Rating -

Action (US); 1998; Rated R; 120 Minutes

Wesley Snipes: Blade
Stephen Dorf: Deacon Frost
Kris Kristofferson: Abraham Whistler
NíBushe Wright: Karen
Donal Logue: Quinn
Udo Kier: Dragonetti
Arly Jover: Mercury

Produced by Avi Arad, Joseph Calamari, Jon Divens, Robert Engelman, Peter Frankfurt, Lynn Harris, Andrew J. Horne, Stan Lee and Wesley Snipes; Directed by Stephen Norrington; Screenwritten by David S. Goyer

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Written by DAVID KEYES

Blade is not a title referring to a sharp knife. Itís referring to a character (a vampire slayer, actually) played by Wesley Snipes, in the latest film based on a comic book series. Never being one to read the comic, I was unsure of what to expect of the movie, considering that preview trailers werenít that impressive. But Blade did surprised me--it took me to what Hollywood considers futuristic film noir, all at the same time of combining elements of an action picture, a horror movie and (yes) even the standard comic book plot outline. Mixing elements like this is a big risk, but the creators of Blade have done it well, taking us to a world so ingenious and so mesmerizing that at a few points, I was reminded of the original Batman movie. Blade, instead of having its limits like the original Batman film, expands upon the horizon of possibilities, penetrating us in a place we are bound to always remember.

Futuristic noir doesnít occur much in the movies. The only examples of it I can pinpoint are Dark City and The Crow, which, coincidentally, were both directed by Alex Proyas, a man of great visual style. Stephen Norrington, the director of Blade, continues in Proyasí footsteps of this small but growing genre. He knows what heís doing here, giving us a well-performed interpretation of the popular comic book. Although I imagine its story has been dragged out for years for its readers, the story in the film seemed so fresh to me thatís itís almost confusing. Many times have I been gradually consumed by the stories and characters of noir, and this was no exception. By some simple twist of fate, I came out of Blade wanting to see it over and over again, not for its visual touches, but for its consuming plot and characters.

The story, while not extremely large, is still an excellent one. Snipes plays Blade, who, apparently, is half human, half vampire. The human race casts him aside for containing vampiristic qualities in his soul, while full-blood vampires disown him for being part human. He is torn away from both societies, which creates the audience a portrait of one of the most unique creatures in the movies. He has urges like a vampire, as well as the soul and emotion of a humanís. He hates the vampires for destroying his once-human life, at the same time of not wanting anything to do with standard human beings. Qualities like this in a human soul can be tormenting for a person to handle, but Snipes brings relief to Bladeís character, mix-mashing these two unique qualities to the point where his character understands what to do and when to do it. We arenít watching a Bruce Wayne clone here--we are watching an interesting blend of vampire and human, as the story slowly sets him into problems and pressures that confuse either side of his personality.

But he is guided along the way thanks to a character named Whistler, who happens to be the same type of vampire-human Blade is. Whistler trains him to prevent the vampires from taking over the city, since they have plans for total domination just as Blade reaches the most developed point of life. Snipesí character is enforced with technological weaponry and intense fighting skill, both of which seem to provide some breathtaking special effects sequences throughout the movie.

If this does not sound like a story right out of a comic book, than perhaps youíve never read one. Considering that a comicís series can be stretched out over the years, the stories get complicated and amusing, ever so often introducing plot twists and characters that are totally unexpected. The movie version manages to do all of these things within the length of two hours, without ever getting too complicated or two overdone. The movie is paced well with great characters, interesting story, and absolutely stunning set direction.

By the time the movie was over, I was in awe over the visionary success that I had just scene. Itís not often when these futuristic noir stories show up in theaters, and itís not often that they can be so promising and so pleasing to the eye and soul. A nostalgia was filled in my blood for the rest of the evening, as I looked back at it and remembered. Blade not only continues on Proyasí vision of futuristic-noir, but on the imagination and eye-candy possibilities all at the same time.

© 1998, David Keyes, Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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