Directed by Peter O’Fallon
Distributed by New Line Home Entertainment
Blade: HoC picks up right where the first Blade film left off. Our first introduction to Sticky’s version of the vampire hunter starts off in Russia as he runs down a blood sucker in close quarters on his motorcycle. After that we return to Detroit, where Blade and his partner Shen are setting up shop to hunt down the famous face of the nation’s largest vampire family, the House of Chthon.
The prey Blade is after is Marcus Van Sciver, a man about town. He is well regarded in the public eye as a man who looks to restore Detroit’s historic locations, but deep down he has other plans. Marcus runs a small research operation out of a meat factory where he is attempting to create a cure for the weaknesses that plague all vampires. Van Sciver has created and abducted many lower-level vamps who are experimented on and as a result killed when the serum does not protect them from garlic and so on.
While Blade searches for answers on how to get into the operation, he recruits a woman named Krista Starr, who has just returned home from serving in the war to find that her brother has been killed by Marcus. Her investigation ends in a horrible twist of fate as she is recruited into the vampire house and must decide to serve them or help Blade.
Being that this DVD is actually the extended and unrated version of the TV pilot, the audience will have to spend more time with getting characters set up and securing story arcs before the balls out action can start. This could have been the time for the Blade series to fail; yet, it doesn’t. Sure, getting to know the heroine Krista, the evil vampire pretty boy Marcus, and Blade’s right-hand tech geek Shen consumes much of the film’s running time, but it is pulled off with talent. The backstory involving Krista never becomes overly sappy, and she is our human gateway into the vampire world whereas Blade’s is more about hostility.
Don’t worry; there’s plenty of good ol’ suckhead killing to be had. Stunts and fights are well coordinated and stylized thanks to wire work that never goes too far over the top to look silly. Sticky almost matches Snipes’ ability to pull the viewer into each brawl … now if only he was a little faster. There is more brute force behind Sticky’s Blade, but all can be forgiven when he starts handling the weapons. Skin gets pierced, bullets go flying, and vampires burst into flame! That is really where the action lights up.
Staples of the films’ arsenal (the sword, light bombs, and the glaive) all return with very little modifications, and most of then get used at least once. Guns become the most commonly employed arms, and believe me when I say shit gets blown up real good. Swordplay and the use of a few new pieces of equipment get a good amount of play and are accented with CGI that works most of the time.
Many vampires who tangle with Blade end up with the same fate as we’ve seen throughout the films: They burst into flames and become nothing but a pile of ashes. The effects are not nearly the same quality as found in the theatrical releases, but one really has to look to see the quality issues. The most glaring effects problem comes from the green screen shots. Though there are only a few, these scenes are painfully obvious.
What isn’t painful though is the quality of the first special feature we’ll be covering, Turning the Blade. This documentary is split up into several chapters that look back at the creation of the series, casting, acting, stunts, props, and filming. This is one long journey that is only hindered by the cast constantly talking up the series, which may be totally dead in the water. Other than that everything else is golden. The depth is amazing; we’re shown every different type of prop from stunt to hero all the way down to the intricate design on Blade’s coat. Bravo.
The interviews inform but are also very entertaining as the cast joke and reveal more about themselves than is common in these sorts of supplements. A particular part to look for is during the third chapter where Neil Jackson and the guy who plays his bodyguard, Fritz, wax on about their characters’ relationship and the homoeroticism buried within.
The final two features are separate commentaries, one with director Peter O’Fallon and the other with scribes David Goyer and Geoff Johns. Peter’s track is plenty informative as would be expected from the director. Major and minor details revealed about the filmmaking process should be eaten up by those eager young wannabes who want to make an expensive looking project on the cheap.
The writers’ commentary regurgitates a healthy amount of the stuff O’Fallon covered, but there’s still much to be learned from these two. More of the behind-the-scenes details are covered here as the audience gets to know what held the series back from being more like the films. On top of that Goyer and Johns don’t pat backs for the entire affair. Off and on the two will point out parts of the pilot that really “jumped the shark” in their words. No tongues up asses here.
Praise should be given to Spike TV for allowing the team to push the envelope as far as the suits would let them. This was a series that just needed a little more money, advertising, and freedom to really work. Blade isn’t officially dead, so keep that support rolling and it may get picked up.
4 out of 5
5 out 5
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