Blade II


After seeing the first “Blade” movie, I called it the best comic book adaptation ever (since then, incidentally, Bryan Singer one-upped it with his “X-Men”). Of course, it’s ironic that the comic being adapted here is near forgotten. Safe for the recent MAX relaunch, I’ve never even seen a “Blade” book. Nonetheless, that first movie was real cool, and I was looking forward to the sequel, which has Mexican horror filmmaker Guillermo del Toro succeeding to Stephen Norrington in the director’s chair. I’d never seen a movie of his myself, but I’ve heard good things about his work, notably from his buddy Harry Knowles, who wrote on AICN that del Toro “eats
pussy better than any man alive”, and that “Blade II is cinematic muff diving of the finest order.” What?!? Maybe if your lady friend gets off from having her lover hysterically pull and bite and spit her juicy bits, and still… To me, all the movie did was suck, and hard.

This second installment (in what is to be a trilogy) tries to crank things up even more than in the action packed original, which makes for an obnoxiously hyper-active movie. “Blade II” is all over the place, opting for flash and noise instead of invention and rhythm every time. I think the reason the first “Blade” worked and this one doesn’t is that Norrington made his movie in 1998, a full year before “The Matrix” came along and every action director figured they could ape its style. Hence such masturbatory messes of CGI, wire-fu and bullet time as “Tomb Raider”, “The One”, and now “Blade II”. What the makers of these movies fail to understand is that, while the Wachovsky’s visual gimmicks were nifty flourishes, what really made their sci-fi flick such a thrill was its compelling characters, intriguing storyline and graceful direction, all things its knock-offs forgo. So we end up with nearly unwatchable movies which are deadly boring even though they desperately throw everything at us at frantic speed.

Del Toro seems to think that the most loud, frenetic and violent he makes everything, the coolest his movie is gonna be. Dead wrong. His action sequences are so choppily edited that we can barely see what’s going on. We can glimpse some potentially cool fight choreography between the non-stop jump-cutting, but it’s hard to actually enjoy it. Oh, how I miss the good old days of movies like “Enter the Dragon”, where you could sit back and admire the physical prowess of a brilliant athlete like Bruce Lee instead of being jerked around by show-off camera tricks and digital effects that will look dated in eighteen months anyway.

You might notice that I haven’t even given you a plot summary yet, but that’s because even the filmmakers didn’t seem to care about plot. Basically, it’s about how Blade (Wesley Snipes), the day-walking half-human half-vampire, unites with his undead enemies to take on a new breed of creatures of the night, the Reapers, a bunch of really tough blood suckers who prey on humans and vampires alike. So Blade, his old partner Whistler (Kris Kristofferson, back even though he died in the first movie) and their annoying stoner sidekick Scud (Norman Reedus) team up with the BloodPack, a bunch of highly trained and oh so colorful vampires, each with a distinctive quirk which make them perfectly fitted to be turned into a line of action figures. I’ll admit that the Reapers are pretty cool, with their shooting tongue-fangs-jaws thingie, “Aliens”-style, and their leader Nomak (Luke Goss) is the only interesting presence in the movie, even though he’s thrown in a subplot involving family melodrama which feels like “Gladiator” leftovers.

As for Snipes… I can’t say anything good or bad about him. He’s a blank. He still looks badass, at least from what I could tell when the camera was on him more than half a second. Then again, he hardly ever takes off his sunglasses, and he’s given absolutely no character development, he’s just a dude who takes out vampires in countless confused/confusing fights. “Blade II” is not as much a movie as a video game demo, and a lousy one at that. Watch the first movie again and pretend they never even made this sorry excuse of a sequel.