Blood of Redemption Review – Keep it dumb, Lundgren

Blood of Redemption opens with an In medias res structure that belies a pretty straightforward tale of betrayal. It’s the kind of storytelling that will leave you confused if you don’t turn your brain on, and that’s Blood of Redemption’s crucial mistake. It’s called Blood of Redemption, it stars Dolph Lundgren, and it’s brimming with corny action scenes and cheesy acting — do you really want to turn your brain on for that?

You can almost feel a smarter, more thoughtful plot brewing beneath the Syfy channel shark-movie-of-the-week production values, but it never truly surfaces. The acting is mediocre-to-terrible all around, with big names like Dolph Lundgren and Billy Zane phoning in passable performances while Gianni Capaldi delivers what would be so-bad-it’s-good if the movie wasn’t taking itself so seriously. The true pro here is Vinny Jones, who has the advantage of being Vinny Jones, but he’s still awesome for giving it his all.

The film is schizophrenic, bouncing between deadly serious drama and fight sequences that would make the cast of They Live blush. There’s a balance to achieving fun-bad cinema, but Blood of Redemption is too dry to capture laughs with its corny moments. A shameless Godfather quote could have elicited a laugh, but a pained groan was about the best I could muster.

A fine piece of cover there.

Once the film gets out of clunkily explaining itself, the plot does level out somewhat. The core story is a whodunit with a mobster foundation. A murder in the Grimaldi crime family leads to jail time for its second-in-command and a change of guard, as the new guys take over a family business that doesn’t belong to them.

In the chaos, the family bodyguard, Axel (Dolph Lundgren), goes into hiding in an attempt to piece it all together. He even creates a crazy conspiracy wall! Working in parallel is Kurt Grimaldi (Gianna Capaldi), playing the role of the film’s biggest plothole. Why in the world would the FBI hire the son of a mob boss
That implausibility leaks into the films later plot twists, which are certainly twisty, but barely make a lick of sense. It’s never entirely clear who the protagonist is in Blood of Redemption, and the redemption at the end is hard to get excited about. The whole mess wraps up in an oddly grim manner, overlayed with a smug monologue that explains how clever the film thinks it is.
Blood of Redemption could have used a script rewrite and an injection of energy into the cast. To make matters worse the cinematography and editing is every bit as cold and clinical as the slickly designed DVD cover suggests. Even taken on the B-grade terms it aspires to, it never connects. If you’re looking for a dumb, modern action movie starring Dolph Lundgren, you’d be far better served with The Expendables 2 — a film that understood exactly what it was and reveled in it.

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