Directed by: Takanori Tsujimoto
Cast: Kevin Dorman, Matthew Mercer, Erin Cahill, John DeMita
I’ve seen every Resident Evil film released. The first two live action pictures were fun, as was the franchise wrap-up, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. Resident Evil: Degeneration was a solid animated film… It’s obvious that the Resident Evil series is a mixed bag, but it’s also obvious that more than a single filmmaker have found a way to make these movies entertaining. Especially Takanori Tsujimoto, who helms the latest, and (undeniably) one of the greatest Resident Evil flicks in existence, Resident Evil: Vendetta.
If you’re sitting back writing the film off because it happens to be an animated feature, reassess your stance and put your judgment aside until you’ve seen the film. You just might find yourself quite surprised by this beauty.
The story falls right in line with most other Resident Evil pics: A few heroes set out to bring an end to the mad rage of a driven villain – in this case, it’s Glenn Arias, who’s on a mission to obliterate New York with a deadly airborne virus. He’s got a valid reason to be filled with anger and hatred (I won’t mention his motives for fear of traveling too far into spoiler territory), and he’s got the physical skills and the mental fortitude to succeed in his maniacal plan of unleashing a vicious bioweapon in New York. Can Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy stop disaster?
One thing that Resident Evil always gives us is a great monster or so. They’re essentially “main bosses” on film, and the big bad beast from Vendetta is particularly impressive. We get two different phases from the monster, and they’re both quite impressive (I have no idea if this creature is encountered in the game, as I haven’t played a Resident Evil game since the old Playstation 1 days).
Vendetta also has a startlingly impressive ‘80s action/horror vibe. The film opens with a crew of soldiers entering a mansion that may look and feel familiar. Inside they encounter a horde of zombies and lives are lost while copious amounts of plasma paint the walls a horrific Rorschach. The only thing missing from this scene is Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Sly Stallone… or Jean-Claude Van Damme – that’s how throwback the full sequence feels. It’s glorious.
That underlying vintage tone permeates the film, and works as a pair of tremendous bookends (we travel from The Predator to Die Hard, basically) in particular, with the finale also summoning some strange but welcomed nostalgia. It’s a quality we haven’t seen from the animated films up until now, and it’s wildly endearing. The relentless action is also commendable – viewers have no chance at discovering boredom while watching this one.
Resident Evil: Vendetta is only eclipsed by a very select few films in the franchise. For my money, it’s one of the three best Resident Evil movies in existence, and it consistently reminds us that Paul W.S. Anderson really wasn’t the right man to helm the live action films. Most of those films lack the heart and soul that Vendetta has in spades, even if there are a few flaws to be found in this picture.
The next time you’re craving a return to the world of Resident Evil, skip the hokey sci-fi heavy flicks (which often feel like they have nothing in common with the genre, despite what should be an emphatic emphasis on the undead) that Anderson’s been pumping out for years, and instead give this near genius installment the chance it really deserves. You’re going to be surprised by how refined the flick is, and you’re going to love the well-balanced doses of action and horror.
The double-disc Blu-ray of Vendetta is a winner, through and through. It’s packed full of informative supplements, and a few of the featurettes are going to be very helpful for those who aren’t extremely familiar with the franchise.
We get a strong commentary track, a lot of solid still pics, some behind-the-scenes guides and full-on history lessons from the franchise. There’s a fun featurette that gets into the creation of one of the coolest villains we’ve seen in the Resident Evil universe, as well. As crazy as it may sound, there’s plenty more here to soak up. It’s a comprehensive disc, and if you’re a Resident Evil fan, or a fan of animated works, this is an absolute must-own package.