Blade 2

Rated: R
Runtime: 1 Hour and 45 Minutes

Reviewer: Dale
Grade: B

The original "Blade" was one of those great movies that you don't expect anything special out of, and then it comes along and just kicks your ass by being better than it has any reasonable right to be. It had the blast of being something new and totally unique. It had elements of a thriller, a horror film, an action movie and elements of drama as well. It was tightly made, it moved with fleet feet, and it was pumped with adrenaline.

"Blade 2" isn't quite as good as the first one was. This time we expect what we got last time. It doesn't have that blast of being new and fresh. But, I have to admit, the film does thrum with adrenaline and a surprising amount of originality.

Unlike most sequels, which simply regurgitate the ideas and action sequences wholesale from the first film (not so much an extension of the first film as a retread), "Blade 2" actually takes the first film and gives it a sly twist. You see, this time there are a new strain of vampires which are even ickier than the usual bunch. They are known as the Reapers and they are virtually unstoppable beasties with mouths that reminded me of a vagina crossed with the mouth of the creature in "Alien". Unlike the average vampire, the Reapers suck on not only humans but other vampires. I don't think they even mind taking a bite out of other Reapers.

Worried that this new batch is going to wipe them out, the Vampire Nation (that always makes me think of the title of a Janet Jackson album) strikes a truce with Blade, who has spent the past several years wiping out every vampire to cross his path. Blade will ally with a group of vampire assassins known as the Blood Pack. The Blood Pack, incidentally, has spent the past couple years training to annihilate Blade himself. This makes for an uneasy relationship with each side worried about the other double-crossing them. Neither side seems to worry yet about what will happen after they have accomplished their goal. Will the truce continue? Will one side be dead meat? Or what?

The notion of Blade having to work with the vampires is an ingenious one. It raises the tension and also provides some nice moments of humor. I particularly liked the uneasy relationship between Blade and Reinhardt, the leader of the Blood Pack. Ron Perlman is a delight to watch as Reinhardt, who seems always on the alert for a way to screw Blade over. Wesley Snipes also fills the role of Blade a little more comfortably than he did last time. He seems to have grown accustomed to the man's shoes. It might just be me, but I think he's a lot less stiff than he was the first time around. He still swaggers around like a black Clint Eastwood for the most part, but he does make the role his own with some subtle touches that are sometimes humorous. It's also nice to have the sub-plot where he finds himself falling for a vampire woman (Leanor Varela, who is a little wooden in the role), despite himself.

It's also great fun to have Kris Kristofferson back on hand, even though he was thought to have died in the first film. The way they bring him back works well, even though the film navigates around any mention of side effects from the things he has been through. (What's the deal here, anyway?) But no matter, it's great to hear this wonderful character actor wrap his scratchy voice around some of the toughest lines this side of an Eastwood flick. He's a joy to watch.

One of the few problems I had with this film was the action sequences. They're pretty impressive for a while. But we've seen too many martial arts fight by now. They've lost a lot of their freshness. They're pretty standard by now, really. And they tend to go on for a bit too long. Some of the fights are completely pointless (such as the one where some people infiltrate Blade's lair to enlist his help, yet still engage in several minutes of hand to hand combat) and some of them employ ridiculous WWF style moves.

But that's only a minor complaint. The plot is very good. The dialogue often crackles. And the acting is uniformly impressive. Though the villains also could have been a lot tougher. In my opinion, their weakness was located just a little too easily and just a little too soon. But no matter. Despite its flaws, "Blade 2" is still pretty damn entertaining.