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In the Eighteenth Century, Rayne is the half-human half-vampire Dhampir and the lead attraction in a carnival's freak-show in Romania. When she escapes, she meets a fortuneteller that tells that her mother was raped by the king of the vampires Kagan and she decides to destroy her father. In her journey for revenge, she meets Vladimir and Sebastian, the leaders of the fortress of vampire hunters Brimstone, and she joins their society. She seeks for powerful talismans to defeat Kagan, while the skilled warriors Vladimir and Sebastian train her to face the forces of Kagan and her human side falls in love with Sebastian. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
After watching BloodRayne, I am thoroughly convinced Uwe Boll will eventually make a good and entertaining movie (five years from now at the very very least.) As Alone in the Dark was a step up from House of the Dead, BloodRayne is a step up from Alone in the dark. Unfortunately, before he gets there Boll will have to continue to trek through the vast expanse of mediocrity one baby step at a time, and there is far more entertainment from a shamelessly bad movie than a merely mediocre one.
The opening credits take place over a nice little montage of paintings, then moves to a sunset in the mountains effectively establishing the mood in a surprisingly competent fashion. I found myself entertaining the idea, "You know, maybe just maybe Boll finally made a good movie." Then just like Alone in the Dark, the first actor opened his mouth and my hopes collapsed. I shook my head, sighed, then braced myself to endure another 80 minutes of performances downplayed to the point that they lack conviction. Vladimir (Michael Madsen), the seasoned vampire hunter and head of Brimstone, delivers his lines with a tone that implies he's been around and seen everything. As a free bonus, Madsen adds an additional quality: unenthusiastic boredom.
Kagun (Ben Kingsley) the old powerful vampire lord, having achieved demi-God status amongst mortals, spends most of his time sitting, standing, or walking. He takes action only in the ceremonial sense. Played to perfection by Kingsley who goes so far as to make his own appearance in the film seem equally ceremonial and equally inconsequential.
(Although one has to wonder if Kingsley and Madsen both went overboard in their performances, or if the editing pushed the performances over the threshold. Dwell on that for a moment, but don't answer.)
Domastir (Will Sanderson), Kaguns' henchman, forever has a crazed wide-eyed stare that lacked any sense of menace. It reminded me of that look pro wrestler gives during their pre-match smack talk rants (which I, try as I might, can't watch with a straight face) ,and from hence forth I saw Domastir as the little wrestler who couldn't.
As for Rayne, herself, Kristanna Loken does an admirable job of wanting to go somewhere with the role despite being trapped by a film that's lost. It knows where it wants to go, but doesn't know how to get there. She does what she can to explore the bloodlust and turmoil of vampirism (or dhampirism) even though the film she's starring in cares only enough to explore blood, blood, and more blood (a point hammered home by the final overly-long montage at the end.)
And then Billy Zane, Elrich, comes to the rescue. Zane salvages his role by going in the exact opposite direction as the rest of the cast. He opts for an approach reminiscent of his role in Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, and gives two well timed blasts from the defibrillator to counter the rest of the film floating on tharzine.
More interesting, yet, is the scene with Elrich and Domastir face to face. When Domastir has a sword to Elrich's heart, staring as intently as ever like a crazed man obsessed with reading a name tag, Elrich pushes the lil' wrestler wanna-be's sword aside and dismisses the whole encounter like it was part of his Las Vegas illusionist's show where Domastir is hypnotized. Elrich and everyone in the audiences knows it's a joke, but Domastir remains clueless.
Gallons of gratuitous gore splatters the death sequences in direct answer to the growing number of PG13 films that should shoot for a hard R but sadly whore themselves to younger audiences. It's a nice thought, but it comes across as gore for the sole sake of gratuity to the point of goofiness. A direct contrast to BloodRayne's overly grounded ("grounded" as in six-feet under) performances. Yet another indication, that Billy Zane had the right idea.
Budgetary and time constraints show up in the choreography of the fights and battle scenes, and even more so in the editing of said scenes. The fights seem curiously rehearsed like a stage-dance, and the swords (practice weapons aside) have unusually thick edges. Fair game for criticism? Eh, in places, sure. No doubt, though, that Boll bashers will target anything and everything not up to Lord of the Rings standards.
In my Alone in the Dark review I mainly focused my criticism on Boll's parasitic dependency on better films for material in his own to the point that Alone in the Dark cannot stand on its own without Equilibrium, Evil Dead, and the Matrix. BloodRayne is like a baby's first step, reluctantly letting go and making an unstable effort to walk letting go of the blatant rip offs ("homages" on steroids) and finding its own style.
Uwe Boll's not there yet, but he's getting there one step at a time.
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