My god, this movie is so 90s.
Blade (1998) is a comic-book action/horror movie directed by Stephen Norrington and written by David S. Goyer. It stars Wesley Snipes as the titular ‘Daywalker’, Blade, a half-vampire half-human hybrid who, along with his mentor Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) and random passer-by Karen (N’Bushe Wright), must stop the villainous Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) from resurrecting an evil vampire god.
The story presents a mildly interesting world where vampires are living hidden amongst humans and yet hidden from the world. Sadly, the main story is nowhere near as interesting. Its the typical prophecy plot done a million times over and while the odd plot twist and subplot keep it from being mind-numbingly cliché its still blander than Wesley Snipes’ ’emotional’ expressions.
And that’s saying something. While he looks the part, his performance is incredibly stilted and cheesy as Blade. But the weird thing is, for the most part it works. Sure his blank expressions ruins a number of emotional scenes but his overall cheesy delivery and bland badass demeanour fits with the tonality of the film surprisingly well. The rest of the cast is a bit hit and miss as well. Kris Kristofferson does a fine performance as Whistler, a character who’s the stereotypical mentor figure crossed with an old biker. Wright is about the same as Karen, even though she’s more of a stand-in for the audience when she begins to explore this fantastical world. Even so, I give the movie props for not immediately turning her into a love interest for Blade – while there’s chemistry there she acts more like a capable team player which is a nice twist on the stereotype she would play in most other comic book movies. The real miss though is Deacon Frost. This guy was a bad Marvel villain 10 years before it was cool – he’s not cheesy enough to be entertaining, or threatening enough to actually be a good villain. He just wastes screen time as the audience impatiently taps their feet waiting for the next action scene.
And the action is arguably the best part of the film. While the whole presentation is incredibly 90s with lots of slow-mo, fast cutting and techno tracks (honestly, I was blown away when I realised this came out before The Matrix) it just works and ends up being bloody ridiculous fun. The last act in particular is balls-to-the-walls crazy. While boasting a few moments of horribly dated CG (ah the 90s) the end is the pinnacle of what Blade tries to be – a highly stylised slightly ridiculous vampire/action fest. And if that’s what you enjoy, this will deliver it in ample dosage.
So its script may bore, the villain might suck (pun intended) and it may be ridiculous, but to the right crowd this will be a slick and mildly entertaining action film. But it does make me glad how far comic book films have come in the last 10-15 years.
General Audiences: Recommended
Film Buffs: Meh
True Believers (Blade): Highly Recommended