Blade II (2002)

“Is the enemy of my enemy my friend or my enemy?”

Justin’s Rating: Fat guy in a little coat

Justin’s Review: Although I’ve made my position on vampires perfectly clear (namely, that they’re an overused and overloved geek of a monster), there is always one thing about them that’s pretty cool: how they die. Most of your average monsters do the collapse-and-twitch thing, with your zombie parts twitching more than most. But vampires aren’t the ones who go quietly into that dark night; they like to pitch a hissy fit before their final demise.

As time’s gone on, we’ve seen an improvement in vampire deaths, from the old shrivel-and-eventually-turn-to-dust Dracula staple to the burning-alive motif to the pretty darn cool Buffy special effect of vampires turning into dust and skeleton figures and then exploding. Well, Blade II does all of those one better. Now, vampires have a built-in microwave that cooks them from the inside out, eventually causing their bodies to erupt in a fountain of red-hot sparks and fiery chunks.

Reminded me a lot of how I like to cook my marshmallows, actually.

Buffy fans probably hate being associated anywhere near Blade fans, and I’m sure the feeling’s mutual. Yet it’s impossible to comment on Blade without noting its similarities to the female Slayer; both are super-strong, fight bloodsuckers non-stop, and face their own inner darkness while confronting evil outside. The differences are many — so both you vamp camps simmer down — as Buffy definitely skews more to the soul-searching, drawing parallels to normal life, and Blade is all about kicking butt and little else.

A good idea, if you’re doing an action movie, is to start with a little action. You don’t have to, of course, but most of your audience isn’t going to be able to understand compound sentences anyway, so you might as well get to the guns-and-blammo. I kid, lovers of action movies! I’m just doing a little self bet to see if I can tick off the most fans from one movie review. Anyway, Blade II starts out with a slam-bang action sequence that more or less continues for the rest of the movie. I like that. Less “Boo hoo I’ve got vampire blood in me” and much more “I’m wearing 120 pounds of lethal weapons and ammo that I absolutely must use before the end credits.”

After a little rescue mission (to pull his friend and mentor Whistler from the clutches of the nasty pointy folk), the half-human, half-vampire Blade receives a gentleman caller with a message of truce. It seems that there’s something even MORE geeky out in the world than vampires and leather-clad superheroes, and it’s making vittles of both sides. As the vampire world is running scared, they recruit Blade to join a team of would-be-Blade’s-assassins to hunt down the icky Reavers.

Very slick, very fast-paced and very atmospheric, Blade II takes us into places where angels fear to tread (unless, of course, they’re vampire angels, which is now a copyrighted Justin idea). As you look to your left — keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times, sir! — you’ll see a disembowling. On the right we have a particularly lovely autopsy. Don’t forget to tip your tour guide on the way out!

While Blade II is much more memorable than the first one (with that skinny kid as the big baddie), it’s also about the most gory flick you can see in quite some time. You know how different movies have different colors and textures and amounts of blood? Like how relatively non-violent flicks might use a little chocolate syrup as a less frightening “black blood” to the red dribbles that some people exhibit in movies when they’re shot (so many movie characters have some sort of magical coagulant that stops a gaping bullet wound from spilling more than a couple ounces). Blade II has a blood color that is so red that it’l make you downright crave cherry Kool-Aid.

I also would like to make a big hooplah over Ron Perlman here. He’s been in just about every action movie in the last three years, and he just nails the part of the likable scoundrel (not that I want him to get my hands dirty or anything). He just stalks around, clearly enjoying himself, unlike quite a few antagonists I can name. French giants now have their hero.

Sometimes I like to think of myself like a Napoleonic Emperor (that French thing coming back, a mere paragraph later), going around with a saber and tapping films on the shoulders for noteworthy achievements, as if I have some special right to do this. I do, actually. I found that right in a pond once, and it’s mine! So I do declare that Blade II is the best horror-action movie of 2002.

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