She's Half Vampire, But She's A Slayer At Heart

Gianna Jun as Saya in 'Blood: The Last Vampire' i i

A human-vampire "halfling," Saya (Gianna Jun) goes to Tokyo to avenge her father and kill the bloodsucker king. Samuel Goldwyn Films hide caption

itoggle caption Samuel Goldwyn Films
Gianna Jun as Saya in 'Blood: The Last Vampire'

A human-vampire "halfling," Saya (Gianna Jun) goes to Tokyo to avenge her father and kill the bloodsucker king.

Samuel Goldwyn Films

Blood: The Last Vampire

  • Director: Chris Nahon
  • Genre: Horror Thriller
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

Rated R: Strong bloody stylized violence

With: Gianna, Allison Miller, Liam Cunningham, Koyuki

Gianna and Yasuaki Kurata in 'Blood: The Last Vampire' i i

Yasuaki Kurata (right) plays Saya's father Kato, whose slaying (shown in flashback) sparks her campaign to destroy Onigen. Samuel Goldwyn Films hide caption

itoggle caption Samuel Goldwyn Films
Gianna and Yasuaki Kurata in 'Blood: The Last Vampire'

Yasuaki Kurata (right) plays Saya's father Kato, whose slaying (shown in flashback) sparks her campaign to destroy Onigen.

Samuel Goldwyn Films

Blood: The Last Vampire promises a night of simple, nasty pleasures: Who doesn't want to watch a Japanese schoolgirl slice vampires in half with a samurai sword?

Unfortunately for those who relish such eternal delights, the first, but by no means only problem with the movie is that you can't really see it.

Whether to mask the shoddy special effects or due to some misbegotten bid for noir moodiness, this muddled bore has the visual consistency of the rust-brown CGI blood that gushes after the many dismemberments and decapitations doled out by our heroine.

Her name is Saya (the actress known as Gianna), born to a human father and a vampire mother and hell-bent on slaying Onigen, the king bloodsucker. The action unfolds in and around an American military base in Tokyo during the height of the Vietnam War — a context established less for any political resonance than to enable an audience surrogate in the form of a bird-brained Army brat (Allison Miller), whose role is to run around screaming and get saved by Saya.

The drama — I use the word loosely — is as lugubrious as the style. Though they're largely performing in English (with some dialogue in Japanese), everyone unloads their fantasy-flick boilerplate in a stilted, displaced tone that suggests a movie dubbed from another language.

Blood has been adapted from a far more involving and poetic anime from 2000, but it plays more like a bottom-feeding pastiche of the Blade and Matrix trilogies mixed up with Hong Kong wuxia films and a dash of Jeepers Creepers. Director Chris Nahon, a Frenchman with a TV-commercial and music-video background, never met a visual idea he didn't fumble or an emotional detail he couldn't care less about.

He's backed up, to no avail, by some proven talents. Cinematographer Poon Hang Sang has shot some of the giddiest pop fantasias of the past two decades (Peking Opera Blues, Kung Fu Hustle), while co-producer Bill Kong oversaw such spry, efficient entertainments as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers.

Blood: The Last Vampire, by contrast, is weighed down by its plodding mediocrity. The movie comes alive precisely once, in a flashback recounting the ninja onslaught that befell Saya's father. Set in a forest clearing, the scene pierces the pervasive gloom with some dusty shafts of sunlight that allow stunt choreographer Corey Yuen to flaunt his stuff.

It's appropriate that the past should be remembered with such clarity: By that point, the audience will likely be turning to its own memories of sharper thrills.

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