Film Fridays – ‘Blade’ and ‘Blade II’

Film Fridays is a project initiated by Sarah and I. After doing a daily music challenge for a month last year we talked about doing something similar for movies. The current global lockdowns give us the perfect excuse to start. Many of us are confined to home with only the TV for company so we thought we would start β€˜Film Fridays’ so that we can talk about our favourite movies and hopefully give our readers some ideas for things to watch. If you join us please tag filmfriday and link back to one or both of us so we can read your own contributions!

We would be delighted if you would join us! We don’t necessarily want to talk about the nerdy technical details but more about why these films speak to us as individuals, why they have a place in out hearts, and any personal memories they evoke. 

Sarah and I have shared our lists and decided to tackle them as written – in my case in alphabetical order because I am sad like that….

‘Blade’ (1998)

The trailer is on Youtube at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaU2A7KyOu4&t=6s

Blade is a human whose mother was bitten by a vampire whilst pregnant. He inherited all the vampire’s strengths but not their weaknesses, except the thirst for blood which is kept in check with an artificial serum. With the aid of his mentor, Whistler, he lives to hunt vampires and protect people from them. In this first movie he tackles vampire baddie Deacon Frost, who seeks to remove the restraints imposed by ruling vampires, and that have prevented wholesale slaughter.

You might argue that this movie has a lot to answer for. Blade was a Marvel comic book character created in 1973 and this movie was the first really successful Marvel adaptation – paving the way for what became the Marvel Cinematic Universe which has dominated the box office for the last decade.

The MCU has, until recently with ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Logan’ , made sure that its movies are rated around PG13 in order to put as many bums on seats as possible. Their surprise at the popularity of ‘Deadpool’ despite its adult rating seems odd when you realise that ‘Blade’ was similarly adult in tone and was a big success.

Blade makes no pretence of being high-art, but as an action/horror mashup it is hard to beat for entertainment. Wesley Snipes is made for the lead role and it is hard to imagine anyone else playing the character, even though a short-lived TV series recast the role, and a new actor has been cast for Blade rejoining the MCU in the near future. His physicality suits the character perfectly, though he handles the more nuanced parts of the script well too.

My favourite character is his mentor Abraham Whistler, played magnificently by Kris Kristofferson. His own backstory is tragic and his hatred for vampires understandable. He is also grey-haired and grumpy so I identify with him πŸ˜‰

For me, it is the baddie, Deacon Frost, who disappoints. He simply does not seem especially threatening!

‘Blade II’ (2002)

The trailer is on Youtube at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAUB7dcUn8o

This sequel follows blade as he teams up in a reluctant truce with a group of highly-trained vampires (originally trained to hunt Blade himself) to track down vampires infected by the ‘Reaper’ virus that turns them into animalistic creatures driven only to feed as often as possible on both humans and vampires, infecting them in turn. Apologies for the coincidental topicality of this story!

The primary reason this movie is preferred over the first one is the presence of Guillermo Del Toro as director. He brings his signature visual flair to the project and it is a treat to look at as a result. This movie led to his own ‘Hellboy’ and ‘Hellboy II’. These days of course, with ‘The Shape of Water’ he has reached Academy-award levels of success, whist still doing his “dark fantasy” thing.

The casting in this movie is intriguing too. The ever-great Ron Perlman is the hulking member of the vampire team with a nasty surprise up his sleeve. Chief baddy Nomak is played by former boy-band singer Luke Goss of Bros fame. He is superb and genuinely threatening in a way that the antagonist of the first movie was not. (Perlman, of course, was later cast in Del Toro’s ‘Hellboy’ in the title role, with Goss following as the chief villain in ‘Hellboy II’).

For those of us who are fans of the BBC comedy show ‘Red Dwarf’, the appearance of Danny John Jules in Blade II seems really weird. Especially given he plays a vampire in the movie and wore fake canine teeth playing a humanoid cat in Red Dwarf!

The practical make-up effects for the ‘reapers’ are very well done, making some close-up sequences actually quite uneasy to watch. Some of the CGI elsewhere, whilst good for the time, is not perfect. Choreography of the fight scenes is excellent.

The last scene was so effective that it was nicked by ’30 Days of Night’ a few years later πŸ˜‰

Both movies are, it has to be said, very violent. But for me they are the perfect thing to watch late at night with a drink (wine, not blood). I am very much not a fan of the dangerous-but-romantic vampires that have come along in movies in recent decades (basically Mr Darcy without a pulse) and the Blade movies act as a sort of counter to that.

They were, admittedly, borderline for inclusion here. But I like them so they are going in πŸ˜‰

The third movie in the trilogy (Blade-Trinity) is poor and makes the same early mistake that Alien 3 made, thus souring the rest of the movie for me! I would not bother unless you are a completist. It does mark the Marvel debut of Ryan Reynolds (who eventually became Deadpool), but as I am not a fan this does not endear me to Blade-Trinity!

25 Comments

  1. You write really good reviews Darren: I’m almost tempted by this, despite my general avoidance of all things violent or vampirish.
    The only vampire film I really enjoyed was Only Lovers Left Alive (which I’ve just added to my list), and I suspect the only other I’ve seen was the 1992 Dracula, which totally wasted Gary Oldman and drove me nuts shouting at Mina to forget that vapid nerd Keanu Reeves and just shack up with Vlad.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Tilda Swindon and Tom Hiddleston; that was enough to get me through the door, but the movie is great beyond the leads.

        Dracula was full of mis-casting, but Sadie Frost was rather fun as Lucy.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I never watched Blade. I’m too sensitive to gore and violence. I’ve learned to look away! Yes, watching Game of Thrones was interesting (and traumatizing)! I love this 80s run of movies though. Westley Snipes! And I enjoy your descriptions of your Friday Film series. Do you do a lot of research? Or do you have a robotic memory? πŸ˜›

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Lani!
      For a lot of the 80s stuff I can rely partly on memory as I read a lot of movie magazines in those days and can recall the production (and reviews) of a lot of my favourite films. There is a big gap of nearly 20 years from the mid-90s when I was not keeping up with movies.
      I have never seen Game of Thrones by the way!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. What?! No Game of Thrones?!?! Okay, heading right over again (even though I don’t have it on DVD but am sure I can find copies on the way πŸ˜‚) and this time OPEN THE BLOODY DOOR WHEN I KNOCK!!! πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‚

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I hate to admit it but even though I’m a huge vampire fan (Buffy etc.) I haven’t seen either of these yet although your mentioning of Guillermo Del Torro as director of the second one makes me really curious!! Funny, just last weekend I watched The Shape of Water (first time) and was instantly tempted to add it to my list of favourites even though I somehow think you have to watch a film several times to make it count, that’s how much I liked it!! Anyway back to Blade – I really don’t know why I’ve never seen it, maybe it always ran too late at night. πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Del Toro has a very distinctive style. I too, loved Shape of Water and think you would be justified in adding it straight away. Doug Jones also played a very similar creature in the two Hellboy movies for Del Toro. Please tell me you saw those??

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahem – no?! 😨 So sorry! I know it’s lame but I’m more the DC type of girl. πŸ˜‚ But I’m not categorically against it and would make an effort to watch it just to compare notes with you. 😍

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh dear.. You are missing a treat! Hellboy is an absolute hoot. Speaking of Del Toro – I watched ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ a few weeks ago and whilst it has his usual fantasy elements it has some extremely unpleasant violence and torture scenes and I won’t be watching it again!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I remember watching Pan’s Labyrinth a few years back and how fascinated I have been by the story and how it was told. The fantasy part always speaks a great deal to me. I could have done without the violence though, it was really a bit too much for my taste too and also wouldn’t make me want to watch it again.
            Speaking of violence in movies and such – I’m currently watching Into the Badlands on DVD: do you know it? It’s really good if you like what I call ‘aesthetically presented violence’. πŸ˜„

            Liked by 1 person

              1. It’s great! I think you’d love it! It’s more kung-fu and swordmanship inspired than machine guns and the story is great too! Which reminds me – a year or so ago I recommended that you try watching Preacher. Since it’s also vampires I think that would be something for you too if you haven’t seen it already. πŸ˜€

                Liked by 1 person

              2. The latter is more funny by the way than the first but that’s compensated by the overall aesthetics of the first series. I admit – I’m a sucker for beauty. πŸ˜‚

                Liked by 1 person

  4. You make even a blood thirsty violent movie seem compelling Daren but I might have to pass on this one. I have a vague recollection that I may have begun watching the first Blade years ago but ditched it early on. But I’ll join you for a glass of that red! Cheers. πŸ˜€πŸ·

    Liked by 1 person

  5. OOOH I love the Blade films and Wesley Snipes is a fav actor of mine and he really suits the role as vampire hunter. I love anything to do with vampires, quite like to be one!!! (JOKE!!!) πŸ˜‰ so vampire TV shows and movies are a favourite of mine. Did you know Danny John Jules was in the original cast of Starlight Express? The cat was one of my fav characters in Red Dwarf! Hope you are well Darren? Have a good weekend x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! Another Blade fan! You have excellent taste Gill😊.
      I am also a vampire fan. Dominique recently introduced me to ‘True Blood’, which I greatly enjoyed. I did not know that about Danny John Jules but it seems to fit him! And he completely OWNED Cat in Red Dwarf😍. Am doing OK thank you. On tenterhooks as expecting to be sent back to work any day now. Have a great weekend Gill. X

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I loved True Blood! Vampires and sexy with it! LOL I really want to read the books! I hope your ease back into the working world goes ok. I am quite happy at home, so it will be a wrench to go back hahahahah Have a great weekend too xx

        Liked by 1 person

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