SCUD: Lock up your daughters, boys and girls, the Dark Knight returns.
I must admit that I am not too familiar with the Blade comics. I like the movie Blade. I particularly like Blade II. And I will even admit to liking Blade: Trinity, despite its problems (its many, many, many, many problems). What I am not sure about, though, is whether or not I gain or lose geek cred for liking the movies — are they worthy, reputable movies that are true (or true enough) to the original comics, or are they, at most, guilty pleasures? Whatever the case, when it comes to the movies, the second is by far the best, and I come before you all today to tell you why.
The plot is a fairly standard action sequel plot. Our hero Blade (Wesley Snipes) and his own personal Q-branch Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) and Scud (The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus) must join forces with their enemies — a vampire squad known as the Bloodpack specifically put together to take on Blade himself — in order to stop a new menace that threatens them all, a type of mutated vampire known as Reapers. As the movie progresses, loyalties are questioned, revelations are made, a romance between the two sides is hinted at — it’s all here. Not the most original of plots, no, but it still provides a solid foundation for the movie. So what makes Blade II stand out and in many ways above others? Follow me to paragraph 3 to find out.
Guillermo del Toro. That’s probably enough explanation right there (and would make my job much easier to leave it at just that, but I can already sense the glare from my editor), but to expand on that, the man just has a great sense of style and vision. The movie feels like a comic book, but without being cheesy, and it has the right tone for a movie about a Vampire Hunter. The imagination that is showcased in his later movies — Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy movies (also starring Ron Perlman) — is prevalent here, particularly during the entire sequence at the House of Pain.
And the action. A comic book movie about a half-vampire killing vampires (and mutated vampires) wouldn’t be worth much if the action scenes weren’t up to scratch, and this movie definitely holds up its end. With fight scenes choreographed by the excellent Donnie Yen (who US fans may know as one of the two leads from Iron Monkey, or as Sky from Jet Li’s Hero), and more of a focus on action than story, this movie surpasses its predecessor on the ass-kicking front, which, for this type of movie, pretty much means it surpasses its predecessor in general.
Going along with the action is the R-rating (here in the States, at least), which is somewhat rare in comic book movies, generally speaking. There is a lot of blood, a lot of gore, a lot of violence, and all of it is both warranted and necessary. Good choice for the producers to not try for a lower rating.
But this isn’t to say that the movie is perfect, by any means. The plot explanation as to why Whistler, killed in the last movie, is still alive is quite contrived (he says, oddly not in an attempt to rhyme); the computer graphics aren’t quite up to par (watching it now, at least — the transition between live person and CG superhuman is not as smooth as it should be); many of the supposedly exceptional fighters of the Bloodpack are killed too easily (how do you kill off Donnie Yen that easily?! It’s Donnie Yen!); and the final confrontation between Blade and Reinhardt (Ron Perlman) was, though somewhat amusing, ultimately unsatisfying considering the buildup throughout the entire movie.
Despite the flaws, though, this movie does, indeed, combine the right style with a decent plot and plenty of action to take the crown of the Blade movies, and is quite possibly in the top of the echelon of R-rated comic book movies, alongside Watchmen, Sin City and Deadpool.
Not bad for a sequel.
Blade II (2002)
Based on characters by Marv Wolfman
Written by: David S. Goyer | Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman