque editing often obscures more of the action sequences than it shows. To make a bad pun, In the Blood lacks “Conviction,” especially so in the case of Carano’s often monotone line delivery.
That’s not to say that there’s nothing to like in In the Blood. Action movie fans looking for a mindless escape punctuated by a few decent fight scenes will surely appreciate watching Carano kill a man with a spoon, torture another with a pen, and thrust a shovel through a cop’s face like a goddamn episode of The Walking Dead. MMA fans looking to see Carano throw leg kicks, flying armbars, and superman punches (which seem to be the only “MMA moves” that Hollywood has become aware of) will be equally satisfied. Carano also looks great in the movie, as she’s wont to do, and I already mentioned the fact that she does the lip-bite thing, which by itself raises my rating of In the Blood one and a half thumbs plus a gold star.
For a movie that serves little other purpose than showcasing Carano’s already documented fighting skills and let’s say developing acting abilities, In the Blood is able to deliver for the most part, all the way up to its abrupt and utterly crazypants ending. While it lacks the punch (no pun intended) to be held in the same light as Taken or even Taken 2, it’s certainly not the worst action flick you’ll come across, and did I mention that this happens?
Enter to win a DVD/Blu-ray copy of In the Blood over at our Fight Night 42 Fight-Picking Contest.