BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT: BOUND BY HONOR (Director’s Cut Edition)
Copyright Company and Date: Hollywood Pictures, 30 April 1993
Submitted by zelmo73THE CHARACTERSMiklo
– Our hero on the inside. Has daddy issues, hates having blue eyes, and has no problem sucking on a grown man’s finger to get ahead in life. Loses one of his legs to Paco’s dead-eye aim.Cruz
– An auto painter turned fine arts painter and tattoo artist (must be where the love for needles and syringes comes from.) Miklo’s cousin. Gets his back broken over a fire hydrant by Spider and his Tres Puntos
– Benjamin Bratt! Miklo’s other cousin. Joins the Marines (you’d like this guy, Andrew) after Miklo gets thrown into San Quentin for killing Spider. Becomes a cop in order to perfect his dead-eye aim.Spider
– Head of Tres Puntos
, a local rival of the Vatos Locos
gang. Shot through the liver from an impressively long distance by Miklo’s .38 Special.Popeye
– Almost becomes the hot dog in Miklo’s bun in San Quentin before becoming his landlord on the outside. Rats out Miklo via an anonymous tip to Paco the Policeman, who subsequently amputates Miklo’s leg with his dead-eye aim during a heist. Big Al
– Technically, you could call him Big Gay Al like the guy in the South Park
TV show, but we live in more politically correct times now, so naturally that would be discouraged. The head cook in the San Quentin kitchen as well as a heavy hitter under the protection of the Aryan Vanguard. Gets his finger sucked on before getting shanked to death by Miklo. Ouch.Montana
– Head of La Onda
, a big bad Latino gang in San Quentin, who becomes Miklo’s mentor while on the inside. Stuck like a turkey on Thanksgiving until dead while freshening up to see his daughter. Ouch.Magic Mike
– Montana’s sidekick at first. Then later on becomes Miklo’s right hand man. A big loyal teddy bear with a very handsome mustache.Bonafide
– Delroy Lindo! Head of the Black Guerilla Army in San Quentin, and one of Montana’s main adversaries. Either killed by multiple shanks or by Magic Mike’s big long ugly blade through the back of the neck, depending on which version of the movie that you watch (I reviewed the unrated Director’s Cut Edition.)Red Ryder
– Head of the Aryan Vanguard in San Quentin, and Montana’s other main adversary. Torched to a fine barbecued crisp by Bonafide.Lightning
– Billy Bob Thornton! Henchman for the Aryan Vanguard…and that’s about it. Strangled to death by La Onda
– Tom Wilson! Paco’s police detective partner, sidekick, voice of no apparent reason, and overall lovable, donut-and-macho-burrito-eating, teddy bear of a man. Chuey
– Raymond Cruz! Part of the Vatos Locos
gang and integral to Miklo’s prison vacation early on in the movie. Becomes hooked on smack along with Cruz. Frankie
– Valente Rodriguez! We all know him as Ernie from The George Lopez Show
. Runs with Cruz and Chuey. Gets stoned a lot.Ivan
– Ving Rhames! A cop that spends a lot of time yelling at Paco about his cousin Miklo’s prison gang shenanigans. Doesn’t really do much else in this movie aside from that.Carlos
– Small-time La Onda
fringe that has an inadvertent role in setting the stage for Miklo’s eventual takeover of La Onda
. Killed, silenced, and then hung by his ankles from the rafters in San Quentin.Pockets
– A very angry member of the Black Guerilla Army and a small-time drug pusher who just needed a hug in life. Shanked to death by Carlos for committing the heinous crime of being a business competitor.Jerry
– Richard Masur! The prison librarian who has sage insight and is key to convincing Miklo that taking over La Onda
and the entire San Quentin drug trade industry is a crazy plan that just might work!Smokey
– Carlos’ brother on the outside. Also a member of La Onda
. Gets his windpipe wired shut in a church for blowing up the Cheap Times pool hall.Wallace
– Old convict in an adjacent prison and a Black Guerilla Army loyalist. Slays Montana for Cheap Times by order of…someone!Geronimo
– DANNY TREJO! Has a pretty small role as a La Onda
henchman in this film. In all honesty, I was just looking for an excuse to type DANNY TREJO! LESSONS LEARNED
+ Getting a tattoo over your thumb and forefinger automatically makes you a Latino gang member.
+ Roosters are cheaper than watchdogs in the barrio
+ In the barrio
, distance, altitude, and wind velocity have absolutely no effect on the trajectory of a .38 caliber bullet fired from a snub-nosed pistol.
+ Surviving a gunshot to the liver depends on how important you are to the plot of a movie.STUFF TO WATCH FOR
1 mins 43 secs – East Los Angeles 1972 looks pretty nice!
2 mins 30 secs – I’m noticing a pattern of Miklo never looking both ways before crossing the street here. A metaphor and harbinger of things to come.
3 mins 35 secs – Miklo’s dad doesn’t like Hispanics very much, yet he fathers one and keeps him employed and out of jail. The absurdity of racism!
14 mins 30 secs – Why buy a watchdog when you can buy a watchrooster instead?
23 mins 52 secs – RANDOM GRATUITOUS BREAST SHOT!
28 mins 45 secs – That beer can flew awful far, didn’t it? And what did it hit in mid-air next to Paco?
31 mins 44 secs – 2 shots to the lower abdomen, with excellent target spacing, from at least 50 yards in an uphill trajectory. Miklo is a true gunslinger! *cue Ennio Morricone spaghetti western music here*
41 mins 45 secs – Why aren’t women ever this aggressive?
59 mins 45 secs – Ewww! You don’t know where that finger has been!
1 hours 12 mins 45 secs – Poor Big Al. He carried such a big torch for Miklo, too!
1 hours 52 mins 56 secs – That is one yummy-looking burrito!
2 hours 18 mins – There’s nothing wrong with a man standing naked next to another naked man in the shower just to talk business. Nothing wrong with that at all!
2 hours 49 mins 25 secs – The convict in the orange jumpsuit. It’s BENNY “THE JET” URQUIDEZ! Blink and you’ll miss him!
2 hours, 50 mins – Rollie tells Paco to “make like a tree and get outta here!” Shameless (and perhaps accidental) McDonald’s and Chevron advertisement plug through the office windows.NOTABLE QUOTESMontana
: "I don’t want his pork chop. I want his life!”Popeye
: “Hey Cinderella, go find yourself a fella! You're on the clock b***h, and midnight is coming.”Big Al
: “Now wait a minute! There’s a ray of sunshine in all that darkness down there! Come up here, sweetness.”Red Ryder
: “Wetbacks and Bonafide porch monkeys holding hands. You now have a combined IQ of 2!”Paco
: “Life’s a risk, carnal
: “I’m a lover, not a fighter, man!”Big Al
: “Allah is blushing!”Miklo
: “What am I gonna tell my parole officer?”Popeye
: “Tell him to suck his pee pee!”Carlos
: “Cocaine is America’s cup of coffee!”Geronimo
, La Onda
don’t shine shoes!”Cruz
: “Because we’re from East Los, ese
! We come out chased by hounds! Round and round we go wearing a pincha
rabbit’s foot for luck, just ahead of the f**kin’ hounds!”THE PLOT
This is an epic B-movie classic, set during the years 1972 thru 1984, with a cast of characters and a plethora of A and B-list actors who have made their marks in Hollywood over the years since this movie was released, so you will find yourself frequently saying “Hey, that’s what-his-face!” throughout the film if you watch it. It joins the ranks of the modern day classic gangster/gangland dramas, and it does so under the guise and quality of a cheesy, early ‘90s B-movie destined for late night cable reruns.
The movie starts with our hero Miklo, fresh off the hitchhiker’s highway following a short flashback showing a falling out with his white father. Miklo is Chicano, you see, and has a bit of an identity crisis for being Chicano yet looking like a white boy, which actually serves as an important plot vehicle later on in the film. Miklo returns to the barrio
to stay with his mom, who instead shacks him up with his aunt and his cousins Paco and Cruz. You see, Paco and Cruz are “down”, and it is up to Miklo to prove himself worthy of hanging with them and the local barrio
gang, the Vatos Locos
. Miklo gets himself in trouble early in the movie by busting out the rear window of rival gang leader Spider’s low rider after Spider’s goons are caught defacing the Vatos Locos
’ sacred alleyway with rival Tres Puntos
gang graffiti. (NOTE: This movie is rife with Latino stereotypes and an odd hybrid of Latino/English language mongrelizations, so please bear with me if my review periodically falls into these same stereotypes. Do you feel me, mi hermanos?)
This trouble inevitably leads to Spider retaliating against the Vatos Locos
by catching Cruz in a car about to sex it up with a sexy gal, and the Tres Puntos
proceed to break Cruz’ back for him over a handy-dandy fire hydrant, which is also apparently a portable because if you watch really close, the hydrant falls over
after Cruz' back appears to bust it right off of its moorings! I don't know the quality of fire hydrants that they have in East Los Angeles, but I would definitely file a complaint against the city for such shoddy public works. After poor Cruz is hospitalized, Chuey, Frankie, and the rest of the Vatos Locos
gang retaliates the next day or so with Paco and Miklo in the lead. The gangs clash on a hill overlooking East Los Angeles, and Spider ends up getting killed with a hell of a couple of well-placed shots to the liver and gut from a great distance by Miklo and his cute little .38 Special; we’re talking at least 50 yards uphill in the heat of battle, AFTER
Miklo gets shot in the liver himself! Needless to say, reality gets put on the back burner a lot in this movie.
After a short yet spectacular car chase through the barrio
, the cops catch up with the Vatos Locos
. While Chuey and Frankie run off like the little culos
that they are, leaving Miklo to bleed in the car, Paco stays behind to help his cousin and is subsequently busted by the cops, then presumably gets short time (the judge gives Paco the option of joining the Marines rather than face hard time,) while Miklo gets hauled off to the Big House at San Quentin. It is here where Miklo discovers the true meaning of “blood in, blood out.” A life for a life. This is deep, folks!
After almost getting raped by a big ugly brute named Popeye during a short tour of Miklo’s new home, Miklo is forced to make friends with his like-minded hermanos
(brothers) in the penitentiary, La Onda
, a Latino prison gang commanded by a zen-like sage named Montana. Miklo wants to be accepted in La Onda
, but the only way to do that is to kill one of their enemies. In this case, that enemy is the head of the kitchen staff, Big Al, who is under the protection of the prison’s white supremacist gang, the Aryan Vanguard. Luckily, Big Al has a major man-crush on Miklo, so it isn’t very difficult for Miklo to get Big Al alone in a storage room in the back of the prison kitchen to kill him in the name of La Onda
. After this, Montana tells Miklo to work on his parole, and Miklo is eventually released on parole into the tender mercies of the prison parole program and Popeye as his new landlord; Popeye got out on parole a short time ahead of Miklo, so their destinies eventually become tangled on the outside.
Cruz has become a fine arts dealer during this time, but his heroin addiction gets the best of him, unfortunately at the cost of his and Paco’s little brother Juanito’s life. After little Juanito’s funeral, Cruz becomes estranged to Paco, who is now a police officer, and Cruz falls deeper into his addiction. He stays in good touch with Miklo however, and is with Miklo after he discovers that he is getting short-changed at his new job courtesy of Popeye, so Miklo muscles in on an armored car heist plan that Popeye is setting up with a local crime lord in their apartment (more on this armored car heist shortly.)
Meanwhile, Paco has been doing good for himself after serving in the Marine Corps following Vatos Locos’
run-in with Tres Puntos
earlier in the movie. Paco is now an undercover cop, and ends up busting Popeye during a drug raid on the outside; Popeye just happened to be passing by the drug raid shortly after his release from prison. This meeting between Paco and Popeye, while a chance encounter, is crucial to the plot because it is Paco’s first direct meeting with La Onda
on the outside. Popeye apparently does short time for this (the film is never really clear on Popeye’s story) as it happens before Miklo is released on parole. After Popeye is pushed out of the armored car heist operation by Miklo, he decides to get back at Miklo by ratting him out to Paco’s drug bust team. Paco and his partner Rollie McCann (Biff from the Back To The Future
movies) are sitting in a parking lot waiting for Miklo’s heist team to pull up, thinking that they are about to bust a drug deal going down, but inadvertently end up intervening in the armored car heist. In the process, Paco ends up shooting Miklo in the leg, sending Miklo to the hospital where his leg is later amputated. WHEW!
Are you following me so far? This movie’s plot is tough to keep up with, and if you blink then you’ll miss something crucial. Okay, on to the second half!
After a short heart-to-heart between Cruz and Paco, who comes to say ‘hi’ to Cruz after seven years of estrangement over the death of little Juanito, Paco has a revelation about his earlier meeting with Popeye courtesy of Rollie McCann, who while sifting through Miklo’s property/evidence, finds a picture of Popeye posing with La Onda
in San Quentin right before his parole. Because of this, Paco discovers the connection between Popeye, Miklo, and La Onda
. After disowning Paco who comes to visit him in the hospital post-leg amputation, Miklo returns to San Quentin as a peg-legged Chicano, eager to become reunited with La Onda
, only to painfully discover that La Onda
is now subservient to the drug culture that has permeated throughout San Quentin since Miklo’s parole. Carlos, one of the fringe elements of La Onda
, has made a name for himself during Miklo’s parole absence as a small-time drug dealer in San Quentin that wants to sell the Aryan Vanguard’s cocaine to the blacks and Hispanics and wants the La Onda
council’s blessings in return for 1/3 of his profits, but Montana sees through the ruse and shuts Carlos down and refuses him La Onda’s
Meanwhile, Miklo is working in the prison library and getting work advice from the prison librarian, Jerry (an uncredited Richard Masur) who offhandedly echoes Carlos’ earlier statement at the La Onda
council meeting about cocaine being “America’s cup of coffee.” Miklo hears this and discovers Carlos’ previous drug connection before he started getting his drugs from the Aryan Vanguard; this is crucial because Jerry plants the seeds of ambition in Miklo by giving a quick history lesson about the state of California’s “flat-time law” for drug offenders, three strikes and you’re out (life in prison) with no parole or “good time,” 80% of convicts are in prison because of drug charges…or as Jerry put it: “That’s a lot of guys that are gonna be here for a real long time…all drug users.” Miklo sees the potential in that. This is Don “Godfather” Corleone stuff, folks!
After Miklo is publicly humiliated in the yard for trying to collect a debt to La Onda
from the Aryan Vanguard with nothing to back him up but his stump for a leg, Miklo is disillusioned by Montana’s soft reaction to the Aryan Vanguard’s and Black Guerilla Army’s lack of proper respect for La Onda
, and begins his plot to take over La Onda
while taking a shower with Magic Mike (showering with other men in prison is not gay, folks.) The first item on the agenda is to wait for the Aryan Vanguard to send Carlos to eliminate Pockets, Carlos’ main competitor in the San Quentin drug market. Pockets is a member of the Black Guerilla Army, and a very angry fellow, but one who also makes a substantial amount of money for the Black Guerilla Army and must naturally be taken out of the process for the sake of good business…you can learn a thing or two about Capitalism 101 from this movie, folks! The second item on the Aryan Vanguard agenda is destroying the Cheap Times pool hall on the outside, which is a drug outlet for the Black Guerilla Army in Los Angeles; Carlos’ brother Smokey closes down Cheap Times with a couple of well-placed hand grenades, sung to the tune of Rick James’ “Superfreak”. This is quite the prophetic turn for this movie, because as we learned 11 years later on Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show
from Rick James himself, “Cocaine is a helluva drug!”
Carlos is silenced by the Aryan Vanguard and the order of Red Ryder for being so strung out on his own drug supply that they don’t want him possibly snitching to the prison authorities about the hit on Pockets and Cheap Times; La Onda
finds Carlos hanging from the rafters in San Quentin, bloodied and very dead. This causes a very serious rift between the three rival gangs, and Miklo and Magic Mike spring into action, working to manipulate Montana into action against La Onda’s
rivals. Montana orders a hit on Smokey for blowing up the Cheap Times pool hall to appease the Black Guerilla Army who are seriously p**sed about Carlos knocking off Brother Pockets; even though it was by Red Ryder’s order, Carlos was Chicano and Pockets was black…you know how it looks.
Montana orders the hit on Smokey while simultaneously setting up a meeting to call a truce with the Black Guerilla Army. The hit on Smokey fails because Popeye chooses to stab Smokey through a cigar box during a bogus drug deal, barely nicking him and unable to shoot straight as Smokey flees for his life. Smokey calls Paco looking for protection from La Onda
, but Paco won’t deal until Smokey gives up some La Onda
names, which Smokey agrees to do once they meet up in a church, but Paco arrives at the church only to find Smokey dead via a wire strangulation; a gift courtesy of La Onda
This is where Ivan steps in; he is the state official in charge of taking down the prison gang activity including La Onda’s
operations. Paco convinces Ivan to include him and his drug bust team in a concerted effort to bring down the prison gangs. Meanwhile, La Onda
and the Black Guerilla Army meet inside San Quentin to establish a truce to avoid further bloodshed while Red Ryder and the Aryan Vanguard look on, eager for the blacks and Hispanics to go to war with one another over Carlos’ killing of Pockets and Smokey’s demolition of Cheap Times. Montana and Bonafide agree to a truce, while Montana asks for a temporary transfer to Delano, otherwise known as North Kern State Prison (interesting because the movie takes place in the 1970s and 1980s while NKSP outside of Delano, California didn’t open until April 1993, the same month that this movie was released into theaters) to smooth things over with the Black Guerilla Army faction down there, leaving Miklo in charge of La Onda
in his absence. Montana does this to stop a war between La Onda
and the Black Guerilla Army, but also cuts a deal with the cops to help prevent a gang war in exchange for a visit with his daughter, who Montana has not seen in 14 years.
Montana ends up in a prison cell adjacent to the cell of an old convict by the name of Wallace, who befriends Montana. Unbeknownst to both Montana and Bonafide, Wallace lost his brother in the Cheap Times bombing, and receives an order to kill Montana via a molded copy of Bonafide’s Magic Comb, a tool that Bonafide uses to exert his power and influence. Montana’s execution predictably causes a La Onda
riot back in San Quentin. The prison authorities send Bonafide to Delano in order to extract information from Wallace about the hit on Montana; this is where Bonafide discovers that the Montana hit was ordered by a counterfeit comb message from…somebody!
Paco confronts Miklo about the Montana hit and acknowledges Miklo’s newfound authority in La Onda
, and convinces Miklo to meet with Bonafide to maintain the truce between La Onda
and the Black Guerilla Army. Miklo and Bonafide agree to establish La Onda
joining forces with the Black Guerilla Army to take down the Aryan Vanguard, which Miklo agrees to with a six month truce, to be celebrated at its conclusion by a big Mexican holiday, Dia De Los Muertos
, “the Day of the Dead.” Bonafide doesn’t see it coming, but this is Miklo’s subtle hint that on that day, all debts will be settled, Don Corleone-style! Miklo tells Paco that a truce has been agreed upon, and everyone from Paco to the police to the other prison authorities buys into the truce as a time for peace instead of the resolution for war that La Onda
is secretly conducting.
During this time, Cruz thankfully makes his amends with Paco and his family for the untimely death of little Juanito, which is a very poignant moment in this film because it hammers home the fundamental message of redemption and forgiveness as being a key point to the overall plot of the film; that all sins are forgiven and/or resolved…one way or another!
What follows next is a reckoning of all of Miklo’s lessons that he has learned throughout the film from the likes of Montana and Jerry inside the prison, the actions of Popeye and Paco outside of the prison, and the overcoming of the false perception of the limitations of his white heritage from within himself. The "Day of the Dead" serves as a backdrop to La Onda’s
Revenge, and this entire segment rips a page directly from the script of The Godfather (1972)
, particularly from The Baptism segment and the elimination of the Five Families toward the end of that movie. Miklo’s La Onda
hitmen make short work of all of the key players of both the Black Guerilla Army and the Aryan Vanguard, leaving a power vacuum that is instantly filled by the power and influence of La Onda
. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
Ivan is perplexed, and Paco and the rest of the prison authorities feel betrayed by Miklo; Biff from the Back To The Future
movies is the only cop that sees the common sense in Miklo’s actions, and his feelings are clearly illustrated as he tells Paco to “make like a tree and get outta here!” Okay, I’m just kidding about that last part, but it would have been hilarious if Rollie McCann had said that during his argument with Paco during this highly dramatic scene!
Miklo has a final conference with Paco, and proposes that Paco join La Onda
on the outside, Vatos Locos
style, but Paco refuses. La Onda
is broken up, with the prison sending the key members off to other prisons. But Miklo explains to his hermanos
that La Onda
will survive and prosper in different chapters all across the country. In the end, we discover that Miklo was the one that ordered the hit on Montana in the Delano prison via Bonafide’s Magic Comb, the sneaky evil bastard!
The film ends with Paco and Cruz bonding in brotherhood down by the river running through Los Angeles, as Cruz reminds Paco that the three of them -- Paco, Cruz, and Miklo –- are still brothers, still familia
, still Vatos Locos