2002 - R - 125 Mins.
|Director: Guillermo Del Toro
|Producer: Wesley Snipes, Peter Frankfurt
|Written By: David S. Goyer
|Starring: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman, Leonor Varela, Thomas Kretschmann
|Review by: Harrison Cheung
|Official Site: www.blade2.com/
Directed by Guillermo del Toro (‘Hellboy,’ ‘The Devil’s Backbone,’ ‘Mimic’), ‘Blade II’ is a straightforward action flick with much panache and slick production values that befits a sequel to the polished 1998 high tech vampire movie ‘Blade’. Starring Wesley Snipes as the title character, ‘Blade II’ expands the mythology of the first movie – a subculture of modern day vampires.
Ready to party at Club Vampire?
Based on a Marvel comic series (the same comic publisher behind ‘Spiderman’), Blade is a half-mortal-half-vampire who is a master of martial arts and can tolerate the daylight – unlike his vampire kindred. Blade spends his time as a vigilante, hunting down vampire lairs and killing them because he detests how they murder humans in order to feed. By comparison, Blade is happy to visit a blood bank as his diner.
In ‘Blade II,’ the vampires reach a truce with Blade as they are a highly political species. Something is killing and feeding off vampires so they’ve come to ask for Blade’s help to eliminate the threat. This new “super-vampire” infects its victims so that they in turn become “super-vampires” – creatures who’s chins can split apart like giant insectoid mandibles (good thing del Toro had that ‘Mimic’ experience!). Realizing that they are no longer on top of the food chain, the Vampire Nation appeals to Blade’s sense of morals to help them.
It’s an uneasy truce as Blade is given a crack Vampire SWAT team that includes a wonderfully obnoxious Ron Perlman (Hellboy himself) as a redneck murderer and the Vampire Princess, Nyssa (played by the beautiful Leonor Varela). Vampires love black so the SWAT team looks like a fashionable group of metrosexuals out for a night at an S&M club... or Sprockets, anyone?
‘Blade II’ is very entertaining as it is unusual – a hybrid of 2 genres – martial arts and vampires - updated for the Matrix crowd. It’s also well-written by David Goyer who’s built a career of writing up hammy gothic sci-fi fantasy stories with grave seriousness like ‘The Puppet Masters,’ ‘Dark City,’ the first ‘Blade’ movie and currently ‘Batman Begins.’ (Goyer gets to direct the upcoming ‘Blade III’!) There’s a cultural richness when the vampires speak their variant of Romanian – subtitled for us non-vampires to read. We get an almost Shakespearean tale of revenge and politics as ‘Blade II’ reveals that there’s a lot more at stake than just an unusual new strain of super-vampires. There are a number of surprise twists and revelations that add to the movie’s fun because it takes the Vampire Nation very seriously.
Snipes hams it up as the star of his own franchise. Blade is cocky with one-liners that even Schwarzenegger would be embarrassed to say. And there seems to be a trend for leading men to buff up so Snipes has a number of opportunities to show off his tattooed body. But German actor Thomas Kretschmann almost steals the movie as Damaskinos, the Lord of the Vampires. With almost translucent white skin, he looks and sounds like Gary Oldman’s Dracula with a regal bearing and millennia of absolute rule.
However del Toro knows what people come to see in a ‘Blade’ movie – super choreographed martial arts with some nasty and gory special effects. With each kill, vampires disintegrate into thin air. There’s a nasty disco where vampires are enjoying a smorgasbord. And Blade battles a bad guy like it’s the ultimate wrestling match with body slams that break concrete.
Fast-paced, an intriguingly involving story, and some eye-popping special effects bode well for the ‘Blade’ franchise. ‘Blade III: Trinity’ opens December 2004!