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Blood In Blood Out aka Bound by Honor

Film Poster
Directed by Taylor Hackford
Produced by Taylor Hackford
Jerry Gershwin
Written by Screenplay:
Jimmy Santiago Baca
Jeremy Iacone
Floyd Mutrux
Ross Thomas
Starring Damian Chapa
Jesse Borrego
Benjamin Bratt
Enrique Castillo
Victor Rivers
Delroy Lindo
Tom Towles
Carlos Carrasco
Music by Bill Conti
Cinematography Gabriel Beristain
Editing by Fredric Steinkamp
Karl F. Steinkamp
Distributed by Hollywood Pictures
Release date(s) April 16, 1993
Running time Theatrical version:
180 min.
Director's cut:
190 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $35,000,000 (estimated)

Blood in Blood Out (also known as Bound by Honor) is a 1993 crime-drama film directed by Taylor Hackford. It follows the intertwining lives of the three Chicano relatives, Miklo (Damian Chapa), Cruz (Jesse Borrego) and Paco (Benjamin Bratt) from 1972 to the mid 1980s. 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. Blood in Blood Out was filmed throughout the Spanish-speaking areas of Los Angeles and inside California's San Quentin State Prison.


Miklo (Chapa) is a man of mixed ethnicity Mexican and white who, before coming to live with his cousins, attacked his father. Miklo has a Mexican accent however, his white appearance (fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes) from his caucasian father has made him less accepted among the people of El Pico Aliso barrio, where they have all grown up. It has also earned him the nickname "Milkweed." On his return from juvenile hall, Miklo visits his mother, who is actually the younger sister of Paco's mother, and 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 mate street gang. However, the Tres Puntos gang soon takes revenge by brutally attacking Cruz and damaging 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). While trying to escape, Miklo and Paco (Bratt) are apprehended by the police.

Their three paths diverge: Miklo is sent to San Quentin State Prison for violating his probation, Paco volunteers for military service in the United States Marine Corps and Cruz (Borrego) becomes a heroin addict. His addiction leads to him being disowned by his family after his 13-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 multiethnic 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 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 (Enrique Castillo). Miklo is brought to meet the head of La Onda by a fellow inmate, Popeye, who recognizes his gang tattoo from East Los Angeles. 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 their sex slave. After meeting La Onda's leader Montana, he is told the only way into La Onda is killing an enemy inmate, in Miklo's case a white inmate due to their current war and his White appearance. Miklo agrees to do so, and after gaining the trust of gambling lord Big Al; stabs him to death during a sexual encounter in the prison kitchen and stealing 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 is then told by Montana to work on his parole while enacting their orders. Based on Montana's mentoring, Miklo 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, where he is intercepted by Paco, now a decorated cop. Refusing to surrender peacefully, Miklo runs away. Paco screams in agony and 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 supply the Black and Hispanic inmates with all the cocaine they wish for as a means of having them kill each other while the Aryans run the prison economically. Montana, however, refuses to allow La Onda to enter the drug trade, saying that the gang's purpose is to protect the Chicano people. 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. Miklo knows that the Aryans are just using Carlos and when they are done with him they will eventually stop protecting him. 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 called Cheap Times. 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 kill him.

Meanwhile, 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. So the warden has a talk with Montana and he is sent to Chino and Folsom Prison to talk to the leaders of La Onda at each of the prisons. On the outside, a hit is put out on Smoky, for his role in the bombing of Cheap Times, but he escapes with his life and he calls Paco and tries to get protection in return for information on La Onda. As Paco arrives at the church, where he is to meet Smoky, he finds that Smoky is already dead.

Meanwhile, Montana is about to leave for Folsom and Chino, so he leaves Miklo in charge while he is gone. Montana is granted a special request, and he gets to stay overnight at Delano penetentiary 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 Black Guerilla Army (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., letting Paco believe that the conference has been successful.

Later, as the celebrations for The Day of the Dead explode through East L.A., enforcers for La Onda and the B.G.A. sweep through the walls of San Quentin, brutally slaughtering 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 Black Guerrilla Army as well.

As the mass murder makes headlines, various police officers such as Paco's partner Rollie are pleased with the violence as the death between inmates has caused taxpayers to save money. Paco, however 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 Latinos trying to raise their children in peace. Paco leaves his cousin in disgust, disowning him forever.

Later, Miklo's cellmate, "Magic," gives Miklo the mold which they used to send the forged orders to the B.G.A. hit man. Miklo sobs in grief over Montana's death, "I loved him!" Magic responds,

We both loved him, but we did what we had to do for La Onda. You were right.

As Miklo destroys the mold, Magic tells La Onda's new boss,

I give my life to you, Jefe.

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 which none of the gang members have marked with graffiti. In a 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.


Role Actor
Miklo Velka Damian Chapa
Cruz Candelaria Jesse Borrego
Paco Aguilar Benjamin Bratt
Montana Segura Enrique Castillo
Magic Mike Victor Rivers
Bonafide Delroy Lindo
Red Ryder Tom Towles
Popeye Saavedra Carlos Carrasco
Wallace Teddy Wilson
Chuey Raymond Cruz
Frankie Valente Rodriguez
Big Al Lanny Flaherty
Lightning Billy Bob Thornton
Carlos Geoffrey Rivas
Spider Ray Oriel
Geronimo Danny Trejo
Clavo Gary Tacon
Realthing Luis Contreras
Apache Paulo Tocha
Joker Eddie Perez
Ivan Ving Rhames
Prison librarian Richard Masur

External links

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