Blade (1998) Review

I have seen “Blade” before, I didn’t think much of it. I thought it was silly and indulged itself too often in dumb and over the top action sequences. Upon my second viewing of “Blade” I found myself liking it a lot more. This time I thought it was silly and indulged itself in dumb and over the top action sequences. It’ll split people that way, and maybe I have just loosened up since my initial viewing. Either way, “Blade” is a fun time even if it doesn’t exactly take the mind along for the ride.

Vampires. Blade (Wesley Snipes) is a half-vampire half-human that is referred to as a “Daywalker”. He possesses nearly all of the benefits of being a vampire along with being able to survive in daylight (in this movie vampires explode rather gloriously if exposed to sunlight). The downside is he still thirsts for blood, and as Blade hates vampires with a passion, this simply won’t do. He has been quelling his thirst for blood with the help of his old friend Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) but he is beginning to reject the serum.

Blade meets Karen (N’Bushe Wright) who serves as his sidekick who also potentially has a cure for Blade’s thirst. Meanwhile, Blade has to deal with a group of vampires led by Deacon (Stepehen Dorff) who are going against the secretive vampire council and intend to resurrect the mysterious “La Magra”. An ancient vampire God that can only be brought back through a ceremony that requires Blade’s unique blood, which he is most certainly unwilling to give.

Right off the bat, Wesley Snipe’s Blade introduces himself to us in the most direct way possible. He enters a club that is literally showering in blood, and slaughters them all. The action scene is well choreographed and serves to suggest the type of film you will be watching. The scene itself is made more impressive by the spraying of blood and the CGI effect of vampires literally burning away, turning it into a visually visceral feast. Director Stephen Norrington knows what he is doing when it comes to elevating action beyond “punch, punch, punch, smack”

In all honesty there isn’t really much to “Blade” beyond that. Blade himself is only somewhat interesting as the anti-hero of sorts that seems to only be motivated to kill vampires for the sake of killing vampires, saving people is just a perk of the job. He nearly leaves Karen when he first meets her recoiling on the ground from a vampire bite. He only helps her because he gets reminded of his mother being turned into one of the creatures, so even though he could help… he wasn’t going to. This is the only truly interesting dynamic about Blade and it isn’t played out all that much, mostly he feeds off of his own “badass” factor and this is perfectly sufficient for the film.

Vampires are portrayed almost realistically, or at least the film wants us to think that. The point is made that you can’t kill vampires with wooden stakes because it “isn’t like the movies” (perhaps an interesting piece of meta-fiction there, though I refuse to give “Blade” the benefit of the doubt) and many big words are used to describe vampirism itself. Ever wondered why vampires need human blood? If I recall, it’s because they can’t produce their own haemoglobin in their red blood cells. I like the idea of making these monsters relevant to scientific explanation – as bizarre as it is.

The so called “science” doesn’t quite meld with the tone of the film though. Over the top action scenes are wonderful but ultimately ridiculous. One scene that bugged me was when Blade has the option of shooting Deacon but he has a little girl hostage. It’s a typical will-he-won’t-he situation but it works because as I’ve said Blade cares more about killing vampires than saving humans. When the child is thrown 20 meters through the air by a vampire that can dodge bullets through a glass stand into the road to only just be saved by Blade, not a single scratch on the girl sort of cheapens the whole situation.

“Blade” doesn’t bog itself down in side plots and the relationship between Blade and (that lady gal) isn’t really explored. The final segment of the film is thrilling though, even though the final boss of sorts isn’t quite as impressive as I expected. I won’t say whether they successfully resurrect La Magra or not, but visually the enemy is disappointing for reasons I won’t spoil. The actual fight itself? Just adrenaline fuelled entertainment, and that’s what Blade is from head to toe.

7/10

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