Blood In Blood Out plays like any other Italian-American gangster movie, the only difference here is the setting has been moved to the Hispanic area of Los Angeles. There are still the moralistic undertones alongside the required amounts of swearing and killing.
Hollywood filmmakers are notoriously reluctant to step out of their own back yard, but when one can increasingly say of Los Angeles that it contains all forms of human life and behaviour, why travel? Despite this, only recently has Tinseltown acknowledged the existence of great swathes of L.A. offering anything more than an all-purpose car-chase backdrop, and so here we have a three-hour epic set in the Mexican American Chicano barrio of East Los Angeles.
The director of An Officer And A Gentleman, Taylor Hackford presumes to bring to the screen the "Chicano soul", but what he actually portrays here is a people doomed by self-destructiveness and self-pity to eternal victimhood. More than that, he has attempted to dramatise an unflinching depiction of life in the barrio, San Quentin jail and the Narcotics Squad with a potboiler plot about blood brothers who pursue conflicting fates. And should that seem somewhat corny, he has egged the whole thing with masses of violence, a massacre sequence stylistically lifted from The Godfather, and even a car-chase.
Shouted Speedy Gonzalez-style, the dialogue is torrid and profane in the extreme, except when it drops the volume to sermonise creakily about destiny, race, loyalty-unto-death and so forth. The performances rely more on how good the actors' tattooed pecs look in a vest than their ability to deliver a line, and as the token blue-eyed blond Chicano, Damian Chapa is outstandingly awful, having to resist homosexual blandishments so camp one wonders if the whole movie might be a spoof in the worst possible taste. A mess and a waste.
In this stereotypically-fuelled moralistic gangster movie, the plot is poor, the acting worse and standing at three hours, proves about three hours too long. Trying to set move Mean Streets style film from being Italian-American to being Hispanic is no bad thing, as long as you actually have something worth writing about, which in this case hackford clearly does not.