CGI Blood : The Last Vestige of Credibility Just Left Town
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Blood: The Last Vampire (2009)
5th Aug 09
Chosen one, blah blah, eternal battle against evil, blah, blah, the death of originality, blah blah… did anyone involved in this production actually think the FX looked even remotely acceptable?!
Here’s a live-action adaptation of a cult 2000 manga short, Blood: The Last Vampire … though the phrase “live action” is used loosely given that watching the movie carries all the excitement value of watching someone you don’t like playing a video game you would only be interested in playing if you simultaneously found yourself without limbs or a functioning wanking hand. This is an uneasy patchwork of influences, with characters, monsters and story elements swiped from Blade, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Matrix (wire-fu : zzzzz), Kill Bill and the Resident Evil movies. Sadly, it’s quality and engagement levels are on a par with the worst aspects of the above: remember how much fun you DIDN’T have while watching Resident Evil Apocalypse or The Matrix Revolutions?!
The po-faced opening crawl offers the usual kind of guff found at the outset of movies like this: an ongoing battle between the chosen one and the ultimate evil, you know the drill. In this case, sullen Japanese schoolgirl Saya (Gianna Jun), half vampire, half human, is recruited by the mysterious “Council” to kill demons that have taken human form. She takes up residence at a military school as part of her long-term mission to kill an uber-demon named Onigen that killed her flashback-dwelling wise old dad.
Saya also has a mentor named Kato who, sadly, isn’t the guy from the old Pink Panther movies. If Bert Kwouk was playing this role and - let’s say, just for the sake of a diverting distraction - Herbert Lom turned up with a twitchy eye, we would have been at least 74.3% more charitable toward the production. Also, if Dyanne Thorne showed up to whip the exposed genitals of a reanimated David Niven while kneeling naked on broken glass and going down on Lina Ronay, we might even have raised the “recommend” status to “Mow down the handicapped to get hold of a copy!”. If only.
The first peculiar, off-putting thing about Blood is its backdrop. It’s largely set in and around an American air-base in 1970’s Tokyo, but few will be convinced by the token gestures (couple of weird haircuts, some over-sized spectacles) made to try and convey the period. Mostly the film seems to unfold in an indefinable never-land, thanks to its origins as an international co-production. This means a weird array of accents and performances, including Brits like Liam Cunningham (who must have done something really shitty in a past life to get roles in this and The Mummy Tomb of the Dragon Emperor) and Colin Salmon doing odd transatlantic accents, Frenchmen pretending to be American and even a cameo from Larry Lamb!
The flick is busy, with regular bursts of violent action and exuberant martial arts choreography by Cory Yuen. But we’ve seen it all before, done better. The dialogue is all portentous, comic-book level shtick, and the lack of humour is reflected by the absence of anyone with a personality, including the one-note heroine. Even at this length, the absence of anyone to root for and care about helps make the movie fairly interminable.
The worst crime, by far, however, is the deluge of awful, cartoonish, CGI that brings down the whole film. With some good old fashioned make up effects, this could have been a fun brainless splatter fest. Here, however, all the blood is the dire computer generated sort - it’s rarely even red, and when characters are sliced open, they produce geysers of what look like (and might as well be) animated coffee beans. None of it looks even remotely real, there’s no sense of danger or horror and one low-point is a ropey CG monster that looks so useless and lame even the creatures from I Am Legend would join forces to take the piss out of it.
1st Nov 04 Above all though, it is the relationship between John and Laura Baxter which is the film’s central focus throughout, and the gradual disintegration of their relationship amidst a haze of grief.