02 03 Nerd Lunch: "Blood & Bone" is the best martial arts movie of the decade 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

"Blood & Bone" is the best martial arts movie of the decade

If I could pick one movie to live inside, it might be "Enter the Dragon." The life of a professional international tournament fighter probably has its drawbacks, but doesn't every career?

Michael Jai White, as those who have seen "Black Dynamite" already know, should be a much bigger star. Jason Statham big, anyway. He's a decent "serious" actor, built like Arnold, tons of charisma, and has some serious martial arts chops. And this is his first flat-out martial arts movie.

MJW stars as the mysterious mystery man of mystery, Bone, an ex-convict who quickly climbs the ranks of an illegal streetfighting league, pursuing an agenda that he keeps to himself and attracting the attention of a local crimelord named James.

James has an agenda, too --- he's trying to climb the ranks from local crimelord (with vaguely defined, fairly lucrative, but obviously small-time activities) to international super-villain. He wears awesome suits, quotes Ghengis Khan, hates profanity, and does kendo . . . all great stuff for an aspiring super-villain --- but he just hasn't gotten his shot at the big time, in part because the cabal of evil Eurotrash he's trying to break into is sort of racist (as cabalist Julian Sands explains in a wonderfully acted scene). You can't help but like James --- he's trying to play the part, and he admits that he still has a long way to go to become the man he's trying to be. And when he gets outmaneuvered by Bone, he starts to fall apart.

And the fights . . . no wire work, no CG, and some outstanding camera work and choreography. A martial arts movie should be shot like a Gene Kelly movie --- lots of long full-body shots where we can see the flow of the movement and the skill of the participants. "Blood and Bone" delivers --- none of this short, choppy, shaky-cam stuff. A good mixture of fighting styles are displayed, from brutal prison bumrushes to MMA to some more upscale kickboxing, and it's all done with a bit more realism than has become typical in this sort of movie.
35 36 37 38