Blood: The Last Vampire can be considered both a sequel and prequel to the superior anime of the same title. Blood follows Saya, a demon-hunting vampire bent on a mission of vengeance. In this 2009 follow-up, we are treated to a deeper history for Saya as we learn the reasons for her vengeance-seeking. In the original, we’re shown none of this except a flashy visceral ride that seems to finish an hour before it was intended to. The 2009 entry seeks to finish what the original started, albeit being atrociously written with laughable CG and cool action sequences.
The film starts off very strong with a grim, well-paced opening, caked in promising atmosphere. However, the intrigue drops dead the moment the title is stamped on the screen. Trailing afterward is an onslaught of terrible acting and relentless, eventually tiresome action scenes filled with less than amateur CG. The design of the demons is pathetic at worst, unimaginative at best. The comical amount of blood looks like chunky oil and spurts out in goopy bursts. At first, I thought this was just demon blood. It turns out humans bleed the same way.
Attempting way too hard to be cool, the film takes itself far too seriously while adopting every predictable one-liner from the textbook of lone-badass action heroes. Gianna, who apparently doesn’t require a last name, plays Saya. She certainly looks the part and is convincing while she’s swinging a katana blade. Her lines, copied word for word from the aforementioned textbook, are delivered stale on arrival. But I wouldn't blame her so much as the script and fact that she is neither a native Japanese or English speaker. She delivered a heartfelt and aggressive performance in one of my all time critically acclaimed favorites My Sassy Girl. So, I know her to be an absolutely capable actress. Fortunately, being the hero of the film, she is the strongest of the cast.
Cory Yuen, legendary action director, takes the reins for the extensive fight scenes. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that Yuen is the shining point of the film with Gianna as his loyal puppet. Since little else is very good at all, I would feel disingenuous in recommending anyone check this out for the action alone.
Blood’s story is dreadfully unoriginal, offering virtually nothing new to the genre. Flashbacks of Saya’s upbringing are about as profound as a '70s kung fu flick. The plot soon moves to a school near Yokota Air Base where the story of our lonely outsider, Saya, would have been a welcome and endearing factor in character development. The filmmakers opted out in favor of forced unreasonable teasing that would have been appropriate in a 20-year-old horror film set around an upper middle class suburban high school.
Canned character conflicts aside, the director of photography must have felt like Michael Jordan on a court full of fat soccer moms. The cinematography is top notch, accompanied by gorgeous lighting that lifts even the darker scenes into an exciting array of colors. The outside scenes at the school are blanketed in a warm golden hue. Night scenes pop with vivid neon lighting. And the flashbacks are bright with a soft bloom.
Other than great cinematography, lighting, music, and action, this film is a complete failure in every regard. I could only recommend this to the Blood diehards desperate to know how Saya’s story ends and how it began. Even so, it’s so bad I doubt the fans would even consider it canon.
Presented in 1080p with a 2.35:1 frame, Blood: the Last Vampire exudes excellent color saturation that pops through a dominantly dark feature. The blacks, likewise, are solid and thick. The only flaw would be an often soft picture due to some contrast crush washing out the detail. However, this could be argued as aesthetic choice. A praiseworthy transfer.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack pounds with every punch, kick, and sword slash. This is undoubtedly one of the better sounding Blu-rays on the market. The surrounds are saturated liberally with atmospheric noise and if you can ignore the awful story and acting, this masterful soundscape should absorb you. The score is equally as impressive in its own right, but made all the more powerful by this exceptional offering.
This technically superb disc, unfortunately, is bare bones in its supplemental features. There’s a boring making-of featurette in all of its beautiful standard definition splendor. Yay. Also included is another standard definition "Behind the Stunts" featurette with Cory Yuen leading most of this feature. And that’s pretty much it unless you consider a storyboard gallery all that enthralling.
Though a technically outstanding Blu-ray, Blood: the Last Vampire is unquestionably awful and only serves as a demo disc for your home theater system. Diehards, enter at your own risk.
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