At last, a summer action movie that actually admits it's a comic book - albeit a very dark one.
"Blade" stars Wesley Snipes in the title role of a warrior who battles against a vast society of vampires who live in a parallel society with modern Americans. Snipes, born to a woman who was bitten by a vampire, is a half caste - he has the superhuman strength of a vampire but has human emotions.
A beautiful hematologist, Dr. Karen Jensen (N'Bushe Wright) is drawn into this world when she is bitten by a vampire Blade is pursuing. Blade takes her with him, hoping his partner, Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), can cure her before she transforms.
Meanwhile, Blade's No. 1 enemy, smart-mouthed young Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff), is making moves to become the most powerful vampire in the world. He confronts the ruling elite of the vampire world in a scene that is a clever satire of Mob movies where an aggressive young hood challenges the order of things before the ruling council.
"People are our food, not our allies," he taunts them.
What Blade does not know is that he holds the key to Frost's master plan for him and his depraved band of vampires to take over the world.
For well over an hour and a half, "Blade" strikes exactly the right tone. Director Stephen Norrington frames the movie in such a way that you can imagine exactly how the scene would be drawn in a comic book.
His direction of action scenes is consistently imaginative and the mood is mysterious and intriguing. One battle that takes place in a subway is downright breathtaking, and shows a visual style that is not quite like anything I have ever seen before.
Norrington is helped by a script by David S. Goyer that is witty and sharp, based on character created by Marv Wolfman (great name for a horror comic writer) and Gene Colon.
The acting is uniformly good. Snipes is perfectly suited to play a dark martial arts expert anti- hero, and N'Bushe Wright is a real find of Pam Grier proportions as Dr. Wright. They have a nice chemistry together. Kris Kristofferson is deadpan fun as the sidekick who looks like Jerry Garcia but acts like Rambo.
Dorff wears a little thin by the end of the movie, but that is mostly the fault of a story that goes on a bit too long. Like a lot of horror and sci-fi flicks, "Blade" is much better while we are on the road to discovery, and the grand revelation is a bit of a letdown.
Though it is not quite good to the last drop, "Blade" still has a lot of bite. This definitely a superior film within its genre. If you liked movies like "Spawn" or "The Crow," then you will probably love "Blade."
But even if dark, bloody (very bloody, in fact) comic adventure is not your usual fare, "Blade" is worth a look if the mood strikes.