THE BREEDMOVIE REVIEW
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E.C. McMullen Jr.
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A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
Back in August of this year (2001), I saw this really cool movie on the Starz cable channel called THE BREED. I liked it so much that it was a pity the flick wasn't available on tape or DVD, but the movie was a Made-For-Cable deal so there you had it. I told you all about it and made the wish that someday it might be available for all to see.
Well a funny thing happens with the Internet. One of the screenwriters, Christos N. Gage, was surfing through the search engines looking to see if anyone had made a comment about his movie. He came across my opinon and liked it so well that he decided to write me. Then I wrote back, one thing led to another and the next thing you know he's handling the Fanboy Comics section of feoamante.com*!
Another cool thing that happened was that Starz showed THE BREED a few more times and it became popular enough for the company behind it, Sony Pictures, to release it on VHS and DVD. So now I can tell you ALL about it!
Directed by Michael Oblowitz, THE BREED stars Martial artist Bokeem Woodbine (WISHMASTER 2) as the human police detective, Stephen Grant. Stephen works for a highly restrictive government agency called NSA - which may or may not be the same as the USA's NSA. Stephen is a black skinned cop who is newly partnered with a white skinned cop who he has never heard of before. Martial artist and star of the HIGHLANDER television episodes, Adrian Paul (THE RED MASQUE OF DEATH, DARK SHADOWS [TV], HIGHLANDER: ENDGAME), plays the vampire detective, Aaron Gray.
Set in a strange alternate timeline* that is both our future and, somehow, our past, this world discovers that there are Vampires living among them. A population of 4,000 undead live in a ghetto district of the city reminiscent of the photographs of Jewish ghettos in Nazi Germany (this alternate world also has a Nazi past). The country is a police state with Soviet style uniforms, rampant poverty, repressive government, and state run radio constantly gibbering out a barrage of Government mottos. Like AM talk radio without an off-switch.
The leader of the Vampires wants to bring about a peace between his kind and the humans. The vampires want to raise their families without worry from sharp stakes and other weapons in the day. They are strong, fast, and immortal, yes, but they are also so very easily killed (a sharp stake through the heart will kill a vampire, so will a beheading and setting one on fire. Come to think of it. That would kill a regular person too!). Plus, there are far more of us and our weapons than there are of them. Like zombies, we retain the power of sheer overwhelming numbers.
So the vampires want to integrate and ingratiate themselves by promising to never ever drink human blood again (their scientists have invented blood alternatives like we created veggie burgers). But as they seek this goal, another vampire is running through the streets and feeding off of humans. This "sport" threatens to wreck the fragile truce, and in a country that is ruled by a repressive dictatorship, a little paranoia is no where near enough.
It is such a world that highlights this modern re-telling in a wholly intriguing way.^
Grant is hard-boiled, violent, and not above brutality to get his questions answered. Finding that his crude language irritates the more sophisticated Gray, only increases his desire to aggravate his new partner.
However, among the more powerful vampires, Grant can no longer use his brutal interrogative ways and, when confronted the beautiful and dangerous Lucy (Ling Bai: THE CROW) Grant finds himself becoming more of a human being in the company of inhumans. He finds himself drawn to this deadly and powerful vampiress - who needs neither his protection or provision - and who finds herself just as inexplicably drawn to him.
In another scene, when Aaron accuses Steven of being a racist, Grant must contend with the fact that though Aaron is caucasian in appearance and Jewish by descent, he considers himself no more a member of humanity than Steven, an African American cop, woud think of himself as a vampire.
Problems with the movie, and there are a few, stem from the occasional slide into cliché. Suspects, upon introduction, launch into "TV suspect" monologues. Some scenes that could have been intriguing - like our first introduction into the ghetto world of the vampires - are sloppy and confusing. Aaron Gray's flashback of how he became a vampire is at turns touching and disappointing.
These points are minor in the body of the film.
Some have faulted the slow and intentional pace of THE BREED as compared to, say, BLADE. BLADE, however, was an action Horror movie, whereas THE BREED is decidedly a Horror Mystery.
While telling its tale, THE BREED touches on issues of racism, prejudice, and the roles of men and women in western society. Fun touches are added by having the various suspects named after famous vampires in literature in film. Subplots that involve, among other things, a lab created virus that will kill vampires, adds to the distrust and tension between our two main protangonists. All this put together with an atmosphere of film noir creates a film both visually and mentally stimulating. The DVD comes with subtitles in English, French, Spanish Portuguese, Chinese Korean, and Thai. Both 5.1 Dolby digital sound and 2 channel Dolby Surround. Anamorphic video full screen and widescreen, five trailers and commentary by Director Michael Oblowitz and actor Adrian Paul.
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