Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Superhero Media: Blade II

Before I get too much into this film, I kind of have to do a bit more waffling about how the Blade series relates to Vampire: The Masquerade, especially the Bloodpack, a team of Vampire special forces soldiers trained to take out Blade. The comparison to a VtM "Archon" Coterie is pretty hard to ignore, to the point where I can identify which Clan each character belongs to; watch me nerd, nerds. Asad (Danny John-Jules) is a Camarilla (Ivory Tower) Assamite. Chupa, the guy in the chain shirt, is a Ganrel (hairy, more obvious fangs and anachronistic gear). Lighthammer (carries a big hammer) is probably a Brujha, what with his incredible strength. Priest (bad hair and sunglasses) is clearly a Ventrue because of his rant about "Purebloods", plus his arrogance gets him killed. Reinhardt (Hellboy) is likely another Brujha, because his anger gets him killed and he seems to be using the Presence ability "Awe" in a couple of scenes. Snowman (did you realise that this is Donnie Yen? I sure didn't!) is Toreador whose "art" is all about traditional swordplay. Verlaine (readhead) is likely another Brujha due to her relationship with Lighthammer, but because of that relationship, I get an Anarch vibe from them. Rant over, back to the review.

Following on several years from the previous film, Blade is in Prague, looking for Whistler and hunting vampires with the help of the less coherent brother from Boondock Saints. Shortly after rescuing the best character in the franchise, the team are confronted by the Bloodpack and asked to help find Nomak, a recently-discovered "Super-Vampire" who feeds only on other Vampires. Blade teams up with the Bloodpack, an "enemy of my enemy" situation, and they take on a pack of Super-Vampires that attack a Vampire nightclub. After losing several team members, they discover that silver and garlic have no effect and they have to resort to sunlight (in the form of UV torches), which makes the Vampires not terribly happy. Whistler is acting strange, the Boondock Saint doesn't trust him and everyone is seconds away from killing each other, but after a nasty autopsy scene, they realise the Super-Vampires are capable of reproducing exponentially and will overwhelm the planet within a year. 

Turns out Boondock Saint is the traitor and that Blade and Whistler have been playing everyone. Nomak was created by the Vampire Nation as an attempt to duplicate Blade, then Blade drinks some blood and wins the day by killing every Vampire in the place. Where Blade is shockingly grounded and real-looking, Blade II has a lot more style and over-the-top design that goes with a del Toro production. Although they're ridiculous, the Bloodpack have great individual looks, probably being close to how every VtM player pictures their character (though my most successful character wore a polo shirt and khaki slacks). The Blade/Nomak fight is one off my all-time favourite superhero fights, it's brutal, with bones breaking as two super-strong foes beat each other senseless. A bone-crunching moment where Nomak regenerates a broken arm gives me a good cringe every time, and it's followed up with a monster "people's elbow" from the roof.

There are more fantasy elements in Blade II when compared to the original, but it feels like a natural progression, with Blade having defeated a literal god in the conclusion of the original, where else was there to go? If I had to choose, I'd say I prefer Blade II, but the Bloodpack and Whistler arguing with a Boondock Saint are a big selling point of that, rather than an overall 'quality' of any measure. It's fun and I like that it's fun and that's enough sometimes. I do think that the Blade series doesn't get better from here, Blade II was about as far as the concept could really go, even introducing Dracula in Blade Trinity wouldn't work (as we'll see shortly) and it was the only thing left, because folding Blade into a Marvel Shared Universe really wasn't an option at the time. We owe the Blade series a lot, and I think it doesn't get much appreciation, but there is a reason it's been forgotten and is more closely linked with the Underworld series than it is with X-Men or Spider-Man. Bring back Blade for a Marvel Studios MI-13 I say! 

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