Blood In Blood Out

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For the Exodus album, see Blood In, Blood Out (Exodus album).
Bound by Honor
Bloodinbloodout poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Taylor Hackford
Produced by Taylor Hackford
Jerry Gershwin
Screenplay by Jimmy Santiago Baca
Jeremy Iacone
Floyd Mutrux
Story by Ross Thomas
Starring Damian Chapa
Jesse Borrego
Benjamin Bratt
Enrique Castillo
Delroy Lindo
Tom Towles
Carlos Carrasco
Music by Bill Conti
Cinematography Gabriel Beristain
Edited by Fredric Steinkamp
Karl F. Steinkamp
Production
company
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • April 16, 1993 (1993-04-16)
Running time
180 minutes[1]
190 minutes (Director's cut)
Country United States
Language English
Spanish
Arabic
Budget $35 million
Box office $4,496,583

Bound by Honor (also known as Blood In Blood Out) is a 1993 American crime-drama film directed by Taylor Hackford. It follows the intertwining lives of the three Chicano relatives, Miklo, Cruz, and Paco from 1972 to 1984. They start out as members of the street gang Vatos Locos in East Los Angeles, and as dramatic incidents occur, their lives and friendships are forever changed. Bound by Honor was filmed in 1990 throughout the Spanish-speaking areas of Los Angeles and inside California's San Quentin State Prison.

Plot[edit]

Miklo Velka is a man of Mexican and Caucasian ethnicity who, before coming to live with his cousins, attacked his father. His Caucasian appearance (fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes) from his white father has made him less accepted among the people of El Pico Aliso barrio, where they have all grown up.

On his return from Las Vegas, Nevada, Miklo goes to stay with his two cousins Paco and Cruz in Los Angeles, California. While talking to Cruz about getting into the gang, Paco tells him that he can't because of the way he looks. Miklo then proves himself worthy for the gang when he performs an attack on a rival gang, Tres Puntos. His assault earns him a placa, a tattoo as a token of his membership in the Vatos Locos street gang.

However, the Tres Puntos gang soon takes revenge by brutally attacking Cruz who is a budding artist, and damages his back for life. When Vatos Locos learn of the attack, they perform a well-planned counterattack ending dramatically with the murder of the rival gang's leader, "Spider". However, Miklo has been shot by Spider before killing him and while Paco tries to get Miklo to the hospital they end up being chased by the police. Paco crashes into another car at the El Pino tree, and the other Vatos Locos gang members escape, but Miklo and Paco are arrested.

Their three paths diverge: Miklo is sent to San Quentin State Prison for murder, Paco volunteers for military service in the United States Marine Corps as an alternative choice to prison, and Cruz continues his passion for art. He also becomes a heroin addict due to the recurring back pain. His addiction leads to him being disowned by his family after his 12-year-old brother Juanito dies of an accidental overdose on Cruz's heroin supply. Paco becomes an L.A.P.D. narcotics detective after leaving the Marine Corps.

While in San Quentin, Miklo finds trouble adapting to prison life as his multi-ethnic heritage provides him with few allies in a racially-segregated penitentiary. The prison is run by three gangs, all of whom are based on their racial backgrounds. The Black Guerrilla Army (B.G.A.) is led by an inmate named Bonafide, the Aryan Vanguard is led by an inmate named Red Ryder, and La Onda is led by Montana. La Onda '​s members do not initially accept Miklo due to his White appearance, and the Aryan inmates in the meantime are trying to make Miklo into a sex slave. One of the inmates, Popeye also tries to rape Miklo at knife-point, but he is saved Montana.

After meeting Montana, he is told the only way into La Onda is killing an enemy inmate, in Miklo's case a white inmate named Big Al who runs the gambling in prison. After gaining the trust of Big Al, Miklo stabs him to death during a sexual encounter in the prison kitchen and steals his gambling information from him in the process. The corrections officers are unable to charge Miklo with the crime, as he has threatened to testify against them with information regarding the gambling kickbacks which they had taken from Big Al. Miklo is initiated into La Onda and about 10 years later is released on parole.

On the outside, he's disgusted by his menial job on which his supervisor is robbing him, so he joins in an armed robbery. The hiest goes poorly and Miklo is intercepted by Paco, now a decorated cop. Refusing to surrender peacefully, Miklo runs away. Paco shoots his cousin in the leg, which later has to be amputated. Returning to prison, Miklo is promoted to the Ruling Council of La Onda. When back in prison, Miklo notices the cocaine addictions of several inmates and the Aryan's business in the drug trade. The Aryans are attempting to partner with the Hispanic inmates with all the cocaine they wish to sell in exchange for killing B.G.A. leader Bonafide. Montana, however, refuses to allow La Onda to enter the drug trade, saying that the gang's purpose is to protect the Chicano people and that the Aryans want a war between the Black and Hispanic inmates.

This causes a rift in La Onda and Carlos, one of the main members who wants to deal cocaine, leaves the gang to work with the Aryans, doing this causes other members to leave as well. Carlos deals drugs for the Aryans murdering a B.G.A. soldier named Pockets and then contacts his brother, Smoky, on the outside who bombs a B.G.A. hangout. After all of this happens, Carlos' usefulness has come to an end and the Aryans drop their protection of him allowing the B.G.A. members an opportunity to kill him. Despite his death, Miklo agrees with Carlos's outlook and is eager to enter the cocaine business.

Later, Montana and Bonafide meet in the prison yard to discuss what has happened and they agree not to go to war because the only people who would benefit are the Aryan Vanguard. The warden grants Montana special permission to visit the Chino and Folsom prisons to talk to the leaders of La Onda at each prison.

While Montana is visiting Folsom and Chino, he leaves Miklo in charge of La Onda in San Quentin. Montana is granted a special request, and he gets to stay overnight at Delano penitentiary where he can see his daughter. On the morning of the visit, Montana is stabbed to death outside his cell by a member of the B.G.A.. Believing that the Aryans sent forged orders to the hitman, Paco arranges a peace conference between La Onda and the B.G.A. However, Miklo, La Onda's new leader, manipulates the peace talks in order to build an alliance with the B.G.A. and they agree to kill the Aryan Vanguard leaders.

Later, enforcers for La Onda and the B.G.A. sweep through the walls of San Quentin, brutally killing the leaders of the Aryan Vanguard. After the killings are done, the leader of the B.G.A. suggests that if they continue their alliance, they can rule San Quentin. Miklo announces a change of plans and his men promptly exterminate the B.G.A. as well.

Paco is enraged that his own cousin has played him for a fool and angrily confronts Miklo in the prison visiting room. Miklo responds that he has attained his destiny and found La Raza. Paco angrily retorts that La Raza has nothing to do with the gangsterism of La Onda and everything to do with honest Mexicans trying to raise their children in peace. Paco leaves his cousin in disgust, disowning him forever.

The members of La Onda hold a final gathering after the warden vows to split the council up by using interstate compact where convicted felons from out of state are exchanged for those who are residents of the State of California. Miklo plans to expand La Onda to other states in the South West despite the warden's orders ending their dominance.

Later, Miklo's and his cellmate "Magic" destroy the mold which they used to send the forged orders to the B.G.A. hit man to kill Montana. Magic says "We both loved him, but we did what we had to do for La Onda." Back in East Los Angeles, Paco visits one of Cruz's murals after the family re-accepts him to see a portrait of his former life. In a pep talk with Cruz, Paco realizes that by ordering Miklo to go after Spider, who they were charged with murdering, Paco is responsible for all of the things that have happened to Miklo. This causes Paco to feel guilty for his actions and ultimately forgive Miklo and Cruz.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The three prison gangs in the film are fictional creations of screenwriter Jimmy Santiago Baca and director Taylor Hackford. However, they were all based on actual prison gangs, with the Aryan Vanguard, Black Guerrilla Army and La Onda representing the Aryan Brotherhood, Black Guerrilla Family, and the Mexican Mafia, respectively.

Actor Theodore Wilson died shortly after filming his scenes in the film.

Artist Adan Hernandez was hired to create the paintings the character of Cruz Candelaria was supposed to have painted. All of the paintings that were used in the film were created by him. The mural in the reservoir seen in the film's climax still stands today, though it has faded considerably. Hernandez made a cameo appearance in the film as the drug dealer Gilbert in the art gallery scene.

The film was shot in and around Los Angeles and East Los Angeles and inside the walls of San Quentin State Prison. Several of the then-inmates appear in the film as extras. In addition, several of the prison staff members also appear as others and some facilitated the production of the film by serving as technical advisors. Many members of the staff were given small lines in the film, with the warden giving an extended cameo in a part that is somewhat integral to the plot. In addition, actor Danny Trejo, who appears in the film as Geronimo, had served time in San Quentin before deciding to become an actor.

The film was initially entitled "Blood in Blood Out" but was retitled "Bound by Honor" before the film's release. Blood in blood out refers to the initiation ritual of having to kill someone to enter a gang and, on the reverse end, not being able to leave the gang unless killed. This is a common initiation in many gangs, including prison gangs, and is also the motto of La Onda in the film. Hollywood Pictures insisted on the name change as the studio felt that it would incite violence in East Los Angeles. In addition, executives at Hollywood Pictures, a subsidiary of Disney, were cautious about the potential effect the film would have following the 1992 LA Riots and the attribution given to Boyz N the Hood as a partial cause/inspiration of the riots. Director Taylor Hackford has stated that he was very unhappy with this decision as the film's message was the exact opposite of the one that the studio feared would be transmitted.

There were two soundtracks produced for the film. The first was released by Hollywood Pictures and used in the film after its re-titling to Bound by Honor. The second soundtrack was composed by Bill Conti and released by Varèse Sarabande Records. Conti's soundtrack had been commissioned for the film but was cancelled after the Blood In Blood Out title was dropped. Conti's soundtrack is still believed to be in existence, but has never been released.

In addition to prison inmates and staff and artist Hernandez, screenwriter and barrio poet Jimmy Santiago Baca cameos as a prison inmate and member of the La Onda council.

Reception[edit]

The film received mixed reviews from critics. It holds a 55% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 11 reviews.[2]

References[edit]

External links[edit]