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Dracula II: Ascension (2003)
| Directed by:
Scott Lee/ Ufizzi
Following the finale
of “Dracula 2000”, a group of medical
students find Dracula’s BBQ'd corpse dropped on their slab. Upon finding
out that they have a vampire's table-scraps on their hands, they steal the
body and bring it to a remote location in order to study it. The
Prince of Darkness eventually rises again and can somebody tell me who that trench-coat badass kicking that fanged
derriere is? THE MAN ROCKS!
I enjoyed the original
"Dracula 2000". I
actually grew to love the film and its blood-sucking lead (Gerard Butler)
more through multiple viewings. This straight-to-video sequel, brought to us by
the same gentlemen who gave us the first one (writer/director Patrick
Lussier and writer Joel Soisson), didn’t top the original in my book, but
was a kool sit-down in its own right.
II (should’ve called it
Dracula 2003) moved along at an even pace while sporting
impressive production values for a film of its budget. This movie is a
"looker" and the style never stopped wooing me. I also got hooked by the
intimate story quickly, dug its character-driven nature, got taken aback
by the motivational twists and enjoyed the clever use of more obscure
vampire rules (all about the seed count…nice!). Toss in there a couple
of tight gore howlers, some gnarly visual effects (all about the building
jumping), a strong cast (gotta love Sheffer) and a hyper polished
directorial coating courtesy of slow motion madman Patrick Lussier and
you get a strong straight-to-video offering.
The groovier element
for me this time around though was definitely the ultimate badass priest, self flagellator and vampire
hunter Ufizzi played by the shamelessly under-appreciated Jason Scoot Lee.
The sight of him walking in slow motion, long black coat floating about,
with vamp kicking on the fritz was a sight to behold. His slew of "money"
weapons also appealed to me big-time. You can’t go wrong with a spiked
whip doing damage...trust me, my ex-girlfriend knows all about that and
still thanks me to this day for it. Ufuizzi really cranked my dial to the
point of wanting the duder to have his own franchise!
It’s written all over him! Get to it Dimension Films...instead of that
abominable "Suspiria" remake idea (shudders).
I did have some peeves with the film
though, the first being the lack of hardcore action. The film never
entirely fulfilled the promise of the snazzy Ufuizzi character through the "pow-wow"
that should’ve came with his no-bull presence. Apart from the taut
opening chase sequence, Ubizzy’s fighting bits were either too seldom,
ended too quickly and in one case, happened off-screen (that one pissed me
off). I guess budget had something to do with the film not always going
"all out" with the action scenarios which it set up. The annoying angry black man
character (Kenny played by Khary Payron)
also grated me. You know the type...he has his mind on his money and his
money on his mind and he’s always pissed for some reason. Somebody
should’ve smoked their “endo” instead of always thinking “for da
love of da money” in furious anger.
Lastly, although I appreciated that
this sequel took a different approach to the fanged one, I was bummed that
Drac wound up being tied down for 65 percent of the running time. I wanted
to see the man on the loose whopping that human ass...it took way too long
for it to happen. At least Stephen Bellington, although no Gerard Butler,
gave a charismatic and menacing turn with trendy bleached blonde hair to
back him up. In lesser hands, the role could’ve been a bore to watch. Good
In the end, Dracula
up being a flawed but satisfying watch helped by the immense talent
behind and in front of the camera. It also acted as a great set up for the
upcoming Part III. It’s looking promising guys...I’m there with garlic
Jason Scott Lee (Ufizzi) was the shite and put out an
infectious aura of mystery.
I loved his role! It's only too bad that he wasn’t in more of the film. Jason London
(Luke) gave a natural show as the med student with Vampire Killer
potential. Craig Sheffer (Lowell) had me transfixed to the screen-- "Hellraiser: Inferno" made me a fan of the man and now he can’t do any
wrong. Growl Craig…GROWL! Diane Neal (Elizabeth) was very credible as
the lead female student. She was also quite easy on the eyes. John Light
(Eric) hit all the right levels and had a Ray Liotta vibe to him. Stephen
Bellington (Dracula) had the juice as Dracula...too bad the flick didn’t
let him run with it enough. Roy Schneider had a cameo playing a blind
priest whose eyes dart left and right like a speed freak. It’s called
We get a slew of decapitations, rolling heads, a graphic
autopsy, burnt bodies, a face bit off (nice one!), barbed whip cutting
throats, dart in throat, lots of plasma and more. The red Kool-Aid flowed.
Brande Nicole Roderick in her
undies and bathed in blood goes a long way...a veeery long way, if you know
what I mean. We also get cleavage galore from that cutie in her
apartment. The ladies get Jason Scott Lee shirtless and yes, the taco still
hits the gym fervently and it showed.
Lussier does it again, delivering striking style via creative
shots, crazy angles, mucho use of slow motion (I’m a sucker for that
stuff) and a couple of trippy quick cut jamborees. The flick looked good
and the atmospheric visuals upped my enjoyment of the whole big-time.
Kevin Kliesch served up a
gripping score that added to the feel of the film. I was also pleased to
hear Marco Beltrami’s effective “Dracula 2000” theme song.
IMAGE: We get a beautiful 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen image with solid colors
and a clean print.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound came through big-time with
the score, in particular, invading my living room hardcore.
Auditions (3-12 minutes each): This feature
showcases the audition tapes of Brando Roderick (Tanya) / Khary Payron
(Kenny) / Diane Neal (Elizabeth) / John Light (Eric) / Daniela Nane (Young
Woman). I enjoy features like this, always a hoot to see the actors do
their shite to gain that part.
commentary: Writer/Director Patrick Lussier, writer
Joel Soisson and effect supervisor Gary Tunnicliffe all come in to partake
in this insightful commentary that addressed the crew behind the flick,
the locations, the casting, specific shots and much more! An interesting
also get 4 deleted scenes and trailers featuring "Kill Bill",
"Dracula 2000" and "Tangled and Asunder".
Although this sequel was a good
watch, I boogied to the original more. I still remember specific scenes from
"Dracula 2000" fondly and I got to appreciate Gerard Butler’s show more through each viewing. This sequel, on the other hand, didn’t have the same impact on me. Having said
that, it was still a quality genre bomb, with a strong cast, a polished look, some tasty gore, a tight pace, Craig Sheffer owning with his growls and Jason Scott Lee at his koolest. Sink your teeth into it and suck it dry!
Rutger Hauer is credited here as
playing Dracula-- it seems he’s in one of the future premonitions. I
didn’t see the dude because yes, I’m human and I blink on occasions! I
hear he plays Dracula in the next sequel as well: "Dracula III:
Fangoria.com had this to say about
the next sequel: “DRACULA
LEGACY follows two characters from ASCENSION who hook up and become
vampire hunters,” Tunnicliffe continues. “They’re played by Jason
Scott Lee, who’s a priest who becomes
infected with the vampire virus, and Jason London.
The story basically becomes HEART OF DARKNESS as they hunt down Dracula (Rutger
Hauer), who has become a recluse". Lee and London are both fantastic; Lee
is obviously very physical, and London is just hilarious. In the first
film, he’s just an opportunist, and in the second he gets pulled into the
world of vampire hunters.
my interview with director Patrick Lussier here
this movie on The Arrow's HORROR BOARD
back to the Arrow in the Head Homestead...
© 2003 John
Fallon All Rights Reserved JoBlo.com