A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Blade

July 1, 2011

Blade

We own quite a few comic book movies, and quite a few vampire movies, but this film and its sequels are the only ones that qualify as both. In truth, though, it’s not really much based on the comic book from what I’ve been able to gather. I haven’t read the books but it looks like Blade was a king of cheesy seventies series that tried to capitalize on the blacksploitation craze of the time. This movie is more of a cool modern take on vampires. Influenced more by Whitewolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade series of games than anything else, or so it seemed to me.

What we have here is your basic martial arts, explosion filled vampire action movie. Right from the beginning it sets the tone very well, showing us that the vampires of this movie are not all old fogies in capes – they’re young (in appearance) social folks that like to party as much as they like to murder. We’re introduced to the vampires in an underground rave at a secret vampire club called bloodbath. It is called this because as the vampires dance about to the music they are sprayed with blood from overhead sprinklers. They’re all about hedonistic pleasure, thrashing about in the blood and toying with a snack that one of them brought along, right up until a single badass in a spotless black leather trench-coat comes along and starts to slaughter them. That would be Blade.

Blade, the daywalker, was from his mother’s womb untimely ripped while she was in the process of being turned into a vampire. As a result he has the recuperative powers of a vampire and the super strength, and the thirst for blood (which he barely contains) but he is not affected by sunlight and he ages like a normal human. We discover all this when he rescues a young lab tech from a hospital after she is attacked by a vampire he is hunting. He brings Karen back to his Blade-Lair where she meets his pal Whistler and sees all his cool toys.

It’s a good thing that we have Karen here because she’s a great all-purpose tool for the movie. She can ask all kinds of questions, which helps because there is a LOT of exposition to be laid out here regarding the vampires, their social structure, their weaknesses (crosses and holy water do nothing but silver can kill them – which I thought was werewolves) and Blade’s lifelong mission to hunt them down and kill them. She’s also conveniently a herpetologist specialising in blood-born diseases and therefore can provide not just some science lingo to handwave the existence of vampires in a fairly realistic modern world setting but also provide new weapons for Blade and a potential cure to his vampyrism. Furthermore, although she’s not really a romantic interest for Blade, she’s not too hard on the eyes and she eventually gets around to kicking a fair amount of ass in her own right during the final showdown.

Blade’s nemesis in this movie is an upstart vampire called Deacon Frost who is scheming to take over control of the vampire world from the elder council who currently rule. He’s also uncovered some long lost secret ritual which will help him in this goal – and of course the only thing standing in his way is Blade, whose blood also happens to be a key ingredient in Frost’s ritual.

I was kind of shocked to discover, when we started to catalogue our movies at the start of this project, that we didn’t own this DVD. It was odd. Odd because we owned the second and third Blade movies, so why not the first? Also odd because I really like this movie and used to own it at one time, so where did it go? This is a great DVD with a lot of fascinating extra material that’s well worth owning, so it surprised me to find that I didn’t have it any longer.

Really, the special features on the DVD are almost as interesting to me as the movie itself. For example: how many action movies have the cinematographer on the audio commentary track? Theo van de Sande is full of great tidbits about the techniques used to give this movie that slightly sharper than reality look which brings it so much to life. Things like using a strobe light synched to the camera aperture during the scene in the vampire night club to make the blood from the sprinklers look like sharp droplets instead of a stream. Things like using unique silver nitrate film for sharper contrasts and deeper shadows. It’s fascinating stuff.

Then there’s all the information on the movie’s action climax. The original ending (some parts of which are on the DVD) involved Frost becoming a “blood tornado” in an effects laden mess that left early test audiences disappointed because it didn’t deliver a good final clash between Frost and Blade. It just didn’t work. So the entire final confrontation was re-worked with a great swordfight between the two of them and Blade using a completely different method to defeat Frost. Which meant that the means he used to overcome Frost had to be layered into the rest of the film. It involved re-writes, re-shoots, new plot devices and new action scenes… all of which are so seamlessly incorporated into the final product that I’m not really sure in some cases what is new material and what was part of the earlier cut. Even more amazing, considering all the tweaking and re-working that had to be done on the movie, is that the film actually works very well as a whole.

The acting is perfect for this genre of action film. Wesley Snipes makes a great Blade with all his sneering and his martial arts action flare. Khris Khristofferson is so memorable as Blade’s mentor and partner Whistler that the writers of the sequel had to find a way to undo his off-screen death so he could be in that movie too. Stephen Dorf is just the right as Frost, combining ambition with and egotistical swagger. I know that one of Amanda’s favorite parts of the whole movie is Donal Logue as Quinn, Frost’s oft-dismembered right-hand man. And there’s N’Bushe Wright as Karen, who does an admirable job of moving the plot along.

Why and how did I let this movie escape from my collection? I have no idea, and I’m glad we have this movie project as an excuse to re-purchase it so that I own it once more. This is a DVD well worth having in my opinion.

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July 1, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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