Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Inbred: "The Breed" (2001)

Capable cast and really cool art direction are negated by wrongheaded script and more than a nod to John Woo.

Set in the near future, "The Breed" opens with NSA agent Steve Grant (Bokeem Woodbine) investigating a girl's disappearance with his luckless partner. The girl is found, dead, and a bald man with a hat attacks Grant and kills his partner. Of course, the bald guy climbs a wall after biting the partner's neck. Vampirism may be involved.

Grant finds out vampires are really just genetic mutations who want to be integrated into human society. I don't know why, since this futuristic society is a mixture of Nazi Europe and "1984." A vampire cop, Aaron Gray (Adrian Paul), is assigned to work with Grant to find the killer, generating a typical serial killer film investigation. Grant falls for vampire Lucy Westenra (Bai Ling), as the two find out who the real killer is, and the entire reasoning behind the crimes.

"The Breed" is one frustrating film. The Budapest, Hungary locations are astonishing. I could feel the cold, all the buildings are crumbling, and not a beam of sunshine is evident. Roy Hay's heavy techno music is more than appropriate, coming in at all the right times. Oblowitz's direction is good, although I saw a lot of "The Matrix" in the action scenes. Cool guys with long coats levitating in the air while shooting two guns simultaneously is getting a little old, until the "The Matrix" sequels arrive.

On the other hand, Woodbine, who was so good in "Jason's Lyric," is hampered with a lousy character. Grant should be hard boiled and tough, instead he is given a part that seems to have been written for Martin Lawrence or Chris Tucker. He is also the lousiest shot in cinematic history, as his action scenes become style over substance. After you get over the fact that Adrian Paul looks just like John Waters, his Gray is very restrained and very well done. Likewise with Lucy, although her character (femme fatale who knows more than she lets on) has been done a thousand times before. The film makers also make a fatal mistake, since the viewer will identify the killer immediately, ending the suspense in that subplot.

Technically incredible, but academically a failure, "The Breed" is pretty to look at, and a completely unchallenging film. It falls right in the middle, which is a shame. (* * *) out of five stars.