by Del Harvey
Bloody good show.
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Half-human, half-vampire, Blade returns to fight a vicious new strain of uber-vampires in this nightmare vision of the Marvel comic, this time around directed by Guillermo del Toro (Dia de la Bestia, Cronos). These new super-vampires are called “Reapers,” as in “reaping a harvest.” That’s us humans and the garden-variety vampire, apparently. The film opens with Blade searching for Whistler—I won’t tell you how he survived the first film or what happens, because I think that’s a nice element that true fans of the series will want to experience for themselves. But, once Whistler is found, the hunt is on again. This time a duo of ninja vampires breaks in to Blade’s safehouse with a special request; that Blade lead their troop of militant-trained vampires, the Bloodpack, on a hunt to annihilate these Reapers. One of the Bloodpack is Nyssa, daughter of the “supreme” vampire leader. He’s a very waxy-looking dude who doesn’t get much sun. She’s a tanned, athletic, beautiful creature who must have stolen a whole case of fake tan in a bottle.
All right, all right…I’m getting off the track. Well, I’m not going to tell you any more of the story. Suffice to say that Wesley Snipes, who is a 5th Degree Black Belt and also practices capoeira, an old Brasilian form of martial arts, kicks some nasty super-vampire booty. Not easily, mind you, but he do get the job done, eventually. After a fashion. Sort of. Well, go see the film and you’ll know what I mean.
Director Guillermo del Toro pulls out all the stops for this one. We are treated to a whole new pantheon of camera and special effects tricks, all of which can easily be traced to other recent films, but which also are very dazzling and pack a visual punch that will have you drained from clutching your seat from the start right through to the very end.
The new strain of vampires bear effects which are reminiscent of earlier great horror films, such as John Carpenter’s The Thing or Alien. But they are also unique unto themselves and quite horrific and disturbing. Like the first film, Blade II is destined to become a cult classic, for the visual imagery and effects alone.
Snipes’ martial artistry is truly amazing to watch. The fight choreography and setups are very impressive. His acrobatics from start to finish are breathtaking and a real joy to watch. He is so good at this I found myself wishing for a pairing with Jackie Chan in some fun adventure pic. But, nobody asks me these things.
The classically stoic Whistler is back, and that’s a good thing. The character Snipes portrayed in the first film was much more aloof and distant. He is a bit more animated here, but it’s always good to see his “family” back again. And Kris Kristofferson is an excellent actor. There is a scene early on where Whistler is shirtless. For a 66-year-old man, Kristofferson looks in much better shape than a lot of 30-year-olds I’ve seen around the office. Maybe he’ll generate some interest in the older man, again.
Nyssa (Leonor Varela), the head bloodsucker’s daughter, is beautiful and Blade falls for her quickly. Well, who could blame him? One of her Bloodpack is Rienhardt, played by a bald-headed, sunglass wearing Ron Pearlman (who co-starred in del Toro’s Cronos). He’s good at being nasty and comedy relief at the same time. The remainder of the cast includes Karel Roden as a lawyer for the head vampire (he was the head sicko in 15 Minutes), Luke Goss as Nomak, the lead Reaper, and Norman Reedus (Gossip) as Scud, a hippie-cum-weapons expert who has befriended Blade in Whistler’s absence.
It is impossible to recapture the magic of seeing something for the first time. Blade held that magic, and re-watching the same film gets old. Until something better comes along, Blade II gets an early vote from me as one of the best action pics of the year. Right on, Wesley.
Del Harvey is a writer and the founder of Film Monthly. He lives in Southern California, is a devout Bears fan, and recently taught screenwriting at Columbia College for giggles.
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