Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Stephen Norrington
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson
What happens when Deacon Frost goes insane with power, betrays the vampire council and sacrifices every one of them so that he might become fused with the power of the Blood God? He pisses Blade off to a staggering degree, a war ensues and Frost gets his dirty business pushed in, that’s what happens. Of course, the great and powerful Blade is forced through a gamut of obstacles en route to that final showdown, including an atypical bid to save a stranger who has been bitten and a fight to keep his right hand man and longtime life mentor, Whistler from being turned into a vampire meal. Not every scenario ends in Blade’s favor, but as is expected, and as has been mentioned, ultimately, the sword wielding vampire killer is indeed victorious in preventing a vampire takeover.
I’m a fan of the Blade franchise, despite the fact that none of the pics are genuinely amazing. Stephen Norrington’s inaugural film is riddled with hokey dialogue and a couple of seemingly irrelevant characters, but the action is heavy, the gore is damn respectable and the opening scene – a look at a massive secret rave hosted by hundreds of vampires – is absolutely top notch and completely engaging. Even if the film sputters at times, the opener will likely prove strong enough to keep your attention invested in the film for its full 120 minute duration.
By the way, I’ll openly concede that two hours was about 30 minutes too long for this film. A number of edits could have been made in order to smooth this one out and improve the pacing. That said, it doesn’t feel terribly long, just a bit too stretched out.
Snipes makes for a fine antihero/hero/rebel daywalker. He’s always been well suited for action, and to see him thrust into the lead role of an action/horror hybrid was gratifying, and a clear case of very logical casting. Realistically, who could have better portrayed the destructor of suckheads? Very few, I venture to say. Kris Kristofferson is absolutely amazing as Whistler, easily the most likeable figure in the film beyond Blade himself. N’Bushe Wright, Donal Logue and the super sexy Sanaa Lathan all make for impressive support. The only cast member who disappoints is – sadly – Stephen Dorff, who is so far from intimidating as Deacon Frost it’s almost laughable. And trust me, as a fan of Dorff’s work, I hate to admit that. But it’s true. If you need an idea of what a truly terrifying villain looks like in Blade’s world, look at Blade II’s Nomac. Now that’s one scary SOB.
Ultimately, it is great to see a Marvel character brought to the big screen in all his true, original savagery. There are no major spins on the story in order to fit it into a PG-13 rating, which most of us anticipated back in 1998. Kudos to Marvel for having the guts to give fans a relatively accurate portrayal of one of their more polarizing comic leads. I can’t call the first Blade film astounding, but it is a highly entertaining flick aimed at the legions of guys oozing testosterone out of every orifice. Watch it, with beer and garlic doused popcorn.