Last Level Press

Film Review: Blood: The Last Vampire

Reviewer: Olen Bjorgo

Long ago in Japan there was a war with demons. A brave samurai who fought the demons was slain by an ancient and ferocious demon called Onigen. The Council, an enigmatic organization bent on hunting these creatures, has a secret weapon in their war: a young woman with a katana named Saya. And best of all, it takes place in 1970s Tokyo. Blood: The Last Vampire is the live-adaptation of the 2000 anime film of the same name; trust me when I say that the plot is nothing beyond this.

You know how the word “Saya” refers to a katana’s scabbard? Well, you do now.

Now, apply Japan’s love of phallic symbolism to our heroine, and…

The film has a few shining moments, but it’s far outweighed by how bad it looks throughout. The locations are probably some of the best visuals of the whole film, with much of the movie taking place on a US Air Force base and the immediate city areas, and changes only towards the end when there’s a shift to rural outskirts. Beyond that, it’s just atrocious. The film is CGI heavy, especially in areas where it really doesn’t need to be, such as using CGI blood dripping from mouths instead of fake blood. The vampiric monsters are perhaps the worst offenders because they look bad in CGI, even by the standards of 2009, and not even in old-fashioned practical effects do they look good. The blood that sprays from each of Saya’s victims looks more like watered down jam than what it should look like. The focus of the whole movie tends to be on the flashy fights, but they’re predominately forgettable despite how well they’re shot and choreographed.

The soundtrack is uninspired. There are a few songs from the era, which helps build an atmosphere for the film, but the rest is comprised mostly of the generic monster action movie sounds: there are build ups before some lone person is attacked, drums are in heavy use to create long and deep beats, it’s all mediocre. However, there’s never anything that’s too over the top, nothing jarring or out of place, and it’s not an abomination or hurtful on the ears. It’s not exactly high praise, since you could say the same of an obnoxious child you babysit regularly only to find that they’re quiet and well-behaved one night.

“I’ll just show myself to the time-out corner.”

Even though the plot is still simple enough, it can feel convoluted at times or even outright not explain things. For example, Onigen has a servant who looks all cool and intimidating, yet I couldn’t tell you what his name was because I don’t know if they ever said it. Another is that I couldn’t tell you anything more about the Council than I have already said in the beginning: there’s enigmatic and then there’s “we exist, but play a minimal role in the entire movie despite being important.” And then there’s Alice, the young teenage daughter of a general, who is essentially a token white girl who serves no meaningful purpose in the narrative, and was probably included so that the film wasn’t overwhelmingly Asian in Japan. The only character we even care about is Saya, and even then she’s lacking personality outside of the barest minimum required for a protagonist.

And for those wondering, no, the same can’t be said for her clothing.

Can’t win for losing, can we?

The acting straddles the line between dull and bad, which is a shame because some of the more noteworthy actors are not that bad. Saya, played by South Korean actress Gianna Jun, was lacking in emotion outside of bloodlust and anger and, unfortunately, I haven’t seen anything else that Gianna has done. I say unfortunately because I feel that perhaps the language barrier might have limited her and the fact that she is quite a name throughout Asia. Alice McKee, played by American actress Allison Miller (Terra Nova, Go On), feels like one of the more competent actors, but her character, as mentioned, feels tacked on and useless outside of doing anything except being a force that progresses the plot to the next point. It certainly doesn’t help that some line deliveries sound forced, she mostly shrieks, and everything is crushed with the last lines she gives for the movie. And our big bad guy, the surprisingly attractive Onigen, is played by Japanese actress Koyuki (The Last Samurai). Perhaps giving the best performance, it’s a shame that she is seen so little, and when we finally see her in action as the antagonist, it falls so flat and just feels weak.

Beyond some flashy and well-shot fights, Blood: The Last Vampire really has nothing going for it. If it was a direct-to-video release and about fifteen minutes shorter, this film might have been somewhat more tolerable if not still the same quality overall. By the halfway point you might begin to lose interest like I did because it just feels boring, and looks fake even with suspended disbelief. If you were a fan of the original film this was based on, you won’t enjoy this. If you want flashy fight sequences, you could do better since you’re settling with generic rather than name brand, but it’ll do what you want. If you enjoy vampires you might like this just because it’s not the traditional sort of vampire, nor is it a Twilight-esque reimagining of them. In the end I honestly can’t recommend this unless maybe you want to start a bad movie marathon on Halloween.

Rating: 3.2

Visuals: 3
Audio: 4
Narrative: 3
Acting: 4
Atmosphere & Experience: 2

In which case, this may be a good place to start if you feel like you need to ease

Into Twilight.  Baby steps, kids.

  Director: Chris Nahon

  Producer: Ronny Yu

  Studio: Edko/ Pathe

  Release Date (U.S.):  Jul 10, 2009

  Release Date (U.K.):  Jun 26, 2009

  Release Date (JP):  May 29, 2009

Final Verdict:


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