Eye For Film >> Movies >> Blood: The Last Vampire (2009) Film Review
Blood: The Last Vampire
Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson
Blood: The Last Vampire is a clumsy remake of an anime film from 2000. In translating the picture to live action it manages the rare achievement of making the dialogue more stilted and apparently dubbed, while vagaries of the production process have left it with anachronisms and references that make it seem even more unrealistic.
Gianna Jun is Saya, a monster-killing vampire working for a secretive agency called 'The Council'. We first see her in action on Tokyo's subway, taking out a creature who was reading a newspaper. "American Bombers Ravish North Vietnam", blares the headline. It's assumed they mean 'ravage', but it's clear enough - this is 1970, the Vietnam war is in its closing stages, and B-52s are allegedly staging from Japan as Nixon tries to bomb his way to the negotiating table. That's relying on your background knowledge, of course - none of this is mentioned.
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The original Blood was set in Japan before the Vietnam war, but in order to update the plot they've moved the film forward in time. According to early press reports, it was to be set in MacArthur's post-war Japan, but that's clearly fallen by the wayside. Sadly, so has a lot else.
That update is the inclusion of Alice, an Air Force General's daughter played by Allison Miller. She is saddled with awful dialogue; "Saya, promise me you'll always believe in yourself" is not the worst of it. The worst of it is that her lines appear divorced from context, but often so does her performance. It really isn't clear what she's doing in the film, other than getting shunted about in fights and nearly getting eaten by demons.
Then there's her father, played by Larry Lamb of Eastenders and Gavin & Stacy. He growls and chews the scenery as he tries to find out what some secretive men claiming to be CIA are doing on his base. They've got mysterious briefcases that contain magic cleaning gear, but they appear to have been developed for Men In Black. One of General Mckee's underlings steals a case from the boot of the strange men's car, which is a dainty little Peugeot. What that's doing in Japan is probably down to the fact that this was shot in France and Argentina, rather than it having been on an Asian adventure via Indochina.
The airbase where much of the action takes place is Argentinian, at least one assumes so because though Mount Fuji has been hazily composited into the background the F-16s and C-130s we see on the field belong to their Air Force, and more importantly come from quite some time in the 'future'. There's the business of a one-star Air Force General commanding a major foreign base, and, well, there's lots of bits of silliness. There's a moment in the High School on the American Air Base where the kids are listening to Chuck Berry in the halls. There's a dizzying Tarantino metatextual frisson, but it doesn't last and is too incongruous.
Chris Chow's script makes it seem as if whole scenes have been left out. His only previous scripts are The Eye 3 and Jet Li vehicle Fearless, neither of which are as clumsy as this. Director Chris Nahon previously worked with Jet Li too, on Kiss Of The Dragon.
Council agents Michael and Luke, Liam Cunningham and JJ Feild are pretty good. As ancient demon Onegin, Koyuki (seen in The Last Samurai and 2007's Genghis Khan) has the right imperious hauteur, and that's about it. Gianna Jun does her best, but there's only so much emotion one can put into drinking blood from a minibar fridge.
The effects aren't too bad. There's some wire work, some shiny sword fights, but many of the sequences take place in the dark or in the rain, and that's before the influence of other action movies shot in obscur-o-vision and confus-a-scope. Throw in blood effects that look like raspberry jam, and a generally washed out colour palette and it's not much to look at at all. Then there's the music. Edwin Starr's War makes an appearance, but a few tracks aside the score is by Clint Mansell, whose work can also be encountered in the vastly superior Moon.
Blood has spawned a 50-episode series, Blood+, some novels, and now this live-action remake. Unless you are a die-hard fan or a completist, you're better off watching the original anime, or avoiding this altogether.Reviewed on: 29 Jun 2009