Blood In, Blood Out (Bound by Honor)

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 11


Audience Score

User Ratings: 49,144
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Movie Info

Taylor Hackford directed this urgent melodrama about the realities of street crime, gangs, and prison life among the Chicanos of East Los Angeles. Miklo (Damian Chapa), Paco (Benjamin Bratt) and Cruz (Jesse Borrego) are three friends who are living in the East Los Angeles of 1972 as it is torn apart by violence. When the gang violence hits the three friends, they are affected by their participation in the bitter violence in different ways. Cruz, an artist, becomes crippled, and he sinks deeply into drug addiction. Paco, an accessory to murder, joins the military to avoid jail time, leading to a spot on the LAPD. Miklo, the kid with the gun, is sent to jail, where he slowly rises up in the ranks of La Onda, the San Quentin Latino gang. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi


Critic Reviews for Blood In, Blood Out (Bound by Honor)

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (6) | Rotten (5)

  • Bound by Honor contains some effective performances, some moments of deeply felt truth, and a portrait of prison life that I assume is accurate. What seems to be missing is a clear idea of why the movie was made.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • When mainstream Hollywood tackles Hispanic-themed movies, such as this one, the results are usually disastrous. Though aiming at creating an authentic Hispanic street epic, the otherwise reliable Hackford has directed a diffues and cliche picture.

    May 1, 2006 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Long, ambitious and uneven, but an interesting project.

    Dec 17, 2002 | Rating: 3/5
  • Flawed and perhaps a tad overlong, but pretty gripping all the same.

    Jul 26, 2002 | Rating: 3.5/5

Audience Reviews for Blood In, Blood Out (Bound by Honor)

  • Jan 16, 2015
    Loved it...because I lived it.
    James A Super Reviewer
  • Sep 12, 2013
    As the closing credit began rolling it's rather difficult to draw a final conclusion for "Blood In Blood Out" (or Bound By Honor). A film that's passes the three hour mark and one that has notable flaws during its long journey. It's an epic gangster film on a different ethnicity in a genre that is overpopulated by Jewish, Irish, or Italians. It's easy to appreciate it for exploring the rarely touched upon Los Angeles' Latino crime subculture, but doesn't share to its inspiration the heart, the scope, and craftsmanship. By the time the film ends it's neither a waste of time, but clearly no masterpiece it was aiming to be. Blood In Blood Out focuses on half-brothers Paco and Cruz, and their bi-racial cousin Miklo and how a violent crime and the influence of narcotics alter their lives. The film has three intertwining storylines that connect throughout the film, but also stand as their own individual storylines about redemption, failing to make a honest living, and disownment by family. As expected of a crime film revolving gang violence among youth the common themes are all here. Characters learning the meaning of home and family; hard but honest work versus a life of crime; the fickle consequences of youthful foolishness, striking down some while letting others pass; unfulfilled hopes, and other hopes fulfilled in unexpected ways; generational gaps bridged only by maturity that comes in the wake of mistakes; the constant questioning of oneself. That's allot of area it covers which in respect it does successfully by exploring those themes over time. The central focus is the brotherhood and the bond between the three central characters. Showing the consequences of their lifestyle that drove them apart. Feeling true to reality at times and not a work of fiction. Developing through time and growing into entirely different people for the better and worse. Sadly where it missed the mark is showing the bond. It's one thing to say that family is connected, but it's another to show that in a creation of fiction. The main problem while experiencing "Blood In Blood Out" is no intended emotion towards the main characters is ever warrant by the viewer. We only spent a half an hour with our three central characters before their lives collapse which in that time does not justify what makes the bond strong. We neither get any reason of why we should sympathize for our main hero Miklo. Literally upon his introduction we're told he beat up his father and is violating his parole for doing so. This is in turn makes Miklo a plot device in the film. In order for its story to take shape Miklo must A.) Attack a rival gang, B.) Fully understand how the prison operate and the hierarchy criminal, and C.) Attempt to live without falling into his former lifestyle. These three events trigger the major plot points making it difficult to see the central hero anything else beside a tool to move the plot forward. The ending closes the film, but not the story. It closes no loose end defeating the purpose of it story was meant to have. Was it trying say there is no good people by choice, but only from past consequences? If not, then it message could be lost on the viewer. Lead Damian Chapa is not as strong as his co-star to carry the film. He doesn't have the acting chops to be taken seriously when acting tough in prison where he comes out as a whimp. When Chapa is outside of prison his acting is improved being less energetic and more down to Earth, but not lead worthy caliber by any stretch. Granted Chapa appearance works in favor of the film theme on acceptance among your own people. Jesse Borrego and Benjamin Bratt are also major players in the film taking up an equal amount of screen time as the lead. Borrego and Bratt are convincing in their roles. They overplay their parts just enough it won't take away when the actors have to deliver dramatic scenes. Both actor performances won't garner an emotional attachment from the viewer, but they are solid enough to not take you out of the film. The huge supporting cast consisting of Billy Bob Thornton, Enrique Castillo, Victor Rivers, Carlos Carrasco, Delroy Lindo, among many more to name are excellent. The supporting cast at times outshine the three stars that carry the film. Selling the generic cheesy dialogue and archetypes they portray. In particular Enrique Castillo who despite getting a cliche prison character delivers his performance with a calm nature. His arcs is the closest the film gets to an emotional scene. Blood In Blood Out is a decent crime film that falls short of greatness it wanted to reach. It's three hours storytelling falls trap to its genre holding it back. It's not hard to see why the film is so widely loved even with it shortcomings. It hefty length allows the audience to connect with the characters, but the story itself is all too common for a crime epic to be anything more than decent.
    Caesar M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 04, 2011
    I've always hated this damn movie even as a kid. The dialogue is laughable, the acting is so overdone that it's ridiculous, the plot & story are way too long & predictable, the casting choices aren't all that great, the Mexican accents sound fake, & the movie as a whole is nothing more than an overlong, unintentional comedy. The movie has it's redeeming features, & even some powerful moments, but most of the time as I stated it's just so ridiculously overdramatic that you just can't help but laugh at it. Plot/Story: the plot is your typical 'Mexican gangster fighting over territory & against other gangs' cliché. Some modern movies still use this formula, but at least those manage to make it look less cliché & fresh. But this movie makes it look so corny & boring that it just ends up a badly done cliché. The story takes way too long, & at times you wonder what the real point of the movie is. And don't even get me started on how mindless it can be, & how bland & boring it is. And lemme tell you right now that I have a pet peeve for these movies. All of these ¨Vatos locos for life!¨, ¨Orale!¨ Mexican/Cholo turf gang banging crap is something that drives me to my last nerve. And I'm a Mexican myself. The way all of these Mexicans just throw their damn bodies all around to signal their macho-ness & their courage is just so laughable that I just can't take them, let alone the movie, seriously. Cast/Acting: The casting choices in this movie are nothing special, & any actor in here that isn't Danny Trejo, Billy Bob Thornton, & Ving Rhames is easily forgettable. As for their performances, again, their so ridiculously overdone they just end up being laughable. Yes, there are scenes in the movie where it has it's spectacular & powerful performaces, but it's so hard to take them seriously when all you're getting is nothing but actors throwing their hands & bodies around saying nothing but ¨Oye vato loco!¨ & ¨Orale ese perro!¨. Actors like Danny Trejo pull this stuff off because they don't look ridiculous doing it, & also manage to do it in such a strong way that they look great doing it. While the other actors just go by throwing their hands, bodies, & even faces all around the place. I'll credit the actors however for taking their roles seriously. Characters: I don't recall liking, let alone caring, for any character in here, In fact, you might not just even care about anyone in this film in general. Thus resulting in you not really giving a damn who gets killed or who's side your on & which gets hurt. Dialogue: Do I really have to go by telling you the dialogue this film has? Again, 95% of the film is nothing more than ¨Vatos locos!¨ ¨Ese!¨ ¨Familia!¨ ¨Carnal!¨ ¨Orale carnal!¨ & any other Mexican cholo quotes hat you can think of. It grows so tiresome of hearing those quotes over & over again that it almost gives you a headache. And as for the accents, the majority of them all sound fake, even if the actors themselves actually have the Mexican accent sounded fake. So all in all, this movie is just laughable. I didn't like it, I don't know why my friends like it, & I don't know why some of my own family liked it. You're better off watching much better more family & gangster films of it´s genre like ¨Hustle & Flow¨.
    Frisby 2 Super Reviewer
  • Mar 11, 2011
    I viewed this movie because it got such terrific ratings. However, it was probably one of the stupidest movies I have ever seen. The acting, or should I say "over" acting, was ridiculous. I don't know what bothered me more: the fake Mexican accents, or the crazy way the actors flung themselves around while speaking. The "gangster talk" was just ridiculous, with too much"orale", too much, "hey vato". The worst dialogue ever... Maybe this was considered a good movie 20 years ago??
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer

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