One movie genre predominantly male-driven since inception is action. You've got your classic scenario where a man is wrongfully crossed and goes on a mission to avenge his family and his honor, and there's always plenty of bloodshed and flying bullets. Whenever women appear in these movies, they are typically scantily clad, sexualized, or victimized.
Women are scarcely the heroes in action tales, but that's all about to change with John Stockwell's In the Blood. It helps that Stockwell's leading lady is a professional award-winning MMA fighter, Gina Carano, and his villain, played by Amaury Nolasco, is a strong actor who is more than happy to allow his character's ass to get kicked for the sake of film.
In the Blood follows newlyweds Ava and Derek who go on their honeymoon to this "undisclosed" island (that looks very much like Puerto Rico). There, Derek gets injured and captured, and Ava takes it upon herself to rescue her husband.
Ava, played by Carano, will stop at nothing to find her husband, and her search ultimately leads her to Nolasco's character, Silvio.
"I wouldn't want to describe him as the cliché guy of being a 'villain' or a 'menace' or a 'bad guy,'" Nolasco says. "Silvio is a native from this undisclosed island, and he would definitely give anything for his people - at any cost."
Silvio would also do anything to survive, including capturing an American tourist and using his blood to keep himself alive.
"One of the things that this character goes through in the movie is having an illness," he explains. He wanted to do something physically to get the point across, so he and Stockwell had the character lose an eye. Toward this effect, Nolasco wore a contact lens.
That Nolasco's character is sick and evil, and Carano's character is strong and good is no coincidence. Nolasco says survival of the fittest is the best way to describe In the Blood.
"There's this saying in Spanish, Dios dijo, ahí los dejo y que viven listo del pendejo, which basically means, God said 'I'll leave you guys there and to each its own, may the strongest survive.' It's survival of the fittest, and that's exactly what it comes down to, and clearly Gina is the fittest of us all," says Nolasco, adding with a laugh, "I got my ass kicked -- literally -- by Gina Carano!"
He admits that when he first read in the script that he would be fighting a girl, he wasn't worried - "how hard could it be?" But after he saw what Carano was capable of, he quickly changed his tune.
Carano did her own stunts in the movie, according to Nolasco, and he describes how he also did a few himself.
"There's this one fight sequence at the end, and while we were fighting - talk about a strong woman -- she just picked me up like a feather and threw me down. I almost lost my shoulder, and when they yelled 'cut,' I had to ask for my double for the next take!"
While speaking of Carano, Nolasco could only gush about his co-star, calling her beautiful both inside and out, and a strong, talented woman. When asked about his thoughts on females taking over the action movie genre and surfacing as the titular heroines, Nolasco quickly responded, "I've always said how you guys are taking over."
"Women have this world by the balls, they just let the guys pretend they do."
He goes on to say how he feels actresses like Carano are empowering to other women and good role models for young girls.
"I'm not saying to go out and kick every guy's ass, but female action stars are good role models for girls to see how strong women are -- sometimes even stronger than men."
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Carano's character, Ava, "fought for what she wanted. She knew her husband was out there and there was no stopping her."
"What I love about this movie is that it's not just some actress with choreographed fight scenes, when you see Gina fight, you know she really kicks ass -- there's nothing unbelievable in this movie."
In the Blood opens at Palace 18 Cinemas, 11865 SW 26th St., Miami, Friday, April 4.