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Blade II (R)
New Line
Official Site
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Producers: Peter Frankfurt, Wesley Snipes, Patrick Palmer
Written by: David S. Goyer; Blade character created for Marvel Comics by Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman, Leonor Varela, Norman Reedus, Donnie Yen
Rating: out of 5

Set in a small town in Mexico, this quiet, haunting ghost story displays the remarkable skills of a director in his subtlety and passion. Wait, this is the other Del Toro movie in theaters. This is his gleefully bloodthirsty, brutally fast-paced, ďOy, itís kicking my assĒ action movie. The difference could not be starker.

From the opening scenes, you can tell this wonít be Citizen Kane. When that first bucket of blood slaps against the wall, that first vampire explodes in a glorious hail of sparks, and Wesley Snipes deadpan blows a kiss at himself in a rear-view mirror, you canít help but smile. The movie is intoxicatingly fun. Filled with the sort of ebullience for violence and destruction that stems from its comic book origins, Blade II holds nothing back.† It shamelessly entertains by providing the sort of completely unrealistic violence that worries parents. More than that, the action is incredibly well crafted. Every punch and throw is clear and distinct. There are no cheap cut-aways. The camera soars to follow a character punched across the room and never flinches when the baddies open their jaws.

Of course, no comic book story is complete without badass characters. Blade II has a seemingly inexhaustible supply. Blade teams up with the Bloodpack, a crack team of vampires trained to kill him, in order to combat a new threat to both vampires and humans: Reapers. The Bloodpack is the coolest bunch of bloodsuckers to ever grace the screen including the sadly underused Donnie Yen (he is also the martial arts choreographer) and the cult icon Ron Perlman. Also returning is Whistler (yeah, I know he should be dead) played by Kris Kristofferson who snarls the best insults ever. His banter with Perlman and Bladeís younger weapon expert Scud (Reedus) is a riot. And the Reapers are the cherry on top. Part vampire, part horrendous monster, they tear apart vamps like theyíre Swiss cheese. Wait till you see one open its mouth. The shock is worth the admission alone. And of course, youíve got Blade who still has more gadgets than Bond, but now features more dry wit and less simpering compassion than he had in the first movie. In fact, the only uninteresting characters are the love interest (gag) Nyssa (Varela) and her Nosferatu father.

The plot is full of the typical double crosses but theyíre almost inconsequential next to the action of the movie. In fact, the ending has conventions the size of buses, but it matters so little that you might as well relax and focus on the complete awesomeness of the film. In particular, the graphics make impressive images. The sparks and burning flesh look authentic, and many times the CG stand-ins during action scenes are so smooth you have to be watching for them to notice. For me to say that feels weird. I find CG characters to be obviously fakeó*cough*Jar-Jar Binks*cough*. Also amazing is the art design and cinematography. The crisp beautiful ambers and sleek black costumes complement each other. And the gadgets! The guns and devices should get first billing, too.

Reportedly, Del Toro made Blade II in hopes of convincing a studio to fund his childhood dream: a live-action Hellboy movie. I hope that Blade II enjoys overwhelming success at the box office, because while Iíve never heard of Hellboy, I am desperate to see another comic book adaptation by this director. This is the best American action movie since The Matrix (Crouching Tiger and Fellowship Of The Rings donít count as action), and I will gladly fork over many to enjoy this movie with friends. Popcorn filmmaking at itís finest! Fun without an ounce of pretension.

ó Zack Schenkkan


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

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