Saturday, September 10, 2011

Yuk! Ouch! Cool! Yuk! Ouch! Cool!: "Blade II" (2002)

Wesley Snipes returns in this really gross and really exciting sequel to the original hit.

Blade (Wesley Snipes) is still out killing vampires, this time armed with better special effects. He is tracking down his mentor Whistler (Kris Kristofferson, the most grizzled man on the planet), who was taken by the vampires and held hostage. In the meantime, Blade has picked up a new weapons master, Scud (Norman Reedus, who looks a lot like Henry Thomas). Whistler is rescued, and he and Scud immediately do not get along.

The vampires Blade is always trying to kill want a truce. It seems there is a new race of vampires, called Reapers, led by the very ugly Nomak (Luke Goss). The Reapers are killing ordinary vampires, and once that supply is gone, they will turn to humanity for their prey. Blade is saddled with a group of mercenaries called the Blood Pact, who were originally trained to kill him. It features angry Reinhardt (the always excellent Ron Perlman) and the sexy Nyssa (Leonor Varela), daughter of the vampire leader Damaskinos (Thomas Kretschmann).

The plot really becomes secondary as Blade and the group infiltrate an underground hangout for vampires, and do bloody battle with the Reapers. This leads to a very long battle in the sewers where the Reapers congregate, and finally to the vampire headquarters, where double crosses and switched allegiances are ultimately uncovered.

This sequel can be described in one word: gross. I have not seen this much bodily fluid on display since my lactose intolerant toddler feasted on an ice cream cone. I am not talking a lot of fake blood, I am talking a lot of fake everything shown in graphic detail. The film is wall to wall violent, an almost two hour action sequence broken up into three or four main components.

Do you know what? The whole thing works. The special effects are strong, save for a couple of obvious computer animated fight sequences. The gore is excellent, from the Reapers' frightening mouths to the gallons of gore to the grossest autopsy of the last ten years. The film makers wisely just do not remake the first film, they expand on it. All the actors are good, making an impression despite the plethora of eye candy going on around them. Even the actors who are completely unrecognizable under the makeup (Goss, Kretschmann) still score some good scenes.

Del Toro is the perfect director for the sequel, he shoots it like he has been practicing for this for years. The film certainly never bores, moving faster than anything George Lucas has been able to come up with since "Return of the Jedi."

The couple of weak computer effects hurt. So does yet another villain who confesses everything before being killed in a very creative way. I won't give away any of the double crosses, but you do see them coming from a mile away.

All in all, "Blade II" is really neat. The action is nonstop, a forced romance is merely hinted at, and Snipes can kick ass with the best of them. If a third movie is in the making, I'm ready. This is the film that give sequels a good name. (* * * *) out of five stars.