J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

In the Blood: Gina Carano Misplaces Her Husband

You would think two recovering addicts would go to a tightly controlled “Club Med” environment for their honeymoon. Instead, the Grants visit the most corrupt island in the Caribbean. They stay on the wagon, but even more serious problems develop. When the new Mr. disappears, the new Mrs. will unleash all her street-fighting skills to find him in John Stockwell’s In the Blood (trailer here), the newest vehicle for MMA star Gina Carano, which opens this Friday.

Ava’s father Casey was an original hardcase, who taught her how to fight good and hard. Even during her strung out days, following his untimely demise, she could take care of her would be predators. She cleaned up when she met the well-heeled Derek Grant in rehab. His father is not exactly thrilled with their union, but has stopped fighting it. Aside from a little dust-up in a club, their honeymoon is all very sweet and romantic—until the zip-line accident.

Unfortunately, that is not even the worst of it. Mysteriously, the ambulance carrying Grant to the central hospital never arrives with the patient. Of course, the fat and lazy police chief is happy to shift suspicion onto his ex-junkie wife, finding a receptive ear in old man Grant. Determined to find her husband, Ava Grant sets out to give the Jack Bauer treatment to every lying witness and corrupt cop in her path.

In the Blood is a pretty straight forward martial arts programmer, but it maintains Carano’s viability as an action star. There are several down-and-dirty fight sequences that nicely showcase her chops. She also gets nice support from a colorful cast of supporting characters, including Luis Guzmán and Danny Trejo (who kills it in his final scene). It is also impressive to see Stephen Lang continues to get rougher and tougher with age during his brief flashback scenes as dear old dad. As a Twilight alumnus, Cam Gigandet does not inspire much confidence, but he manages to scratch out some okay chemistry with Carano.

For genre fans, In the Blood could be considered the rough equivalent of early Van Damme films. The plots were never extraordinary, but they were serviceable enough to build up his credibility as an action star and a romantic lead. In the Blood serves the same function for Carano, even with its unfortunate and potentially spoilery title. Stockwell does an okay job framing the action, but he is no Isaac Florentine, let alone a Dante Lam or Wilson Yip.

Still, Carano delivers on her end. She has screen presence and chops. In the Blood will not take her to the next level, but it will keep her existing fanbase engaged and ready for more. Enjoyable as a quality B-movie with serious MMA aptitude, In the Blood is recommended for genre enthusiasts when it opens this Friday (4/4) in New York.

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