BLADE IIMOVIE REVIEW
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"Them vampires blow'd up good!
The first BLADE movie, being the beginning of the on again, off again Marvel comic book saga, was top heavy with exposition. There was not much one could do about it. Where the comic book, through many issues and even more guest features was able to develop BLADE's character over time, the movie naturally had to present all the variables in one fell swoop so we could get on with the story.
In essence, Blade (Wesley Snipes: BLADE) is half human, half vampire, all bad ass. Vampires are either made, thanks to a viral strain carried by the bloodsuckers, or they are born. Vampires that are made stay frozen in whatever age they were turned. Vampires that are born, on the other hand, age - though much slower than humans. Otherwise, vampire babies would remain babies for all eternity. An eternity of changing diapers. Ugh!
So if you were born a vampire, you grow to adulthood, then spend the rest of your eternity (a loose term here) growing old. You stay young for quite awhile, which is a good thing. But then, you eventually stay old for quite a spell, which sucks (aah, shut up!).
So where are Blade's Mom & Pop? Well he doesn't remember much about his human Mom and even less about his Pop. If watching Oprah Winfrey or Rikki Lake (or just listening to every rap cd ever made) is any indication, a lot of black kids growing up in the ghetto, like Blade, can relate to having no idea who their own father is. The idea I get from most rap cds is that its fine to slam a ho' (a lady if she's pre-slammed), but nobody is down with being a parent. That's for chumps. Turns out that Blade's actual Pop was a white vampire. But hey, there are a lot of pasty white Eminem wannabee's who love to front the worst of what a culture has to offer.
What those fatherless kids probably can't relate to is actually being raised by a white guy father figure who spends his days killing your own people (imagine Mike Tyson raised by David Duke). The Caucasian in question is an old fart biker named Whistler (Kris Kristofferson: BLADE). He tried to kill little Blade by burning him in the sunlight. When he saw that Blade don't burn, Whistler got wicked thoughts and raised him to be a vampire killer. Think of a mulatto Klansman. You can't? Oh well. That's the idea I get when watching BLADE. There are some interesting themes going on in the background, and I'm not a bit surprised that Snipes wants to keep this project running.
At any rate, Blade kills vampires because they kill humans. Blade doesn't kill people because he doesn't drink blood, he shoots up instead. This keeps him from needing blood though surely you gotta get tired of that intravenous crap eventually! Whistler is a very educated biker and whipped up Blade's alterno-hemo serum himself. This just goes to show that you can learn a thing or two by hanging out in those El Cajon, California meth labs and playing with chemicals in the bathtub.
Whistler also invented all of Blade's nifty weapons that turn vampires into blazing charcoal with so much as a nick from a bullet or indeed, a nick from the blade of Blade. Blade is bad-ass, no two ways about it: one of the most bad-ass heroes to ever come out of American cinema and a true showcase for Wesley Snipes amazing range as an actor.
He played the hip-hop jive talkin' basketball player in "White Men Can't Jump" and a drag queen in "To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Love Julie Newmar". Wesley has range, damn it!
So that's a hell of a lot of exposition, yes? You can see why they had to include all of that in the first flick just so what you were watching would make some kind of sense.
Director Guillermo del Toro (CRONOS, MIMIC, THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE), along with screenwriter David S. Goyer (DARK CITY, BLADE) ain't about to beat the same horse twice. There is a very minimal period of voice over in the beginning - which for me beats five minutes of visual recap - and then it's on to the action. If you are still lost, too bad. The general attitude I got from BLADE II was WTFFM, (Watch The First F*cking Movie).
BLADE II is the further adventures of Blade. Not so much an entirely new story line, as a fleshing out of the world in which he lives. Whistler, who was left for dead by the vampire hoards of Deacon in BLADE, shot himself.
In BLADE II, Blade, with the help of his trusty new (and younger) sidekick, Scud (Norman Reedus: MIMIC, 8MM, Masters of Horror: CIGARETTE BURNS), goes in search of Whistler: whose body was never found. As an insult to the man, his still warm corpse was spirited away overseas. The bloodsucking hoards of Eastern Europe gave Whistler transfusions of vampire blood so he would become immortal, and be tortured in revenge for the rest of his unnatural days. After much fast and furious ass-kicking (and those great exploding head shots! Sigh! I really love these movies!), Blade saves his friend and stepfather. The only question is, where do Whistler's loyalties now lie? Has he become more vampire than human? Has he turned?
As this question is pondered, Blade is approached by some serious chop-socky vampires dressed in protective garb to ward off the cut of Blade's weapons or the special sunlamps he keeps in his special Bat-Garage. His sworn enemies, the vampires, of which he has killed thousands, request a truce, on bended knee no less. Blade cannot help but be intrigued when he is specially invited to enter the inner sanctum of the rulers of all vampires. Why in the hell would they invite him and why in the hell would he accept? Because, he is told, "There is now something far worse than us.".
What could be worse than a super fast, super strong human sized tick?
How about a parasite that feeds off of both humans and vampires - and what's worse, changes them into freakazoids that are reminiscent of both Nosferatu and Stan Winston's jawless ultra-bad-ass alien, PREDATOR? Horror fans may also appreciate the fact that such facial monster effects were first seen in SPECIES II, based on the designs of, but not actually created by, H.R. Giger's work from the first SPECIES movie.
David S. Goyer's screenplay adds to the richness of Blade's character while injecting keenly interesting facets to the world of vampires in general and how they exist in our world.
Guillermo's direction is high octane and respects the spirit of the comic book beautifully. What's more, care is taken to deliver a movie that is both action packed as well as being creepy and horrific. No easy task to set quiet foreboding and fiery displays of macho driven fight scenes all at the same time, yet Del Toro pulled it off so well that he's already been signed to direct the second sequel*.
A major difference in BLADE II as well as BLADE is the total disparagement of Vampires. Today's Vampire stories are invariably half-assed and boring, mainly because the majority of writers beat the same tropes, same characters, same clichés, and every other tired convention to mother f*cking death. God I've become sick of vampire stories, and I'll tell you why.
Every damn vampire falls into the category of shallow party animal or dark and brooding morose whiner. Book, after book, after book, after damn book. Are any of these writer's even remotely capable of something that brushes past, say ORIGINALITY?
Well yes. There is Brian Lumley for one. Watching Goyer's BLADE and BLADE II reminds me of a Brian Lumley book. In Lumley's world, Vampire's are parasites, predators, and think nothing of ensuring their immortality by becoming mass murderers.
In Goyer's Vampire world, you sure as hell wouldn't want to ever be a vampire. Vampire's don't get burned by the sun only to be resurrected at a later date. You don't stick 'em with a stake (That's what I say! Stick 'em with a stake!), and bury them. If you cut them, stake them, or expose them to sunlight, the suckers EXPLODE! There ain't anything left and that's all she wrote! And vampires are so wickedly easy to kill (if you can move fast like Blade).
If you find yourself in a tight spot, hit 'em with a sunlamp! (That's what I say! Hit 'em with a sunlamp!). They go ka-blooey and it's all over! This makes the vampires in BLADE II rather shallow and high strung. Life is a wretchedly delicate thing when you're a vampire. In fact, you'd have to be NUTS to wanna be a vampire in Goyer's world! Much better to be a half breed like Blade!
BLADE II is a furious rush machine that never sacrifices story or plot line. Anyone who loves Hong Kong action flicks is going to go ape over BLADE II. Del Toro blended Horror with the fun of wild and high flying chop-socky movies. Even better, there is never a false step where suspension of belief (already stretched thin by the very concept) is further plucked in favor of a nifty looking scene: This is how Horror is supposed to be done.
One more thing: For those of you out there who felt the ending to BLADE was anti-climatic, be assured that BLADE II pulls out all the stops and goes hell-bent for leather.
My only real gripe was that, during the fight scenes, the camera was often too close for the viewer to register more than a blur of motion without being sure just who was hitting whom and who was winning. This doesn't stop BLADE II from scoring even higher that its predecessor. BLADE II ROCKS!
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