City Paper is not for tourists
Ever wish for a cinematic slushie of Kill Bill, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and the cheesiest vampire movie ever made? Welcome to Blood: The Last Vampire, the second feature-length adaptation of an animé series of the same name. For the unfamiliar, a crawl informs us of a “savage war” that took place in 16th-century Japan during which the “oldest, vilest vampire” named Onigen made life miserable. Cut to 1970 Toyko, where Saya (Gianna Jun), a young half-human, half-bloodsucker girl, is slashing people’s faces in half when she’s not enduring taunts at a school for American Army brats. Her mission is to kill Onigen (Koyuki). Your mission is to cringe at the violence, admire some cinematography, and ignore the terrible acting while keeping in mind that considering the source material, the film could be worse. Saya quickly befriends Alice (Allison Miller), daughter of General Mckee (an awful Larry Lamb) and apparently random target of her fencing teacher and some sneering classmates, who are really demons. Alice, who catches onto the game all too quickly, spends the rest of the film by Saya’s side, once even saving her with her own blood “because it was the right thing to do.” That’s about as much story as scripter Chris Chow (Jet Li’s Fearless) offers, unless you count Saya’s recount of her history, which really is just an excuse for a long, kung-fu-in-the-forest tangent. (On the plus side, the scene has ninjas.) Otherwise, it’s all filmic retread: schoolgirls swordfighting, Asians leap-flying through trees, “You Never Can Tell” on the soundtrack—which seems as out of place as “Space Truckin’,” though at least the former was actually released prior to 1970. Lots of people get gruesomely (if cartoonishly) sliced, their slo-mo-splayed blood looking more like mini red-brown blocks than crimson fluid. The final showdown between Saya and Onigen is the most stylishly photographed, taking place in a bleached, ash-tinged alt-universe. The look of it all is nearly enough to recommend the film. But then a giant, completely illogical explosion ensues, and you pray that the film’s title precludes the possibility of a sequel.