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  Blade II The New Breed
Year: 2002
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman, Leonor Valera, Norman Reedus, Thomas Kretschmann, Luke Goss, Matt Schulze, Danny John-Jules, Donnie Yen, Karel Roden, Marit Velle Kile, Tony Curran, Daz Crawford, Santiago Segura, Samuel Le, Marek Vasut
Genre: Horror, Action, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Night time in Prague, and there's a blood bank in the city which offers money, which is an attraction for the impoverished especially with no limit on how much is allowed to be donated. One individual seeking to make an impression is Jared Nomak (Luke Goss), who is taken into a chamber round the back of the building by the nurse who claims from his sample that his blood is very unusual. Before he knows what is happening, Nomak is being held down in a chair and about to be drained by the vampires who actually run the bank when he starts laughing: the reason he is not like others is down to his constitution, a new kind of bloodsucker, one who actually dines on vampires and turns them into this super strain like he is...

Which will be of great interest to Blade (Wesley Snipes), here making a return to the big screen after his first outing was a hit, the first real Marvel movie to kick off the long-running "universe" of cinematic endeavours, though he still stood alone as far as potential crossovers went. Returning was David S. Goyer, soon to be revitalising the Batman franchise for Christopher Nolan, but what made this more significant for horror fans was the presence of Guillermo del Toro calling the shots behind the camera, having already marked himself out as a talent to watch and by this stage finally getting the hang of Hollywood away from his cultier Mexican chillers. In this case he crafted what was generally regarded as the best entry in the trilogy, the first one regarded as good, but this sequel better.

The character of Blade had made his debut in support to the cast of vampires and vampire killers in Marvel's Tomb of Dracula comic books of the nineteen-seventies, and both writer and director were keen to render this reminiscent of that source, which to an extent they succeeded in; we're used to seeing comic adaptations stage their action just so and represent their backstory in a style demanding the audience be accepting of a certain mythology that they either learned about from the media surrounding these productions or by paying attention to the film in hand. The Blade movies were little different, so whereas something like Star Wars established its continuity after the first effort, the comic books had decades of plot to draw from and ground themselves with.

Therefore you could view this trilogy as a "Year Zero" for how the comics would be approached from then on, yet as all that had not quite gotten as self-referential as it would become, you could still appreciate them on their own terms, and aside from bringing Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) back for part two, you didn't particularly need to have seen a whole bunch of other works to keep up to speed, which was to its advantage, if not to the advantage of Marvel who increasingly began to count on its audience having caught each instalment of an ongoing tale, or set of tales. Against the odds when there's a studio so jealously guarding their property, del Toro managed to put one of his more personal stamps onto the material, and not simply because his old pal Ron Perlman was cast as one of the vampires Blade tussles with.

It was assuredly the most interesting cast for a movie in this series, so much so that Snipes often felt like a supporting character in his own film, so far was the jostling for attention between his fellow actors apparent. At least we had him trading barbs with Perlman, something to relish, though we also had Norman Reedus of TV's The Walking Dead fame as Blade's latest sidekick, Leonor Valera as Nyssa, a vampire who seeks our hero's help against the virus spread by Nomak among her kind, Danny John-Jules from TV's Red Dwarf as one of her fanged underlings, Donnie Yen as a silent vampire on Nyssa's team for a "what's he doing here?" moment to ponder, and so forth. Fair enough, the Hong Kong cinema-inspired combat setpieces may look much of a muchness now we've seen so many of them in Hollywood action flicks, but del Toro did offer scenes very much his own, such as the autopsy on one of the new breed which reveals it'll be difficult to stake when its heart is encased in bone. Fairly influential for a sequel, then, and more accessible than the Underworld movies. Music by Marco Beltrami.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Guillermo del Toro  (1964 - )

Stylish Mexican horror director who moves between personal projects and Hollywood blockbusters. After a couple of short films, he earned international attention with unusual vampire chiller Cronos. Mimic was an artistically disappointing follow up, but he enjoyed success with vampire action sequel Blade II, spooky ghost story The Devil's Backbone, and another horror comic adaptation, Hellboy. Spanish Civil War fantasy Pan's Labyrinth was widely seen as a triumph and won three Oscars. After a long spell in production hell since Hellboy II, he returned with giant monster mash Pacific Rim and gothic chiller Crimson Peak. The Shape of Water, an unconventional horror romance, garnered him Oscars.

 
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