IMDb Rating: 7.1/10
R | 2h 0min | Action, Horror | 12 Nov 1998 (New Zealand) |Movie
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 56% Rotten (Critic reviews) | 78% Fresh (Audience reviews)
Director: Stephen Norrington
Writer: David S. Goya
Stars: Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson
Movie Tagline: “The power of an immortal. The soul of a human. The heart of a hero“.
IMDb summary: A half-vampire, half-mortal man becomes a protector of the mortal race while slaying evil vampires.
WE ARE NOT SPOILER FREE
Blade was one of the first African-American Superheroes. Or Anti-Hero, depending on your idea of what a “superhero” is. I prefer characters like Blade, who have apparent weaknesses and flaws and don’t come across as the “knight in shining armour” even though they are fighting against “evil” and evil-doers. Blade’s appeal lies in his creation; he sees himself as a “mistake” and “less than human,”, giving him a subtle sense of vulnerability. And at the same time, he denies this same vulnerability by choosing to violently hunt down and kill all vampires in search of the one that “made him what he became.” Blade is on a mission, and it’s a bloody and violent ride. Hell, yes! We’re so in.
Many fans of popular culture tend to forget about Blade, especially since Black Panther became a huge thing a couple years ago. Not to tarnish Black Panther’s golden glow or anything, but Blade is a very different type of hero; he doesn’t come from a royal family, nor is he a leader of men. He is very much a loner doing his thing with his “kind of” sidekick Whistler who also has his own interesting backstory. Blade is in your face from the very beginning, and as a man on a mission, he is entirely unapologetic about it. So why did this film score so lowly with critics?
Before we decided to do a re-watch of Blade, we had no previous knowledge of critic reviews. I consider Blade one of my all-time favourite superhero films, and I stand by that.
The premise for Blade is super easy to follow which we have no issue with. Sometimes simplicity is all you need for a film to work. Blade portrayed by Wesley Snipes is half-human and half-vampire and the end result of a violent attack by an unknown vampire on his mother when she was pregnant with him. He understands how he became what he became, but nobody hates him more than he despises himself. To say that Blade has a chip on his shoulder is an understatement. He is looking for something he thinks he will never find, but he doesn’t let up and will do just about anything to find his mother’s killer. You can’t help but admire that devotion.
The movies’ palette is obvious from the beginning, which gives almost every scene a dark-green tinge to it. We’re not sure if that was done on purpose or not, but it brings your focus directly towards any shade of red increasing its vibrancy ten-fold. And since this movie is about vampires, there’s a whole lot of blood. Blood is also the only thing stopping Blade in his tracks. “The Thirst” is his only weakness. Like any other vampire in this movie universe, if you go without blood for too long, you end up in some kind of “zombie” stasis and extremely vulnerable. Blade can, however, withstand sunlight and is not weakened by it like other vampires which of course, is a huge issue for Blade’s arch-enemy – Deacon Frost played wonderfully by Stephen Dorff.
This is the movie that more or less launched both Wesley Snipes and Stephen Dorff’s careers in the action genre and for a good reason. Both actors bring so much to their roles, it’s hard to believe that they were literally unknown’s before this film’s release. Not to mention Kris Kristofferson who plays Blade’s technologically knowledgeable partner Whistler, also a man on a mission to kill every vampire in existence. It seems Whistler and Blade are a match made in heaven, but that just won’t do for Deacon Frost. He is also a vampire on a mission of his own; to take over the seat of the Vampire High Council and rule over the vampire “kingdom”. His creed? To treat all humans as they should be treated by the species at the “top of the food chain” – like food.
This is the sole reason Blade and Deacon Frost clash so often, but it’s exciting when they do. Even though Blade is half-vampire, it is his human side that rules and his vampire abilities are merely tools of the trade and a means to an end. He doesn’t think vampires are anything more than a human with a disease to which he is the cure. It’s simplistic, but it works extremely well for this action flick.
Wesley Snipes is fantastic as Blade. Some say he isn’t a good actor, too “wooden”. But I distinctly remember some critics calling Keanu Reeves the same exact thing, and he was recently honoured as one of the greatest actors of the decade by Vanity Fair. So let’s put that aside and talk about the action for a minute because this movie is full of super explosive action sequences that are just not only beautifully shot but the fight choreography is out of this world. And that’s primarily thanks to Wesley Snipes’ background as a martial artist. Snipes is credited as the stunt coordinator on Blade II, but we were unable to confirm who handled the stunt work in Blade. I would be amazed if it wasn’t Snipes doing all of his own stunts with his background and near-perfect physicality for the role.
And finally, the soundtrack for Blade was just as exciting as the action, particularly during the “Blood Bath” scene. What appears to be a normal “rave” turns into a bloody, nightmarish mosh pit from hell. And Blade comes in without a single care in the world and wipes the floor clean with his stellar roundhouse kicks and furious samurai sword attacks and parries.
Blade was also considered the movie that could have saved Marvel from bankruptcy because of its success and opened up the cinematic universe to Marvel’s future projects including the Avengers and Iron Man. Without it, there might not have been an MCU at all.
Dark, gritty, violent and badass. Worthy of every star we’re giving it. Thank you, Wesley Snipes.
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Freelance entertainment writer and reviewer. Visit my blog on https://thebrokenquill.com.