“One man still has the edge”
Directed by Guillermo del Toro (I shit ye not)
Starring Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson and Ron Perlman
Two years after the events of the first Blade, the titular Daywalker (Snipes) pursues his relentless crusade against the vampires. He has a new weaponsmith, but seeks for his original mentor Whistler (Kristofferson), retconned into a partly-vampirised captive. Soon, however, a new enemy threatens humans and vampires alike.
Blade II takes the not-terribly-threatening vampires of the original movie and ups the game with the Reapers, a new breed of vampires created by a mutation of the vampire pathogen and equipped with a vertically-opening maw and deadly tonguetacle. The leader of the vampire nation, Damaskinos, invites Blade by ninjagram to help hunt down ‘patient zero’ Jared Nomak (Luke Goss,) before all the world is neck-deep in Reapers.
What’s wrong with it?
In the original film, Whistler clearly died. Clearly. His return in this one is laughable.
In Blade, Snipes could fight, but not act. He still can’t act in this one, but time has taken its toll and his fighting is slower and stiffer as well. They could have worked with this, especially as it is noted that Blade does age, but instead they try to pretend it’s business as usual. It’s especially glaring when Snipes morphs into a CGI Blade for a particularly quick sequence.
The integration of CGI into the fight scenes was probably groundbreaking, but even at the time looked more like a really good fighting game than a live action movie.
The elite ‘Bloodpack’… Well, take a look.
Left to right we have idiot goon Chupa, shoehorned love interest Nyssa (Leonor Varela), honourable badass Asad (Danny John-Jules), largely pointless redhead Verlaine, angry Nazi Reinhart (Perlman) and silent badass Snowman, played by the fight choreographer Donnie Yen. Missing from the picture is the tattooed giant ‘Lighthammer’ and disposable Irish vampire Preacher, and honestly this one makes them look way more professional than they are.
Chupa’s contribution to the hunt is mostly to shoot repeatedly at things he has just been told can’t be harmed by bullets or beat on Whistler mid-hunt because… fuck knows. Preacher and Lighthammer basically only manage to get infected by the reapers and die. Verlaine is a complete burden they apparently let hang around because she’s doing Lighthammer (although she does manage to sacrifice herself to take him out after he’s infected) and Snowman is there to get Yen on screen. Briefly.
Asad is almost a character, but really the only ones who feature are Nyssa as the sympathetic vampire and Reinhart as a horrible Nazi who is basically there to make sure we don’t get to like vampires too much.
The new weapons for the film include UV bombs that release a wave of light that can be seen approaching as a rippling wave. The fuck.
There is almost no-one in this film who doesn’t at some point do something really stupid.
Oh, and apparently Blade’s blood is key to everything. You’d think it would be more practical just to break into a maternity ward and start biting.
What’s right with it?
The film has some great visuals. Even a story this mental can’t take away from del Toro’s visual flair.
Kristofferson and Perlman are good value, and some of the supporting cast – Goss, John-Jules – are pretty good.
The expanding death maws of the Reapers are creepy as shit.
How bad is it really?
As much as I love del Toro’s work, and dumb action horror, this is a tooth-grindingly poor effort. The combination of moody visuals and big dumb techno action could have been a perfect storm, but it just doesn’t quite click. Perhaps it’s Snipes, or the not-quite-there-in-English Eastern European supporting players. Perhaps its the fact that the effects to do what they’re trying to do were still a few years in the future.
Best bit (if such there is)?
- The look of the thing, in general, is the best bit of the film.
What’s up with…?
- The head bomb? Knowing that his weaponsmith has rolled on him, Blade switches the dud bomb for a real one… and then detonates it when the technician (not a threat) is holding it, rather than when it’s in the back of Reinhart’s head.
- Slow light?
- The plethora of Christ imagery in Blade’s crucifixion and ‘resurrection’?
Production values – Everything practical is amazing, but the CGI is weird and jarring, leaping out and knocking you into the uncanny valley every so often. 12
Dialogue and performances – Another mixed bag. There is some talented support, but Snipes and Varela in particular are a poor hook for the emotional core of a movie. 14
Plot and execution – The plot is pretty basic, but falls apart under any examination. How did Nomak break out? Why are the Bloodpack so hopeless? Why doesn’t Blade take out Reinhart when he has the chance if he knows he’s being played? 15
Randomness – There’s a character in this, Verlaine, who is basically there to give a role to Traci Lords, who had a minor role in the first film. In the end, she didn’t take up the role, but it’s still in there, doing next to nothing. You can see why Lords might not have wanted it. Other than that, it’s pretty consistent. 7
Waste of potential – Guillermo del Toro. Guillermo de Toro, man! Directing a vampire movie. 14