Tuesday, 3 June 2014

IN THE BLOOD - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Gina Carano, Mixed Martial Artist and Hot New Action Babe Delivers

The Many Faces of GINA CARANO

Gina Carano CAT FIGHT!!!
In the Blood (2014) ***
Dir. John Stockwell
Starring: Gina Carano, Cam Gigandet, Luis Guzman, Amaury Nolasco, Ismail Cruz Cordova, Stephen Lang, Danny Trejo, Treat Williams

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Let's just get the obvious out of the way, shall we? Gina Carano, the longtime Mixed Martial Artist (MMA) is one ripe tomato - the girl is hotter than hot cross buns just out of the oven and certainly just as delectable. She's no pasty porcelain beanpole, though. This lady's a glistening, oily (of the extra virgin variety), olive-toned bearcat with a chassis that offers up more than a few handfuls of WOMAN. Oh, and WHAT a WOMAN!!!

She's the real thing, the sultry brown-eyed girl next door with a look that flips from "You're dead, motherfucker" to "Take care of me, Daddy." She's no whore-madonna, she's Little Orphan Annie dandling on your knee with an ambrosial smile that melts the coldest steel, but behind the adorable visage of sweetness and light is one kick-ya-where-the-good-Lord-split-ya Momma who's going to mince your meat if you so much as whisper an adversarial (or God help you, evil) utterance and/or display intentions less than honourable. She is danger incarnate and I for one, am delighted she's moved from professional fisticuffs in the ring, to tearing new assholes out of bad guys in movies like the new John Stockwell-directed action thriller In the Blood.

Many of us loved her Terminator-cool killing machine operative in Steven Soderbergh's Haywire (a clearly better film than In the Blood, but not quite as entertainingly B-picture-trashy), but what she displays here is a bit more range - not much, mind you, but enough so that she adds a considerable loveability factor to the mix. Basically, she gets to flash her smile a lot more and we're treated to a panoply of closeups that allow her facial dimples to work overtime. Damn, she's not only a babe, but cute as a button and there's nothing sexier than an adorable missy holding big guns, blades and anything she can get her hands on to maim and kill, but also marvelling at her hand-to-hand martial arts prowess.

The plot is pretty much your garden variety couple-in-foreign-country-on-honeymoon-get-into-trouble, but there are a couple of variations to keep things interesting. Ava (Carano) marries Derek (Cam Gigandet), the son of a well-heeled businessman (Treat "How The Once Mighty Have Fallen" Williams). The happy couple met in rehab (that's a nice change from the usual) and Dad thinks Ava's just a junkie gold digger, but he sees how calm and controlled sonny-boy is, so he tries to bite his tongue.

The couple head to Puerto Rico and we're forced to endure how happy they are together. They meet Manny (Ismail Cruz Cordova), a local party fixer for tourists who takes them to an out-of-the-way, but super-smokin' nightclub. The criminal element looms large here. We know this because Danny Trejo is hanging around with babes tending to his needs. When some of the macho lads try to put the make on Ava by beating up on her new hubby, she launches into the most astounding display of martial arts wizardry and clears the floor of a whole mess of bad dudes and even some dude-ettes.

Yup, cat fight action. This movie scores a few mega-points here.

Even though Manny led them to a dubious joint, they decide to follow him the next day to an insanely dangerous-looking extreme sporting park. Cam has a horrible accident and is rushed away by ambulance. Ava's not allowed to accompany him for "insurance reasons" and has to make her way to the hospital all by her lonesome. When she gets there - no trace of hubby. She checks all the hospitals and clinics and still no hubby. She visits the local police who are clearly corrupt as the Chief is played by Luis Guzman. The Chief is less than helpful and suspects Ava might have something to do with her husband's disappearance. This only intensifies when Treat Williams shows up. He's sure the little gold digger has something to do with his son's disappearance.

Things don't look too good for our heroine, but luckily, she's a champion mixed martial artist whose criminal Dad (Stephen Lang in flashback) has taught her to be a killing machine. It turns out that one of the gangsters in town (the slimily handsome Amaury Nolasco) is in need of a bone marrow transplant to save his life and is running a shady scheme to kidnap tourists and see if they're compatible matches. This is pretty stupid, but it gets points for being yet another oddball variation to the tropes this picture otherwise employs.

Director John Stockwell is no natural genre stylist, but he does, for the most part, keep much of the action clean, save for too many flashing lights mixed with occasional murkiness during the aforementioned set piece in the nightclub. The bottom line is this: we get to enjoy Gina Carano doing her thing. However, one only needs to place the best action direction from In the Blood up against the most dull action sequence in Haywire and there's no comparison. Haywire still wins in the bravura directorial sweepstakes of Gina breaking heads.

Few surprises are actually in store with this movie, but Carano is such a winning presence and the ass-kicking is so plentiful, that I can't imagine too many fans having a problem with the proceedings. I know I didn't, but then, I'm happy to watch Gina Carano engage in carnage any old time. She's even welcome to apply some carnage in my direction.

In the Blood is a Raven Banner presentation available on a Blu-Ray/DVD/Ultraviolet combo via Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada. Picture and sound are first-rate on the Blu-Ray, decent on the DVD and as-per-usual, not my cup of tea on the Ultra-Violet. Alas, the meagre extra feature - a better-than-average behind-the-scenes item - makes one wish there'd been more effort put into presenting added info and footage with respect to the first-rate stunt coordination and Gina's moves. An added feature-ette on her MMA career might have been a nice touch, also.

Feel free to order the film directly from the3 Amazon links below. If you love Gina, you can't go wrong.