I know this review is a tad late, but I saw the film Blade for the first time just a few weeks ago. I haven’t quite figured out why I avoided the film when it first came out last August, but apparently I didn’t particularly care of vampire movies or just wasn’t appealed by the trailer. I think I may have been into Star Wars or Star Trek at the time, or maybe I was just busy. Anyway, I didn’t see it until I rented it on video, and boy, did I make a mistake last August.

Blade comes from the same family of neo-comicbook films as Spawn, Dark City and the recent The Matrix. For a more in-depth discussion of this class of film, read my review of The Matrix; now I’m going to talk about Blade, and only Blade.

My original decision to see the film arose from my desire to buy the Blade action figure. This 6″ figure from Toy Biz has 16 points of articulation–an insane amount for a six-inch figure, let me assure you. Add to that a dead-on likeness of Wesley Snipes and an awesome pleather trenchcoat and you’ve got one of the best true action figures ever made.
Deciding to get that figure was one of the wisest decision I’ve made this year. Heaven knows when I would have finally seen the film, but I’m glad I did.

The opening scene sets the stage for the entire film [WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!]. A suspiciously enthusiastic clubber (Traci Lords) leads an unsuspecting young man into a slaughterhouse, where a bunch of twenty-somethings dance to hypnotic techno music. Of course, they’re all vampires, and pretty soon the kid is getting knocked all over the place while blood pours down from the sprinkler system. Will he die? You’d think…until he begins to crawl away and finds himself at the feet of a trenchcoat-bedecked savior.

The following action sequence, like most in the film, owes much to the classic kung-fu films of the ’70’s. But this is kung-fu in slick Hollywood style, and it’s even better that Wesley Snipes is a 5th degree black belt and actually knows his stuff. And unlike all the various Batmen, Snipes doesn’t need any special ab-enhancing armor.

I’ll be frank with you: there’s not much plot here. This is a comicbook film. A comicbook film based on a comicbook. There’s the usual archetypal characters–Snipes’s heroic Blade, his mentor Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), the unwitting bystander Karen (N’Bushe Wright), and of course the villains–here it’s upstart vampire Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) and his sidekick Jimmy the Cabdriver (just kidding)–his sidekick Quinn (Donal Logue).

Snipes does as good a job as can be expected with a character like Blade. Basically, he only needs to be able to deal out whoop-ass–and he does, in spades. Kristofferson is fine as Whistler, and Wrighte seems like a promising rookie, though she’s clearly kind of new at this. Dorff is delightfully irritating as the maniacally insecure, devilish Frost, and Logue is always a treat.

But the real meat here is the action sequences, and basically, they’re some of the best I’ve ever seen in terms of martial arts combat. Each shot is brilliant; each fight is perfectly choreographed, and moves with a pace not too fast to follow (like most of Armageddon) nor too slowly to be interesting (like The Matrix).

Blade is not a classic movie, by any stretch of the imagination. But it is one of most entertaining movies I’ve seen in ages. It easily outclasses all the Batman films in my mind (except perhaps the first), and it never drags. If you like action films, comicbooks or especially kung-fu films, run, don’t walk to your nearest video store and check out Blade.

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