In the year 2019, a plague has transformed almost every human into vampires. Faced with a dwindling blood supply, the fractured dominant race plots their survival; meanwhile, a researcher works with a covert band of vamps on a way to save humankind.
A rare mutation has occurred within the vampire community. The Reaper. A vampire so consumed with an insatiable bloodlust that they prey on vampires as well as humans, transforming victims who are unlucky enough to survive into Reapers themselves. Now their quickly expanding population threatens the existence of vampires, and soon there won't be enough humans in the world to satisfy their bloodlust. Blade, Whistler (Yes, he's back) and an armory expert named Scud are curiously summoned by the Shadow Council. The council reluctantly admits that they are in a dire situation and they require Blade's assistance. Blade then tenuously enters into an alliance with The Bloodpack, an elite team of vampires trained in all modes of combat to defeat the Reaper threat. Blade's team and the Bloodpack are the only line of defense which can prevent the Reaper population from wiping out the vampire and human populations. Written by
Blade II is an exciting action film that takes the tired vampire story and adds a new twist by introducing an entirely new villain. Sure, there is sure to be some controversy (at least among film fans and fans of the genre) about whether or not it is right to introduce new characters in this way. Vampires are a tired theme at the movies, but it is a time-honored genre in itself that deserves respect just from the fact that it has been around for so long in literature before the movies. The question of whether or not the writers were justified in introducing these new characters is, in my opinion, satisfied by the fact that they made such quality villains that fit so well into the genre.
I am thrilled to see that they didn't just make another dumb Blade film that was exactly the same as the original except for the possibility of some new special effects, because these new characters, called Reapers, are exactly what the film series, as well as, potentially, the genre as a whole, needed. Reapers are blood-feeders, just like vampires, except they feed on humans as well as vampires, effectively making them an enemy of both, and their thirst is much stronger than the traditional vampire. And to make matters worse (or better, depending on whether you are an enemy of the Reapers of a member of the audience), they are identified by a scar which runs down their chin. This scar is where the lower jaw splits open when the Reaper is feeding, creating a frighteningly massive mouth like a vampire version of the Predator, and which has things inside it reminiscent of the horrifying and strangely unique Tremors.
There are some amazing make-up effects here as well, although I can see the film being automatically overlooked at the Oscars in 2003 simply because it is the successor of such a low class action/horror film, as well as because this is just not the kind of movie that wins Academy Awards. I'm not sure that there is anything in this film that is likely to catch the Academy's attention, but the make-up was very impressive to say the least. Wesley Snipes returns to the role of Blade, the half-human/half-vampire creature dubbed the `Daywalker' because of his ability to withstand sunlight. This is in itself one of the better parts of the movie, because even though I was enormously unimpressed with the original film, there is no one that could play this character as well as Snipes does. There is also an interesting conflict introduced as Blade is forced to team up with the vampires, his mortal enemies who we are to assume could turn on him at any time, in order to fight the Reapers (by far the more dangerous enemy), who reproduce,' you might say, at an astonishing rate.
It's too bad, though, that the existence of the Reapers was introduced by vampires in a rather impressive although entirely unnecessary fight scene between a couple of vampires and Blade himself. Blade is attacked one night by two vampires wearing body suits (and some goggles that probably retain the coolest effect of the entire film), they fight violently for several minutes at full speed without rest, until one of them suddenly kneels before Blade and asks for a truce, informing him that there is now something on the streets that is even worse than him. If they were going to ask for a truce, you would think that they would approach him at least a little differently. One of these vampires (the better fighter, as it were) turns out to be Nyssa Damaskinos, a sexy brunette vampire who's lipstick was not smeared in the least even by all of those flying kicks that she took to the face from Blade about 15 feet in the air. Remarkable.
There seems to be a growing trend of having honest fight scenes replaced at an ever-increasing amount by special effects. Consider how vastly the role of special effects increased in Jet Li's fight scenes in Lethal Weapon 4 (relatively few special effects), Romeo Must Die (massive amounts of special effects), and The One (relatively few movements that were NOT special effects). This same trend is clearly influencing other films that are not made to be primarily fighting films, such as Blade and Blade II. The weapons that Blade carries around are still cool (think of them as a dark version of the toys that James Bond was sometimes given to take on his missions), and while the fight scenes in Blade and especially Blade II are undeniably thrilling and fun to watch, it's impossible to ignore the fact that most of what we are watching is computer generated.
As a whole, Blade II succeeds in reviving the story of Blade, which was not done justice by the original film. The Reapers were a much-needed and very impressive addition to the story, and the resulting conflict between the vampires and Blade himself as they are forced to take sides together provides such an interesting conflict that it almost overshadows the one created by the Reapers, who are by far the more dangerous villains. There is, of course, some stuff here that was thrown in without apparent reason and therefore without beneficial affect (such as the unnecessary, however impressive, fight scene between Blade and the two vampires early in the film), but as a whole the film rises high above its predecessor. The fact that the original film ends with Blade becoming a worldly vampire-hunter is mostly ignored in this film, although this one does end with a similar bit of comic relief and may even leave room for a second sequel. And as much as I disliked the original film, after watching Blade II I can't say that I would be too disappointed to see a Blade III come out in a few years.
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