Review: Blood: The Last Vampire
PLOT: Saya is a young girl who also happens to be a slayer of vampires. While her appearance is of a 16-year old, she has lived as a 400-year old “Halfling”, part human and part vampire. Hired by a special ops group to rid the world of vamps, she is sent to an American military base in Tokyo. While there, she befriends a girl by the name of Alice, and soon finds herself trying to protect her new found BFF. All the while, she senses a very close presence of an old enemy, the mother of all vampires, Onegin. Now, she is not only fighting for herself, she is fighting to protect Alice… and humanity.
Vampires sure are making a comeback. From TWILIGHT to LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, there seems to be a resurgence for the bloodsuckers, and it’s not even Halloween yet. BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE is another one that would prefer the action as opposed to the horror aspect. But I will tell you one thing, it is pretty true to the anime version released in 2000. Director Chris Nahon colors this low budget feature with some slow motion kung fu and a very stylish bit of violence and mayhem. But sadly, one thing they rely on is the use of CGI and it almost never works. There is one sequence where a flying vampire attacks a truck, similar to UNDERWORLD 2: EVOLUTION, but not even near that smooth. The beastie looks a bit like a Ghoulie from that ever popular franchise. You remember GHOULIES right? Well, this monster is not even nearly as terrifying as those toilet dwelling demons.
Bad CGI aside, Blood did offer up a very interesting package with a little vampire named Saya (Gianna Jun). She is the gal that government ops hire to kill all the bad vampires, and they supply her with her sustenance to feed. She is quiet, demure and can really do some damage even when she is completely outnumbered. I liked Gianna quite a bit here. She is extremely beautiful and is able to carry off the action sequences very well. She is assigned to go undercover at an American Military Base in Tokyo as a student. Once there, she meets a girl named Alice (Alison Miller) who is living with her General father. And apparently, the vamps have an issue with not only Alice, but Saya. There is a hint of what was going on in the late Sixties in regards to racism. With that, this first section of the film was quite promising at times. I liked Alison Miller up until all the bad stuff begins to happen, she gets annoying after awhile with all the whining. But even with that, both Miller and Gianna have a bit of chemistry together and are able to infuse some life into the first act.
While Saya is being utilized to destroy all vampires, she only has eyes for one. The mother of all vampires, Onigen played by Koyuki. Yes, she is very beautiful in the role, but she makes for a bland baddie. She is not terrible, but there is something not so menacing about her, just sort of one-note. Even when she breaks open a guys head and it shatters in a not so gory way, I didn’t find her remotely terrifying. And as for the rest of the vampires, they are all just a bunch of featured extras that are delivered an art deco looking bloody fate. In many ways, Blood plays out similar to the Joss Whedon series (not the movie) “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”. But it lacks the charm and wit, and in many ways, the excitement and scares in the series. The whole high school setting, which doesn’t last very long, might have made for a more interesting use. And I can honestly say that I was never really bored with this live action Anime, but the ridiculously obvious plot holes and the laughably over the top script left a lot to be desired.
What did surprise me is that director, Chris Nahon was able to add a surprisingly effective look to certain moments in the film. As cheap as the budget may have been and as awful as much of the CGI was, he created some really interesting scenes throughout. The final battle was quite pleasing visually, if they had taken out all the dialogue it would have been a pretty cool dream-like sequence. Onigen and her flowing robe and the young warrior Saya battling for the good of all mankind or whatever. But again, the dialogue is dreadful, yet I can’t help but thinking it might have worked better as a true to form Anime… actually, it did (see the original 48 minute film directed by Hiroyuki Kitakubo). I’m guessing some will find pleasure in this live action story of a half-vampire who likes to kill vamps and isn’t named Blade, at least it has a couple of good points. Much like Saya, the film’s heroine, BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE is half a good film and half of a really bad one. My rating 5/10 -- JimmyO