Reviewed by Dan Lybarger

September 1, 1998

Fighting vampires is a lot tougher than the legends would have one believe. Crosses donít stop them and calling the cops or other authority figures doesnít help because the undead have bribed and infiltrated the governments of several countries.

Fortunately, they are easy prey for Blade (Wesley Snipes). Blade can take out hundreds of bloodsuckers in a few minutes because he has a unique advantageóheís one of them. Aided by a unique series of weapons (which include a can of "vampire mace"), he can punch, stab and shoot his way through the meanest of suckheads. Eager for revenge because vampires killed his mother and left him with a craving for hemoglobin, Blade would like to become more than human. Unfortunately, he needs all of his vampire strength to defeat the renegade bloodsucker Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff). Frost is on a Nazi-like quest to subjugate all of humanity and wants to make Blade an ally.

The storyline, credited to David S. Goyer, isnít terribly deft or original, but sometimes casting the right actor can make the difference. Snipes is a joy to behold because he doesnít merely accept the silliness of the material. He embraces it. Sporting a goofy leather outfit, Snipes looks like heís having the time of his life. By keeping his tongue firmly in his cheek, Snipes gives the film a contagious sense of fun.

The supporting cast is surprisingly good for such a special effects-heavy film. The chameleon-like Dorff (heís played everything from ex-Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe to legendary drag queen Candy Darling) doesnít look all that intimidating, but he projects unnerving persistence that makes him a solid villain. NíBushe Wright is decent as the token female. She doesnít get to kick much vampire butt, but her characterís medical skills do prove useful (it sure is convenient that sheís a hematologist). The real delight, though, is Kris Kristofferson as Bladeís aging mentor. Like Snipes, he avoids taking things too seriously and gives his role an unexpected poignancy.

Director Stephen Norrington, a former special effects guru, has a so-so eye for exposition. For example, the conclusion is a tad confusing. In his favor, he creates a wonderfully creepy atmosphere. Yes, Blade (which is based on an obscure Marvel comic) has the same gloomy dark shadows as Batman and The Crow, but it works. The scuffles are a delightful combination of digital effects and Hong Kong-style hand to hand combat.

Those who long for subtlety and more to sink their teeth into than blood and severed body parts should avoid Blade like a malignant disease. Still, Norrington and Snipes donít offer much that hasnít been seen before, but at least they know what to rip-off ( R ). Rating: 6.




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This page was last updated on 09/01/98.
Ó 1998 Dan Lybarger



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