Though the media often cites Bryan Singer for starting the comic book movie boom of the twenty first century with his adaptation of “X-Men,” most comic book fans argue that “Blade” really started it all. “Blade” was a scaled down production based on a popular comic book character and managed to present an epic story with a minimal budget. It’s ironic that the character that would restart the comic book movie boom was a kitschy seventies horror character known primarily for being one of the few minority superheroes in the Marvel Universe. The adaptation of the Marv Wolfman character manages to get the character just right.
While “Blade” is not a masterpiece, it definitely manages to display how to adapt a character well. It embraces the R rated roots, and the vampire sub-genre, while also sticking true to Blade’s blaxploitation origins. Wesley Snipes has the chops to play Blade, and turns the character in to a vampire hunting John Shaft. Years after his mother was bitten by a vampire, Blade was born a half breed. With all of vampire’s advantages and none of their weaknesses, Blade devotes his life to destroying the rising vampire population. Sadly, he’s losing as a vampire named Deacon garners a master plan to invoke a blood god and take over the world, allowing vampires to walk during the day and wreak havoc. “Blade” for the most part is an entertaining action horror film, that suffers from a really bad script. Most of the dialogue is cringe worthy, with spotty editing and often goofy choreography.
The story also reaches here and there, turning “Blade” in to a camp fest, when clearly director Stephen Norrington seems to be aiming for some sense of drama and dignity. Why the hell would vampires sick a kung fu fighting teenage girl on Blade? If it’s as easy as putting on a thick coating of sun block, why don’t all vampires just buy up stock on sun block and use it all the time? And if Karen is capable of curing Blade of his vampirism, why not use that to target Deacon Frost, who isn’t a pure blood vampire anyway? And if La Magra is supposed to turn everyone in to vampire gods, what happens when the food source finally runs out? Despite the plot holes, “Blade” is fun action horror fodder, with Wesley Snipes having a ball as an ass kicking vampire hunter, who relies on his skills to bring down the monsters.
Director Norrington offers up some unique imagery including the vampire blood rave, and the big showdown with Deacon Frost, all the while keeping the mystique to Blade all the way through to the closing credits. Stephen Dorff is also a great exploitation angled villain as the young and clever Deacon Frost who forms an obsession with Blade, and is intent on using him for his master plan involving the blood god. Norrington provides a gritty and unique adaptation of a character once stuck in the seventies, and contemporizes him on his own bases without having to rely on introducing characters like Dracula or Morbius from the Blade mythos. While I much prefer the sequel, with Snipes’ charisma and Blade’s appeal, the movie stands on its own and works as a very entertaining action horror hybrid.