Retro Review: Blade

Here are some updated thoughts (2015):  Wow, a lot has changed in the vampire genre since Blade hit the theaters in 1998.  Yep, we had two more sequels, but we have also been subjected to the single worst thing that could have ever happened to the genre:  Twilight.  What began this slide from vampires being evil, badass, sadistice undead into flamboyant, metro-sexual models?  I make reference to the turn in this review . . . Interview With the Vampire.  It’s the first instance that really popularized vampires and lead us down the road from the former, to our current instantiation of glittering 100+ year old vampire perverts preying on 16 year old children.  Yuck and creepy.

Give me Blade vampires over the shit we have today!

Blade: O.K., Vampire Anatomy 101.  Crosses and running water don’t do dick, so forget about what you see in the movies. You use a stake, silver, or sunlight.  You know how to use one of these? (Hands her a gun.)

Dr. Karen Jenson: No, but I sure as hell learn quick.

Blade: Safety’s off, first round’s already chambered.  Silver hollow-point filled with garlic.  Aim for the head or the heart. Anything else, it’s your ass.

Blade, could have easily been renamed Vampires Go Gangsta (or equivalent) as it’s an urban take on the age old vampire genre.  The above passage is predominately how the dialogue throughout the entire movie plays.  It’s like something from the WB network; like Roswell or Smallville or some arcane legend modified and updated to accommodate modern day concepts, slang, setting . . . and modern day attitude.

The Movie:

Blade (Eric Brooks) is not your typical protagonist.  His mother, having been bitten by a vampire, died while giving birth.  Eric now has several unique characteristics that make him different from other humans.  The most important (and crippling) being the burning desire for blood . . . the hunger of the forsaken.  Other traits of the forsaken include all the standards: sensitivity to light, ability to rapidly heal, immeasurable strength, etc.  He is the best of both worlds; the good and the bad; the dark and the light.

The movie starts out with a gruesome vampire “Blood Bath” club scene which sets the tone for how the whole movie will go.  A vampire-ess seduces a unwitting, 20-something guy to the club in a meat butchering plant.  Perplexed, but still undaunted, the hormone controlled soon-to-be victim enters the party.  Soon, bizarre things start happening.  People are looking at him . . . hungrily . . . He hears things, but not quite; sees things move, yet sees nothing.  The party continues and comes to a climax with the fire sprinklers spraying forth pure blood, showering the inhabitants.  This freaks the guy out and he starts to run, only to be pummeled and “tenderized” for the “meat eaters.”  Then . . . in walks our hero . . . The Daywalker, as he is known to the vamps.

At this point a killer fight scene with guns, knives, swords, and martial arts ensues and good times are had by all, except the vampires.

Based on the comic book of the same name, Blade is a half-mortal, half-immortal bent on avenging his mother’s death and destined to rid the Earth of a race of vampires.  Meanwhile, the modern-day technologically advanced vamps he’s targeted are in pursuit of his special blood type needed to summon an evil god who plays a key role in their plan to execute the human race.

Director:  Stephen Norrington
Genre:  Science Fiction / Horror
Media:  Film, 120 minutes
Rating: R
Budget: $40 million
Year: August 21, 1998
3.5 out of 5 stars

Later, a vampire known as Quinn, is taken to the hospital, mistaken for a burned victim of the party by the police. There Quinn awakens and attacks Dr. Karen Jenson.  Luckily, Blade is around and brings the good doctor to his hideout.

With the help of Whistler, Blade’s sidekick, they subdue the doctor, in hopes of preventing her from turning into a vampire.  After she wakes up, Blade takes her home and explains what is happening to her. She doesn’t believe him but accepts (get this) a gift of “vampire mace” for protection.  Ok.  Jenson is obviously attacked and Blade saves her again.  The doctor is upset that she was used as bait but, in typical Blade style, he says “Get over it . . . ”  Nice huh?

After investigating, Blade is led by the doctor’s attacker to a secret hide out for the vampires. While there he learns of a secret vampire ritual that a younger vampire, Deacon Frost, is trying to employ to resurrect a vampire blood god.  Blade, obviously, must stop this from happening, since it means the end of all humanity if this “blood god” is resurrected.

After a series of less than stellar encounters between Blade and other vampires, but which include very good action, the final showdown takes place. Deacon and Blade end up having a kick arse final battle and the ending scene adds a few twists to the plot that make all the other corny, cheese-ball lines and unbelievable encounters tolerable.

The Wrap Up:

No one actor steals the show here, but all major ones perform adequately.  Snipes is perfect as Blade. I don’t think they could have put a better actor in the role and get the same results.  Stephan Dorff, Frost, is fine.  He’s got several good one liners, but overall he just comes off as a very bland character.  Kris Kristofferson was a funny surprise as the crotchety Whistler.

For the most part, Blade is ultra action and nothing more. . . and that’s what it’s meant to be.  If you’re looking for plot, character development, accurate vampire lore, etc. DO NOT bother with this movie.  Blade, the movie and character, operate on their own set of rules different from all the other vampire/horror films you’re accustomed to.  You are apt not to like this deviation if you’re a purist.  However, for those of us that can check those things at the door, it’s a fairly decent movie.  It’s fun, to say the least.  The action is great and that’s what you see it for.  The assumption here is that vampirism is a virus and can be controlled by serum, it’s not a form of undead, that you can go back to being human if only you can get it out of your DNA.

The Bottomline:

This movie is pure action with a side of science fiction thrown in.  It is not an “artsy” film like Interview With the Vampire, yet it has a unique style all its own.  Blade doesn’t follow any set of “rules” laid out by traditional vampire lore, but as I said, it is a consistently good action movie.  Watch it for that alone.

Words © 1998-2021, Neal Ulen. All rights reserved.
Images/videos cited © to their respective owner(s).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To the top