|Dir:||Guillermo del Toro|
|Star:||Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman, Leonor Varela, Luke Goss|
|Cert / Year:||18 - R / 2002|
Several years after the events of Blade. Blade (Wesley Snipes) has managed to track down and rescue his old friend and mentor, Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) from the clutches of the vampire nation. Soon after, two vampire emissaries find Blade and offer him a "truce" in order to meet with their leader. It seems that a new breed of "super vampires" have evolved/mutated known as "Reapers". The Reapers are led by Nomak (Luke Goss) and their insatiable appetite means they feed on vampire and human alike and are rapidly becoming a menace to the vampire nation whose ranks are slowly dwindling thanks to the constant pursuit by Blade and now the Reapers whose own ranks are now increasing. With the threat of a common enemy of the Reapers, Blade tentatively enters into a temporary "alliance" with the vampires to hunt and destroy Nomak and his bretheren before they can infect any more victims. Assisting Blade on his new "quest" is a small team of specially trained vampire soldiers known as "The Blood Pack" who were formed and trained for the specific purpose of killing Blade who is now their leader by order of their "Overlord" Eli Damaskinos, much to the disgust of their former leader Rheinhardt (Ron Perlman). As Blade and the Blood Pack assisted by Damaskinos' daughter Nyssa (Leonor Varela) get closer to Nomak and the Reapers, the true horror of their mutation becomes apparent as does a shocking discovery....
If you liked Blade then you will like this. Like the original this is a full on explosive tour de force of adrenaline fuelled kinetic action and stunning fight choreography. In many respects this film manages to leave it's predeccessor standing. The fight choreography courtesy of Donnie Yen is both stunning and very impressive. Most of the CGI used is to good effect and thoughtfully used but a couple of shots are entirely and quite blatantly CGI which can overshadow one or two otherwise superb scenes. The martial arts is very stylishly done with some superb photography that has a distinctly anime feel, especially during the terrific finale.
The direction of Guillermo del Toro is both impressive and stunning as he stylishly delivers a slick industrial gothic, action horror movie. Unlike it's predeccessor, Blade II is less garish and clinical in it's appearance and revels in rich vibrant colours that superbly blend and balance a generally dark and oppressively broody atmosphere to produce something stylishly exciting. The overrall production design offers some unlikely contrasts which surprisingly work and look stunning adding to the depths attained by the film in terms of cinematography and direction even if they are occasionally reminiscent of Mimic. del Toro has virtually brought a comic book to the screen. The way some scenes are framed, lit and shot are right out of a comic not to mention some of the character posturing. The overrall feel is awesome and well put together. Well suited to del Toro's typically over aesthetic style which this time around proves to be an enthralling visual assault.
Blade worked well and despite the latter silliness concerning "La Magra" or the "Blood God" it kicked butt even with it's hip vampires led by Stephen Dorff. This time one of the bad guys actually resembles a gnarly old vampire whereas the Reapers are certainly something new and quite freakily disturbing, no wonder the vampires are scared. Right from the start Blade II hits the throttle and starts as it means to go on.......at full tilt. Fantastic shoot-outs, explosions, vampires burning up and blowing up, gory mayhem, amazing combat and gadgets galore. The new improved "Glaive" is very cool as is most of Blade's new arsenal which incidentally is so slick and cool it would make James Bond go green with envy.
Wesley Snipes returns to reprise his role of Blade. It is very much HIS role to be honest as thanks to him, the character of Blade has evolved somewhat from the generally staid comic fasade into a lively and glib remark spouting Shaft like persona (You'll be pleased to know that there are NO quips about "ice skating uphill" this time around). Snipes breathed life into an older and lesser comic character, showcasing his talent in martial arts and his penchant for action, but still bringing something unique to animate his role and give the audience another anti-hero to cheer for. The superb interaction between him and Kris Kristofferson who has returned as Blade's gruff and grumpy friend and mentor, Whistler is always worth watching. Speaking of former singers turned actors, former "Bros" member Luke Goss is surprisingly rather good and fills the pivotal role of Nomak very well providing some very cool fight scenes and some creepy and horrific moments. Thomas Kretschmann (Stalingrad ) is both insidious and evil as Overlord Eli Damaskinos and despite the prosthetics he manages to provide an weighty and expressive performance. Leonor Varela looks rather nice but her acting ability is questionable. Danny John Jules better known as "Cat" from cult tv series Red Dwarf provides a worthy vampire performance as does Hong Kong movie star Donnie Yen . It is a shame that such an accomplished martial artist and actor like him is used so little in the film although being fair he is the fight choreographer. Ron Perlman stars as Reinhardt the leader of the "Blood Pack" and manages to portray his usual "Ron Perlman" character despite it being a vampire this time around. The chain smoking, smart mouthed dopehead "Scud" played by Norman Reedus is damned irritating and is out of place here, and would be better suited in a "Jay & Silent Bob" movie.
Compared to the original, this is a better film in many respects. Visually this is far superior and the story offers a more rounded set of characters which will undoubtibly make this a must for existing fans. The dubious decision to add a "romantic" aspect to the story although technically being a bad one has been carefully and minimally worked in so as not to interfere with the action or the horror. That said, the unlikely ending was both a brave step and a dramatic way to finish which I found quite poigniant and captivating.
Can you blush?
Blade II is certainly a fun filled action feast. The opening fight is brilliant, the exploding vampires superb, and cinematography excellent. So why do I have reservations about his film? Well its that most popular of Hollywood failings, the over use of CGI.
When it comes to the vampire deaths the CGI is great, but when it is used to replace the normal actors during the fights we are left watching nothing more than a computer game. Unfortunately after the opening scenes occasionally the fights do tend to degenerate into a CGI filled mess.
Additionally you can't help get the feeling that yet again this film is trying to be, or maybe out do, The Matrix. Ever since that classic film it appears that the remit in Hollywood is that all action films have to copy it, or try to better it. Stop it. Like The Matrix, innovate don't duplicate.
These faults are a shame as apart from them Blade II is a much better film than the original. The story is great (although it doesn't really start until halfway through the film), the action is explosive, and the direction is superb. Yes there are other faults, giving the odd unintentional laugh, but like most films in the genre they can be overlooked. If they had kept the action a little more real (like the original) you would have had a classic. Instead you have a really good piece of high adrenaline entertainment.
|Dolby Digital 5.1||Fantastic sound|
|The Main Feature|
|Audio commentary by director Guillermo del Toro and producer Peter Frankfurt|
|Excellent audio commentary by writer David Goyer and star Wesley Snipes|
|Isolated 5.1 score|
|Series of deleted and alternate scenes with or without audio commentary|
|"A Pact in Blood". collection of interactive documentaries including the excellent "Blood Pact - Making of Blade 2" behind the scenes documentary|
|Art gallery featuring pre-production sketches|
|Cypress Hill & Roni Size music video - "Child of the wild west"|
|Blade 2 video game "survival guide"|
|Excellent 2 disc set. Very impressive collection of extra features with plenty to keep you occupied. Additional DVD ROM features are also included on Disc 2.|