The original Blade was a demonstration of frenzied visual effects, a technological vampire bloodbath with no meaning or direction. Although the series is still very physical, emphasizing battle sequences and special effects over story and characters, Blade II knows where the first film went awry and does not repeat those mistakes. Instead of creating a dizzying collage of delinquent action sequences, this film focuses its excitement. It’s not all over the map; it actually knows where it’s headed and what it’s doing.
Exploding from the pages of Marvel Comics, Blade, born half-man, half vampire after a bloodsucker attacked his pregnant mother, vowed to protect humanity from the dark, secret world of evil vampires. Armed with an arsenal of lead and garlic, Blade continues to fight the never-ending war between the living and the undead.
However, this time around Blade isn’t killing vampires. There’s a new breed of terror lurking under city sewers and in the night’s dark shadows. Creatures with pale white skin and scabrous bald heads seek doom and destruction for everything, including other vampires. The vampires on the block don’t like this would like to kill these beasts, but they have no chance against the “reapers,” with their expanding mouths and venomous bite. Vampires who once trained to kill Blade now require his assistance to rid the world of this new breed of terror.
Wesley Snipes again depicts the title character with an amazing physical presence. Although in the first film his performance seemed self-congratulatory and boastful, in this movie his style and temperament feel right at home. The fight sequences are remarkably well choreographed. Even at very high speeds and with great physical complexity, director Guillermo del Toro’s camera and editing have no problem keeping up with the action. Del Toro, a Spanish horror maestro and lover of myths, creates a true sense of excitement within all the violence and gore. He does not open a freak show like Stephen Norrington did with the original Blade and his showers of blood; instead he grips the audience by the neck and pulls them into the center of the energy.
However, some of the action can defy logic. For instance, in an early scene, two dark figures sneak into Blade’s warehouse. Blade suspects these intruders and prepares his crew for battle. Instantly, the dark figures find themselves bombarded with machine gun fire, bright lights, swords, even Blade himself. The three engage in a vicious, potentially deadly battle. Then, as Blade prepares to kill one of them, they reveal that they do not want violence, but only want to deliver a message. Umm,.If they didn’t come to fight, why did they just have a fight? Why sneak into Blade’s warehouse in the first place? Why not politely knock on the door and deliver the message? Of course, this is a movie about action, not logic. It takes advantage of every opportunity to engage in an action sequence, even when it doesn’t make sense.
It’s all guilty pleasure, though. The film knows it’s a feeble comic book adventure—albeit a big, expensive one—and it has a lot of fun with the genre. It’s a blast sitting in a darkened theater and soaking up the dark, creepy atmosphere, the stunning special effects, the gruesome makeup effects, and the predictable story. Blade II is not a masterpiece of modern cinema, but as a comic book action movie, it’s pure escapism.
Review by Blake French © 2002 filmcritic.com