A bloody mess of a movie ~ That Movie Blogger Fella

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A bloody mess of a movie

Blood: The Last Vampire
My rating:

I didn't watch the anime film that Blood: The Last Vampire is based on, but I have to wonder if the title makes any more sense there than it does here. There is no vampire named Blood, nor is there one who is the last of anything. Unless there's something the movie forgot to tell us, which, incidentally, it's very good at.

Also, I refuse to call Jeon Ji-hyun "Gianna". It's a stupid name.

Saya (Jeon Ji-hyun) is a 400-year-old half-breed vampire employed by the mysterious Council to kill demons and vampires wherever they may lurk. Her latest assignment is to go undercover as a high school student at an American air force base in Tokyo, where minions of the vampire queen Onigen (Koyuki) are massing. There she befriends Alice (Allison Miller), the rebellious daughter of the base's general, and remembers her childhood tutelage under her father's retainer Kato (Yasuaki Kurata). And soon, she begins to arouse the interest of Onigen herself.

Wow, that synopsis really makes the film sound better than it is. It fails in many of its most crucial aspects - the action scenes are edited to incoherency, the CGI effects are laughable, and the plot is annoyingly obtuse. Here's an example of how shoddy the storytelling is: in one of the numerous flashbacks to Saya's youth, we see her romance with a childhood friend... and then later we're told she murdered him in vampiric bloodlust. But we never see this murder. We don't even see the body. And we're expected to empathize with her conflict between her human and vampiric sides? Aiyoo, movie, what lar??

I don't know who Chris Nahon is, but if this is any indication he's a pretty crap director. He has no sense of how to frame an action scene, so that many times we can barely make out what's going on. Not that there's ever much going on; there's hardly any effort put into the fight choreography. Saya slashes her way through hundreds of vampires with her samurai sword, and it's all just kinda boring. Cory Yuen is a respected martial arts choreographer from the golden age of Hong Kong films, but here he really isn't trying at all. The final fight scene is especially unsatisfying.

Jeon is... well, she's not too bad actually. She's hampered by having to deliver English dialogue which she's clearly not comfortable with, but at least her diction isn't as bad as Koyuki's. (Why couldn't they have spoken in Japanese during those scenes?) She's an experienced Korean drama actress, and she handles her dramatic scenes competently - but as a sword-wielding badass? Well, if she trained for her action scenes, it sure doesn't show. Allison Miller's acting doesn't impress, but it's not so much her performance as the fact that her character is basically useless. Koyuki does her best to play chillingly evil, but she looks about as scary as a schoolteacher. I haven't even mentioned the two faux-CIA agents who work for Saya's employers (Liam Cunningham and J.J. Field) - they could've been edited out of the movie and no one would've noticed.

I think what really sinks this movie is the fact that they failed to recognize the inherent cheesiness of the premise. A Japanese schoolgirl killing vampires with a samurai sword? That sounds like fun! Instead they tried to go all serious and gloomy and emo, and had neither the skill nor the budget to pull off their vision. Nobody who looks at this movie will expect anything more than a few good thrills, but it doesn't even deliver those. It is very much a B-grade film in all aspects.

NEXT REVIEW: Departures
Anticipation level: it'll be good to see Japanese actors speaking Japanese for a change