Monday, October 26, 2009

DVD Review: Blood the Last Vampire

Back in 2000 Production I.G. released their mainstream animated piece, Blood: The Last Vampire. Anime fans everywhere cheered and the film became something of a success story both in Japan and in America. It was so popular, in fact, that an animated series entitled Blood+ was released not too long ago by Sony Pictures. I suppose it's only fitting that they also secured the rights to the license for the live-action version of the original film.

Now, there are a few things you should know going into this flick. The 2009 live-action version of Blood: The Last Vampire is Directed by Chris Nahon (Kiss of the Dragon) and Produced by Ronny Yu (Fearless, Bride of Chucky), and it's entirely in English. That last part caught me a bit off guard. I mean, you have a movie based on a Japanese animated feature with a Korean actress as its lead, and it's all in English? I'm not complaining, really, I was just kind of surprised. Then again, considering the film takes place primarily on an American military base I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised that English is the spoken language. Oh, and the last thing you need to know about Blood: The Last Vampire is that it's purely a guilty pleasure film. That's right, you shut your brain off at the door in order to get full enjoyment.

The movie starts out with Saya (Gianna Jun) on a subway train hunting down a Japanese businessman who is trying to mind his own business and read the paper. A shortwhile later he's on the run from her and getting sliced in half. This is the point where we are introduced to the fact that Saya isn't exactly normal (she's really half-human, half-vampire, all badass) and we're introduced to some men who are a part of a group known as the Council (Red Shield in the anime version). Saya basically works with these guys in tracking down vampires. You see, she's still upset over the fact that the queen vampire, Onigen, killed her father over 400 years ago.
After the opening Saya is sent undercover to a school on the American base in order to track down some vampires who are having their way with people. What she finds is a whole lot worse. What is that you ask? How about a deadweight partner named Alice, who is about as useful as tits on a bull. Seriously, Alice brings absolutely nothing to the story here. They penned in her character as a way to give Saya a sidekick and to humanize the character, but it truly wasn't necessary. Considering Blood: The Last Vampire spends precious little time on plot as it is, that wasted time could have been spent developing Saya or even Onigen. Instead you basically have a film that takes you from one fight scene to the next where Saya constantly has to save Alice's ass from becoming beef tataki for a vampire gym teacher.

The video quality is pretty sharp and the 2.35:1 anamorphic image has a lot of feathers in its cap. The resolution is solid for a standard edition DVD, the picture is clean, and there is no interlacing of any kind. I do want to bring up the fact that there is a heavy use of filters employed here. The ovreall picture is tinted yellow and some of the lights are blindingly contrasted against the dark background. As far as the sound goes it's smooth sailing as well, and the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track stands out with some nice directionality and a lot of bass backing each punch or kick.

There are also a couple of extra features packed onto the disc. There is a "Making Of" featurette with some nice behind the scenes shots and interviews, and a special effects featurette that looks at Jun's training to become Saya. There's also an extensive amount of fight choreography footage and more interviews form the cast in the second feature.

Ultimately Blood: The Last Vampire falls short of expectations from someone who wanted to see a faithful representation of the anime. However, if you're just looking for a lot of fight scenes, cheesy special effects, bad looking CGI blood sprays, and a shut your brain off at the door good time, then there are far worse guilty pleasures out there. As it stands this one is merely a B-movie adaptation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Maki Rating:

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