Blood In Blood Out

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Blood In Blood Out
Bloodinbloodout poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTaylor Hackford
Produced byTaylor Hackford
Jerry Gershwin
Screenplay byJimmy Santiago Baca
Jeremy Iacone
Floyd Mutrux
Story byRoss Thomas
Music byBill Conti
CinematographyGabriel Beristain
Edited byFredric Steinkamp
Karl F. Steinkamp
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
‹See TfM›
  • February 5, 1993 (1993-02-05)
Running time
180 minutes[1]
190 minutes (Director's cut)
CountryUnited States
Budget$35 million
Box office$4,496,583

Blood In Blood Out (also known as Bound by Honor and Blood In Blood Out: Bound By Honor) is a 1993 American epic crime drama film directed by Taylor Hackford. It follows the intertwining lives of three Chicano relatives from 1972 to 1984. They start out as members of a street gang in East Los Angeles, and as dramatic incidents occur, their lives and friendships are forever changed. Blood In Blood Out was filmed in 1991 throughout the Spanish-speaking areas of Los Angeles and inside California's San Quentin State Prison.


In 1972, Miklo Velka is the 17 year old son of a Mexican mother and a white father. After a violent confrontation with his father, Miklo leaves Las Vegas for East Los Angeles, where he stays with his cousins, Paco and Cruz. His cousins are in the local Vatos Locos gang, and Miklo earns his membership during an attack on their rivals, the Tres Puntos. Tres Puntos retaliates by attacking Cruz, permanently damaging his back. When Vatos Locos counterattack the next day, Miklo shoots and kills Spider, leader of Tres Puntos. Fleeing the scene, Paco crashes their car and they are both arrested.

The cousins' paths now diverge: Miklo is imprisoned in San Quentin for murder, Paco volunteers for military service in the Marine Corps in lieu of prison, and Cruz continues his passion for art. Due to his back pain, Cruz develops a heroin addiction, leading to the accidental overdose of his 12-year-old brother, Juanito. After the Marines, Paco joins the L.A.P.D..

Miklo finds San Quentin is run by three racially defined prison gangs. The Black Guerrilla Army (B.G.A.) is led by Bonafide, the Aryan Vanguard is led by Red Ryder, and La Onda is led by Montana Segura. Popeye, a high ranking member of La Onda, tries to rape Miklo at knife-point but is stopped by Montana, who finds Popeye's intentions dishonorable. Miklo learns that the only way into La Onda is by killing an enemy inmate. Miklo forms a rapport with Aryan Vanguard associate Big Al, then stabs him to death in the prison kitchen. Now initiated, Miklo rises through the La Onda ranks, eventually joining its Ruling Council.

After serving nine years, Miklo is granted parole. On the outside, disgusted by his menial job, Miklo joins in an armed robbery. The heist goes poorly and Miklo is intercepted by Paco, who shoots him in the leg as he runs away. The leg has to be amputated, and Miklo is sent back to prison.

Miklo notices that cocaine use is now rampant, driven by competing supplies from the B.G.A. and Onda council member Carlos. The Aryan Vanguard want to partner with Carlos as his supplier, offering to help Carlos take B.G.A. out of the cocaine business. Montana, fiercely against La Onda being in the drug trade, warns that the Aryan Vanguard want to start a war between the Black and Chicano inmates. The Council votes in agreement with Montana, so Carlos and a few others leave La Onda to work with Aryan Vanguard.

Carlos has his non-inmate brother, Smokey, bomb the B.G.A.'s drug supply hangout in the city. Carlos also kills "Pockets", who is running the B.G.A.'s operation in San Quentin. As Montana warned, the Aryan Vanguard then lets the B.G.A. murder Carlos.

With hostility high between the Blacks and Chicanos, Montana and Bonafide meet in the prison yard. Montana convinces Bonafide to agree to a truce if Montana reaches out to La Onda leaders in other prisons to end the violence. The warden grants Montana special permission to visit the prisons and Miklo is left in charge.

Montana is granted a special request to have his daughter visit him at one of the prisons. Before she arrives, Montana is stabbed to death by a member of the B.G.A. Believing the Aryan Vanguard sent forged orders to the hitman, Paco arranges a peace conference between La Onda and B.G.A., but Miklo uses the talks to build an alliance with B.G.A. and plan the joint killing of Aryan Vanguard leaders. After the Aryan Vanguard are dead, Miklo's men promptly exterminate the B.G.A. leaders as well. A furious Paco confronts Miklo, disowning him forever.

The warden vows to split La Onda's ruling council by sending them to the prisons in other states. Miklo uses this to expand La Onda across the South West. It is later revealed that Magic, not the Aryan Vanguard, sent the forged orders to have B.G.A. kill Montana, set up by a reluctant Miklo.

Back in East Los Angeles, Paco visits one of Cruz's murals, showing a portrait of his former life. In a pep talk with Cruz, Paco realizes that by ordering Miklo to go after Spider, Paco is responsible for what Miklo has become. He ultimately forgives Miklo.



The origin for “Blood In . . . Blood Out” had its genesis in the early 1980s when producer Jerry Gershwin hired novelist Ross Thomas to write the first script, which initially went into development at New Visions Pictures under director Harold Becker.[2]

Actor Edward James Olmos was offered to both direct and star in the film, but due to creative differences, Olmos turned down the project[3][4][5]

After New Visions Pictures folded, Producer Taylor Hackford would take over directing duties. Screenwriter Floyd Mutrux was then brought on to do a script rewrite, as did writer Jeremy Iacone, and Jimmy Santiago Baca, whom Hackford credits with contributing most of the final story[6][7][8]

The three prison gangs in the film are fictional creations of screenwriter Jimmy Santiago Baca and director Taylor Hackford. However, they were all loosely 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 has unfortunately been painted over. 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. The main character Miklo is sent to San Quentin, where much of the film's plot takes place. 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.

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.

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 [9]



In early 1993, The film and its marketing campaign was given a weeklong test run in three cities: Rochester, New York, Tucson, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada, playing at two or three theaters in each city[10]

Box office[edit]

The picture was released nationally on thirty screens on 30 Apr 1993, but delayed in the Los Angeles markets until 21 May 1993, when the Rodney King civil rights trial verdict was to be handed down, the city feared a repeat of the 1992 riots following the acquittal of four Los Angeles Police Department officers charged with beating King. Box-office sales totaled $1 million from 391 theatres on opening weekend. Distributors did not plan to expand the release further, as crossover appeal to non-Hispanic audiences was not apparent[11]

Critical response[edit]

The film received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an approval rating of 55% based on reviews from 11 critics, with an average rating of 5.48/10.[12] On Metacritic it has a weighted average score of 47 out of 100 based on reviews from 12 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[13][14]

Kenneth Turan Of the L.A. Times was critical of the film, called it "approximately three hours of violent, cartoonish posturing incongruously set in the realistically evoked milieu of East Los Angeles",[15][16] while Mim Eichler, also of the L.A. Times, praised the film, calling it "A riveting odyssey, rich with myth and unforgettable imagery. It is a feast of sight and sound--poetry, music, dance and emotion--and possibly one of the most powerful and important films of the decade".[17]

The TV Guide review stated "similarity to Edward James Olmos' American Me, in which a tormented drug dealer travels the same route through prison society as Miklo. The principal difference between the two films is that Bound By Honor is by far the glossier effort, relentlessly picturesque in the seamlessly anesthetized manner of mainstream Hollywood films."[18] Film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum for the Chicago Reader wrote that this "ugly three-hour snoozefest is apparently supposed to do for East Los Angeles Chicanos what the Godfather movies did for New York mafiosi…"[19] Roger Ebert wrote "The East Los Angeles milieu and some of the characters seem familiar, because some of the same ground was covered by American Me... Bound by Honor covers similar material in a less passionate and finally less meaningful way." He gave the film 2 stars out of 4.[20]

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave Bound By Honor a B-, falling on the high end of the film spectrum. He states "Bound By Honor comes fully alive when it moves behind bars. There's an exploitative thrill built into the genre…"[21] Gleiberman was more interested in the second half of the film once Miklo was in jail running La Onda. Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote "The film is big and long, passionate and flat. It's full of heroic and tragic incident, but skimpy about the details of quotidian lives." Canby exalts some of the characters in the film one in particular, Enrique Castillo. Although Vincent Canby does not give an official rating for the film, he concludes "Though it's not the epic it means to be, it is not a failure."[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BLOOD IN BLOOD OUT (93)". British Board of Film Classification. May 19, 1993. Retrieved November 6, 2012.
  2. ^ Garcia Berumen, Frank Javier (April 14, 2016). Latino Image Makers in Hollywood: Performers, Filmmakers and Films Since the 1960s. McFarland Books. ISBN 9780786474325. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  3. ^ "Edward James Olmos leaves his "Miami Vice"..." Los Angeles Times. December 11, 1988. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  4. ^ "COVER STORY : Breaking the Chains : Edward James Olmos' anger over 'cancer' of the gang subculture fuels his film 'American Me,' about life in the barrio--and prison". Los Angeles Times. September 1, 1991. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  5. ^ "The Last Hope Of Eddie Olmos". The Washington Post. March 22, 1992. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  6. ^ Byrge, Duane (May 20, 2016). Behind the Scenes with Hollywood Producers: Interviews with 14 Top Film Creators. McFarland Books. ISBN 9780786472116. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  7. ^ "Our Gang". Los Angeles Times. November 4, 1990. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  8. ^ "Two Films, One View of Violence in Latino Life : Movies: A pair of films being shot on L.A. streets have similar plot lines, similar incidents and a fierce sense of rivalry between them. One writer has worked, at various times, on both scripts". Los Angeles Times. July 31, 1991. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  9. ^ "Taylor Hackford: The Hollywood Interview". Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  10. ^ "Blood In, Blood Out' Gets Mixed Results in Test Run : Movies: The marketing strategy with Taylor Hackford's new film, set in East Los Angeles, is a first for Hollywood Pictures, Buena Vista". Los Angeles Times. February 6, 1993. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  11. ^ "Bound by Honor'--Boyz 'n the Barrio : Background: Disney, nervous about the movie's gang theme, sticks with plan to postpone L.A. opening of the film, which will be released today in 30 cities". Los Angeles Times. April 30, 1993. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  12. ^ "Blood In, Blood Out (Bound by Honor) (1993)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
  13. ^ "Blood In, Blood Out". Metacritic. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
  14. ^ "EAST LOS ANGELES : 'Bound by Honor': Views of the 'Hood". Los Angeles Times. May 23, 1993. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  15. ^ "CAPSULE REVIEW : 'Bound by Honor' Fails as an Epic". Los Angeles Times. May 21, 1993. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  16. ^ "Bound by Honor'--Boyz 'n the Barrio : Movie review: Taylor Hackford's would-be epic about three friends and the divergent paths they take is just a long potboiler". Los Angeles Times. April 30, 1993. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  17. ^ "Bound by Honor': A Wake-Up Call to Audiences". Los Angeles Times. May 24, 1993. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  18. ^ "Bound By Honor". Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  19. ^ "Bound by Honor". Chicago Reader. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  20. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 30, 1993). "Bound By Honor Movie Review & Film Summary (1993)". Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  21. ^ Owen Gleiberman. "Bound by Honor". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  22. ^ Canby, Vincent (April 30, 1993). "Review/Film; The Chicano Experience, in Its Glory and Tedium". The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2020.

External links[edit]