Is Blood and Bone Based on Actual Fighters?

‘Blood and Bone’ is a 2009 martial arts film filled to the brim with impactful fight sequences in an underworld of crime. The story begins with Isaiah Bone being released from prison and entering the world of underground fighting, his unmatched skills and stoic persona taking it by storm. He encounters a vicious mob boss, James, who wants to hire him for a fight against the reigning champion of an exclusive fight club called the Consortium, headed by an arms dealer, Franklin McVeigh. Little does he know that Bone is on a mission for justice and revenge, beginning a showdown between the two.

With Ben Ramsey in the director’s chair, ‘Blood and Bone’ revels in its gritty narrative, being frequently punctuated by explosive action scenes. The plot deals with dark themes of loss, substance abuse, and vengeance. Bone’s enigmatic character drives the film forward; initially seeming like an anti-hero, he is slowly revealed to be a misunderstood individual with a strong sense of justice. With interesting characters, familiar backdrops, and realistic fights, ‘Blood and Bone’ creates a gripping and believable action experience, which gives rise to the question: is it based on a true story?

Blood and Bone is Michael Jai White’s Tribute to Martial Arts

‘Blood and Bone’ is driven by a script written by Michael Andrews for Michael Jai White, who took it to director Ben Ramsey before making it into a DTV film for Sony. Michael has a deep history with martial arts, which had gone largely unexplored in his films ahead of this 2009 film. A major reason behind the authenticity of the movie’s fight scenes is that most of the cast and even some crew members are martial artists and experts. When drawing inspiration from other works in the genre, the filmmakers drew from the invincibility of Bruce Lee and Sonny Chiba, while also looking at blacksploitation movies.

The protagonist of ‘Blood and Bone’ is evocative of classic Hollywood heroes having reticent personas that accentuate their wit and skill. Talking about the thought process behind the creation of Isaiah Bone in an interview, Michael Andrews said, “I always wanted to do a character that was similar to the heroes out of the ‘60s and ’70s; the strong-silent Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson type of character.” further elaborating, “we have seen so many other characters who are like that but are out of the West, I wanted to move that idea into modern times in a sort of modern western.”

Michael Andrews had been involved with martial arts for thirty years and surprised Michael Jai White with a script that he immediately recognized as being written by someone with fighting experience. The leading actor has seven legitimate black belts in different martial arts and approached the film like a passion project along with Ben Ramsey, who was a fan of the genre himself. The filmmakers envisioned a much more realistic fighting movie than their contemporaries, by bringing the essence of mixed martial arts and putting it in gritty street fights.

“People have been waiting for me for years to take the lead in a martial arts film. I have turned down a number in the past because I felt like I owe the martial arts a lot more,” said Michael Jai White in the aforementioned interview. “I wanted to fuse all the worlds I had been a part of, the world of acting, the world of martial arts, the world of drama, and some comedy as well. I thought that ‘Blood and Bone’ would be the type of vehicle to do that with.”

Having the cast brimming with real-life fighters, the actors performed their own stunts, making most action sequences flow smoothly with minimum cuts. Without the use of stunt-double, no fast cutting was required, and the filmmakers evoked old-school movies with elaborate and well-choreographed fight scenes displaying the talent of the characters to a full extent. There were several cameo appearances from genuine martial artists, as Michael Jai White had trained with all of them. These included the YouTube street fighting sensation, Kimbo Slice; MMA fighter, Gina Carano; former kickboxing champion, Maurice Smith; and Robert Wall, who appeared in Enter the Dragon as the powerhouse, O’Harra.

‘Blood and Bone’ was created by martial artists to depict genuine forms of fighting in cinema with minimum adulteration. The filmmakers were inspired by the works of Bruce Lee, and Sonny Chiba, while seeking to replicate the character of Western protagonists like Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson, in a modern-day setting. The film stands out for its intense fight sequences, showcasing Michael Jai White’s martial arts expertise, while the narrative weaves elements of redemption and retribution into the brutal world of underground fighting.

Read More: Blood and Bone: Where Was the Martial Arts Movie Shot?