Earlier this week we looked at Hellboy, a movie directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Ron Perlman. These two actually work together on a lot of films due to their particularly strong friendship. As this season of The Witching Hour draws to a close I thought we might look at another film directed by del Toro and featuring Perlman – albeit this time he is cast as a villain. That film is of course, Blade II.
To be completely fair, I have never read any of the Blade comic books and I have no idea if they are any good. I am evaluating this movie entirely on its own merits. With that said, I do think that Blade II is the best film of that trilogy.
The film begins with a seemingly homeless man named Jared Nomak who visits what is thought to be a blood bank in Prague. The place is actually run by vampires and Nomak has a particularly unique phenotype in his blood that they wish to study. They strap him down on a table and prepare to extract his blood when Nomak suddenly frees himself and easily kills all of the vampires in the room. Before killing the last bloodsucker he looks directly into the security camera and shouts his hatred for vampires. It is a nice parallel – a creature that is not what it appears to be attacks a place that also hides its real purpose.
Meanwhile, Blade (played by Wesley Snipes) searching for his old friend, Whistler (Kris Kristofferson). We had thought that Whistler had died in the previous film but the demands of a sequel require a bit of retconning so now he has been turned into a vampire and is constantly being moved throughout a network of safe houses. He chases down a gang of vampires and intimidates one of them into telling him where Whistler is. That is a recurring theme throughout these movies; vampires are terrified of Blade even when they significantly outnumber him. I do have to address the “dusting” effect seen when vampires are killed. The first movie used effects that seemed to be a rip-off of the ones used in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In Blade II they are more fiery and look much nicer but they are still clearly inspired by Buffy.
Blade takes Whistler back to his base and does some kind of miracle detox to cure his friend of vampirism (who knew it would be so easy)? As Whistler gets acquainted with Blade’s newest partner, Scud, two vampires infiltrate the base to give Blade a message. The ruling vampire clan wishes to call a truce and requests Blade’s assistance to deal with Nomak and the new breed of monster he is siring – Reapers. Think of Reapers as uber vampires. They are stronger, faster and have a thick bone shield over their hearts which makes killing them very difficult. The deal is that Blade would lead the Blood Pack – an elite group of vampire warriors who have trained for the last two years to kill him.
The story doesn’t end there though but I don’t want to spoil the plot twist for you. Blade II is a curious sort of vampire film. The Reapers seem to be a bit too much but consider the time period this movie was made. In 2002 Buffy and its spin-off show, Angel were still on the air. Vampire: The Masquerade had enjoyed a run of popularity. Vampires had been the “in thing” for a while and something was needed to make the concept feel fresh.
If I have to criticize anything about the movie, it would be that Blade himself is a flat character. He has no story arc to his character. He is there to kill vampires and look cool doing it. There are so many unique characters in this film that Blade just seems a bit dull.
Don’t let that stop you, though. Blade II is an enjoyable romp for vampire fans and it is worth checking out when you need a horror fix.