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Blade is the 1998 Vampire movie from New Line Cinema. The idea of Blade is based upon the character from the Marvel Comics of the same name. I can hear the moans now saying "Oh no not another lame comic book adaptation". After the recent batch of them (Dark Man and Spawn) you could be excused for thinking that Blade was going to be another failure. Well I am glad to report that Blade is one of the best comic book adaptations of recent years and is a thoroughly entertaining vampire movie.

Blade
Movie
Blade is a current day vampire film set in America. Wesley Snipes (White Men Can't Jump,Demolition Man) plays Blade, a vampire hunter who is only half human. His mother was bitten by a vampire before giving birth which is shown in the open credits of the movie. Blade has all the characteristics of a Vampire but is nicknamed the Day Walker because he is able to exist in day light. Blade's main aim is to rid the world of vampires. He is helped by Whistler, a hippy-like handy man, who supplies Blade with the equipment to fight the vampires. Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorf) is the main obstacle against Blade's clearance of Vampires. Frost is a new breed of Vampire, who is sick of hiding from the Human race, and wants to lead a new army of vampires. He disagrees with the Vampire Lords’ idea of living harmoniously with the human race, and aims to dominate Earth, and make Vampires the ultimate species.

The opening scene is probably one of the best action intro sequences that has been tried in the last 5 years. It involves a late night party which turns into a vampire bloodbath. One unfortunate reveller gets caught up in the entertainment but for the wrong reasons! Things turn bad and he is grateful to see Blade when he realises that he is the only human at the party. What ensures is a 5 minute special effects extravaganza with Blade taking on Vampires with the use of a gun, a sword and the good old fashioned fist! Blade is unusually long for a action movie. It runs for 115 minutes but manages to keep the fast pace action of the first 10 minutes running for the the whole length of the movie.

Blade
Snipes is ideally suited for the role as Blade. He has the physique and presence to pull off the role of a dominating vampire hunter. He doesn't have to do much serious acting for the role, but everything he does is done well. Stephen Dorf is very good as well. He plays a cool kind of bad guy and while his appearance is not particularly frightening, he is not the sort of guy you would trust if your back was turned!

Blade reminds me very much of a cross between Highlander and The Crow. It is a very dark, gothic movie with lots of sword fights thrown in for good measure. You can see from the outset that Blade is meant to be a franchise, and that more movies were intended. Blade is a very strong starting point. It is very gory in places and is not for the faint-hearted. If you find the opening scene distressing, then I’d switch the film off straight away, as the movie keeps that tone throughout.

Fans of non-stop action films will love this film and will no doubt look forward to the sequel, which is currently in production. Blade is certainly not like your average Vampire movies (Interview with a Vampire). It is not going to win any awards for acting and story line but what is does well is entertain throughout.

Video
New Line Cinema have made a big effort with the picture transfer for Blade. Considering that it is a relatively old DVD release, it compares well against some recent DVDs. Blade has a widescreen 2:35:1 anamorphic transfer which allows you to view all the special effects as they were intended to be seen. Lots of the scenes in Blade are dark, and I could see no sign of blockiness. In fact the colours are vivid and deep which makes the transfer about as good as you will get on this format. Blade is certainly a release which complements the DVD format and I would consider it a very good example of what DVDs have to offer.
<p>The menu system is pretty simple to navigate and sets the scene for the movie. It has a chilling animation sequence which is run everytime an option is selected. Blood flows through canals and is related to the end scene of the movie. The menus are not the most impressive I’ve seen, but they complement the atmosphere of the film very well.

Blade
Audio
Looking at the cover you would think that the audio on the DVD was average. The DVD provides a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack but also has a director commentary, which includes Wesley Snipes as well. This is not mentioned on the cover which is very strange. The commentary is very entertaining. The director and Snipes talk about scenes, and both seem to be having a fun time. While Blade does not have a DTS soundtrack, the one that is provided makes good use of the movies loud scenes. The club scene at the beginning is very loud and clear. The dialog is present a the right levels, and the sound quality overall is of a good standard. Blade has an excellent soundtrack and this DVD shows exactly how good it is.

Extras
The Blade DVD offers quite a few extras, but overall I cannot help feeling disappointed. The main extra that is advertised is the alternative ending. This ending was cut from the original film because the audience didn’t like it. It involved Stephen Dorff’s character turning into a blood monster. The scene is quite interesting but it is obvious to see why it was cut. While only being in early production the scene is not very well filmed. It is a pretty lame ending and would have only spoiled the film. The presentation of the alternative ending is pretty rough, and the special effects are poor. It is the sort of thing you would only watch once and feel glad that it was not included.
<p>Also included on the DVD is a 22 minute feature called “Designing the Blade”. This is probably the best extra included on the DVD as it shows exactly how Blade was designed. It includes story boards, designs, makeup and how action scenes were filmed. There are a few sword fights which are interesting, and overall this feature is a good addition and shows how Blade was brought to the big screen.

Other extras which are worth noting are a cast and crew section, where you can get information about the stars of the movie. The final extra is titled “Behind the scenes” and is another disappointment. I was expecting a documentary with people telling you what was happening in scenes. All that is provided is 5 minutes of footage which has no commentary. It is pretty boring after a few minutes, and in the end I turned it off.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new release of this DVD brought out when sequels are made. While the picture quality and sound are very good, the extras are a little disappointing compared to some of the recent special edition DVDs.

Overall
Overall, Blade is an excellent movie which deserves a slighly better DVD release. With many older titles getting re-released I wouldn’t be surprised if Blade is spiced up in the future. There is nothing wrong with the picture and sound quality, so if it is just the movie that you are interested in then I would recommend getting hold of this title.


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