Sunday, October 18, 2009

October Horror-thon #18: "Blood: The Last Vampire" (2009)

Legend tells of demons who've taken on human form to walk among us mortals. As their diet consists primarily of innocent blood, a society has been established to cut these creatures down whenever they get out of order. Saya (Gianna) is among their finest warriors, a girl of supernatural lineage who has a bone to pick with the grand demon poobah. But vengeance shall have to wait, for there are more pressing matters at hand. After a strange string of murders at a U.S. Air Force base in Japan, Saya goes undercover as a student to see what's up. But her first class has hardly ended before Saya ends up playing bodyguard to Alice (Allison Miller), the daughter of a general the demons seem to be gunning for. This gives our heroine her best shot yet at the justice she's been waiting centuries to exact, though doing so just may cost her what's left of her soul.

Japanese animation is something that live-action films can never duplicate in a million years, no matter how many studios think they can. It's to the credit of Blood: The Last Vampire that it doesn't go to the gut-bustingly awful lengths Dragonball Evolution did to ape the anime style. Based on a well-regarded work from earlier in the decade, Blood sets out as its own entity, a glitzy action flick with a little horror and a lot of panache. The trouble is that it's not terribly good at it, resulting in one surprisingly dull film. Just as the Onechanbara movie managed to make a bikini-clad babe killing zombies boring, thusly does Blood render its own premise. Saya trots around in a schoolgirl's outfit most of the time, but without any winks or nudges behind the choice, it gets to be like watching 90 minutes of pure fan service.

Blood certainly leaves itself plenty of opportunities to let loose and see how groovy it can get with the action sequences. But just as the film is trying to draw you into its own private world, something happens that'll have you bolting to reality. The effects are really terrible (with blood geysers that resemble grape jelly), the actors apparently graduated from Lee Strasberg's remedial class, and the plot just seems to be out for lunch. There isn't so much a story as there is an hour or so of seeing the film jump between subplots before abruptly cutting to a climax. Also, this tale's definition of a "vampire" is something I just can't put my finger on. Saya guzzles bottles of blood and is even called a vampire by the freakin' title, yet she turns out to have more in common with the demons than anything else; if reinvention's on your agenda, it helps if people know what in the hell you're reinventing.

Then again, Blood: The Last Vampire is still a more satisfying, vamp-centric experience than Twilight can imagine being. Look past the atrocious CG and ADD-afflicted story, then chances are you'll find a few good thrills here. If anything, Blood has me interested in checking the original anime out, though ultimately, the Internet is awash with even better chances to fulfill one's "kickass Asian heroine" fix.

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