Canister X Movie Review #17: Blade (1998)
Written by David S. Goyer
Directed by Stephen Norrington
Runtime 120 min.
4 out of 5
Half-human/half-vampire Blade makes war on the undead—that’s the vampire undead, I’m talking—and tries to dismantle the vampire underworld piece by piece. He soon meets Karen, a hematologist, who was bitten by a vampire. Before the change occurs, she researches how a possible cure can be attained. Meanwhile, Deacon Frost, a rising star in the vampire community, believes he can become even more powerful by awakening the blood god La Magra. The problem is he needs the blood of the “daywalker”—Blade—to achieve it.
Blood and carnage ensue as Blade tries to stop the vampire world from rising to supremacy while also battling the bloodthirsty vampire within himself in this thrilling monster superhero movie extravaganza.
For me, Blade was the “prequel” movie to the start of the superhero box office comeback, which would later be kicked off by X-Men. It was almost as if studios were testing the waters with a serious superhero movie using a lesser known character and disguising him as a “slayer” to see how audiences would react. That’s my superficial first impression, but then when you get into Blade and watch it you soon find out there is far more here than just a slayer-vs-vampire flick. Is he a superhero? Yes, but not your conventional one. There is no secret identity, no costume per se—though he does sport a cool trench coat and sword—and no standard supporting character in the vein of a love interest. Instead, you get a conflicted man who’s part vampire who’s trying so desperately to tame the beast within while also doing what’s right: killing vampires and helping those who get caught in the crossfire. Sounds like a superhero to me.
Wesley Snipes as Blade is sheer awesomeness. He’s tough as nails, got the martial arts moves, is dark and handles himself like someone who has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Which is true, of course, as he’s doing his best to keep the vampires at bay, namely the ambitious ones who would seek to subdue, even eradicate, the human race.
Kris Kristofferson is dynamite as Whistler, Blade’s father-figure, friend and mentor. Talk about a tragic origin for this guy and one that tugs at the heartstrings. He’s the perfect example of a man trying to make things right because something so wrong was done to him and those he loved. Plus “Kris Kristofferson” is a cool name so he gets points just for that.
I liked Stephen Dorff as Deacon Frost, a cocky villain who knows how powerful he is and is tired of others trying to “keep a good vampire down.” He’d make an amazing Bat-villain, in my mind, just by the way he plays villains—confident, dark, a tad witty—maybe Riddler? I mean, the real Riddler, the one who’s serious and not a slapstick goofball like in Batman Forever.
Blade’s exciting from start to finish, with action sequences and slayer-vs-vampire moments that make you want to hit the rewind on the remote and watch ’em again. I’m really glad they made two other sequels because Blade’s a character with endless story possibilities because both him and his universe go beyond the simple slayer-vs-vampire motif. Like a Transformer, there’s more to him than meets the eye and this flick does a great job of showing that. No wonder it did so well at the box office and earned about triple its budget.