Thursday, September 16, 2010

Blood: The Last Vampire (2009)

I have never been a big fan of the cross-pollination of media. If something started off as a cartoon then dammit, it should stay a cartoon and I have all of the live-action Flinstones films, Underdog, Mr. Magoo, and The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle to support my irrational belief.

That being said, I really can't hate totally on Chris Nahon's Blood: The Last Vampire because it was derived from Hiroyuki Kitakubo's 2000 animated film that was long on visuals yet short on story and character development.

A house not built on a firm foundation will fall and all that sort of thing, but there are more serious issues with this live-action adaptation than the source material.

Like the anime, Blood: The Last Vampire is set in Vietnam War-era Japan and follows the activities of the half-vampire ass kicker, Saya (Gianna Jun), as she tracks down the remnants of a race of shape-shifting demons in the hopes of securing a showdown with their leader, Onigen (Koyuki).

The live-action adaptation deviates from the anime by replacing the hysterical and irritating overweight nurse sidekick with Alice McKee (Allison Miller), the level headed teen-aged daughter of General McKee (Larry Lamb), the commanding officer of Yokota Air Force Base who is murdered by members of The Council; the mysterious organization working with Saya to prevent a demonic invasion of earth.

A more apt title for this movie would be Blood: The Gianna Jun Experience as the film primarily showcases Gianna's looks and physicality at the expense of giving veteran actors Koyuki and Colin Salmon anything meaningful to do.

I'm not sure if they got paid by the hour and the money well ran dry but if you blink at the wrong times, you will miss Salmon's brief diatribe on why demons hate humans or the really anti-climactic final brawl between Saya and Onigen.

If money was saved on the pay-per-appearance budget, it certainly wasn't spent on the CGI as Blood: The Last Vampire features some of the worst computer generated effects in the history of cinema. We're talking Scorpion King at the end of The Mummy Returns or Brontosaurus stampede in Peter Jackson's King Kong levels of awfulness. The effects are so bad they if you are not careful, they will absolutely kill your ability to watch another frame of the film.

You might even swear that the CGI was actually claymation until you watched Clash of the Titans, witnessed a master at work, and suddenly felt the urge to write Ray Harryhausen an apology letter for ever making such an insulting comparison.

Couple that with the overstylized wire-fu fight scenes and the task of watching this feature through to completion suddenly becomes an exercise in endurance.

The otaku that love the Blood anime will invariably love this movie also and will be much more accepting than I ever could be.

It is an engaging enough tale with ample action and a short enough runtime not to send a casual viewer into a raging fit and to be honest, you are better off watching this than one of the Flintstones movies.

If you must track down a cartoon / live-action crossover, go find Popeye or Josie & The Pussycats.

If it has to be anime / live-action, then revel in the forgivable campiness of Speed Racer.

No comments: