November 12, 2009

Blood - The Last Vampire

Blood: The Last Vampire sets its sights on logic and restraint and promptly obliterate them with stupidity and bombast. I mean that in the best possible way. There is no way that the creative team looked at this movie and thought they were making anything good. Then again, it is possible that director Chris Nahon recognized fairly early on what type of movie this was and decided to infuse it with as much craziness as he could. That is likely to be the reason for the way this movie is the way that it is. It fits squarely within the definition of "guilty pleasure." This is the kind of movie you put on for a diversion, something to take you on a wild wide. If you like schoolgirls with samurai swords and gangs of bloodsuckers with the barest of background information, this is it

Based on an anime released back in 2000, Blood: The Last Vampire tells the story of a centuries old half-vampire who works with a mysterious Council to kill demons that have infested Japan. This particular part of her tale finds her embedded on an American military base that has shown a high amount of demon activity. Our hero, Saya (Gianna), poses as a student to gain access to the base and before you know it, she is saving the General's daughter, Alice (Allison Miller), killing demon students and roaming the streets looking for more.


Now, while the mysterious Council is dead set on stopping the demon menace, Saya has a smaller, more focused goal. Saya wants to kill the head demon, Onigen (Koyuki). To that end, she will not let anything get in her way. Along this path we see flashbacks to Saya's childhood, her training and the important events that led her to be in this position. However, they are mere speed bumps on the very linear path the story takes.

There scenes whose presence is purely for exposition. We are told some back story about Onigen, the demons, and Saya. What we do not get are the smaller details that bring everything together. Now, if the movie had taken itself seriously, this would be an issue. Fortunately, this is the kind of movie that strings together a thin plot as a means to get us from one action set piece to the next.

Blood: The Last Vampire is not about the epic tale of the eternal fight Saya wages on the demons. It is not about the origins of the Council or what their ulterior movies may be. All it is about are stylish, low-budget action sequences and the semblance of a big story.


It makes no bones about what it is. It has modest aspirations when it comes to actual quality. However, if all you want is a blast of action that is sure to make you smile, it fits the bill rather nicely. I sat there loving every sword-swinging moment.

The actors all perform their lines with utter seriousness. You would expect them to be delivered with perhaps a hint of irony, considering the film they are in. Oh no, this is all deadly serious and it only adds to the fun. Just watch Gianna strike a pose, or Allison Miller flash some seriously crazy eyes, or Liam Cunningham (as Councilman Michael) offer sincere words of encouragement. Even better, we get Yasuaki Kurata as Kato, an elderly martial arts master who raised Saya after the death of her parents always with intelligent words for his young student. You cannot rightfully have a movie like this without an elderly master, right

Now, with character and story aside, all you really need to focus on is the action. It is fun, wild, creative at moments, and pretty much non-stop. Besides the constant flashes of swordplay, be on the lookout for CG blood. Every swing of the blade, hammer blow, or whatever other weapons are handy, is accompanied with a splash of incredibly fake blood. At first I was annoyed by how much it stood out, but then I found it to be endearing. The fights are a blast, particularly the one where Saya is protecting Alice in the alley against the never ending gang of demons. Fun stuff.

Director Chris Nahon (Kiss of the Dragon) knows his way around action movies and while he cannot be called a visionary, he always makes sure not to be boring. To that end, he has enlisted the help of veteran action director Corey Yuen (Transporter) to handle the choreography. Together they make a fun action film that is memorable for its overall absurdity.


Audio/Video. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and looks pretty good. It is not exactly the sharpest looking film and a lot of it is rather dark, but it still contains a good amount of detail an does not exhibit and digital artifacts or other noticeable flaws. Even during the fast paces action sequences, I may have lost character orientation but I did feel I lost any detail.

The audio track is Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds pretty good. The surrounds are not overly active, but successfully draw you in, particularly during the fight sequences. The dialogue is centered and always clear. Overall, it is a good track that does its job without necessarily distinguishing itself.

  • The Making of Blood: The Last Vampire. This featurette runs just over nineteen-minutes and includes a decent amount of interview and behind the scenes footage.
  • Battling Demons: Behind the Stunts. Nearly seventeen-minutes are devoted to the stunts. Why not? The stunts and action are a big part of the film, there certainly is enough of it here! Mixed with some interview footage, we get on the set and training footage for both martial arts and wire work.
  • Previews. Trailers are included for the Blood+, Dark Country, Hardwired, Moon, Blu-ray Disc, District 9, Assassination of a High School President, The Informers, The Sky Crawlers, REC, Messengers 2: The Scarecrow, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Resident Evil: Degeneration, Rise: Blood Hunter, and

Bottomline. This is a fun movie, no question about it. Is it a good movie? That is a highly debatable fact. It is more about what you want out of it. Not every movie is made for greatness, some are made just to be fun. This is one of those movies. There is certainly enough to flesh out into something bigger, but I found myself not caring. I just wanted a little fun.


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