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Another in the seemingly endless line of movies I missed at the cinema, Blade is another adaptation of a Marvel Comics character. Unlike X-Men and the more recent Spider-Man, Blade is strictly adults-only entertainment, with enough martial arts action and violence to satisfy all but the most blood thirsty of viewers. But at the end of the day, is it any good?

Blade tells the story of a human-vampire hybrid possessed of superhuman strength, reflexes and healing abilities. Blade isn’t your average bloodsucker however; firstly, he doesn’t kill innocent people to satisfy his craving for blood. Secondly, sunlight doesn’t kill him. Together with his mentor, Whistler, he hunts down and kills vampires, all the while trying to fight his ever-increasing blood lust.

Meanwhile, vampire overlord Deacon Frost is preparing for the coming of La Magra, the Blood God who will spell certain doom for the human race. Frost seeks to awaken La Magra, and in doing so turn everyone in the world into vampires. Blade must face the ultimate test as he fights for his life, and the souls of mortals everywhere.

Caught up in this struggle is Karen Jenson, a hematologist whom Blade saved from one of Frost’s henchmen. Unfortunately, before Blade could reach her, Karen was bitten. Now she must search for a cure for her own vampirism, while simultaneously attempting to find a cure for Blade’s blood sucking tendencies.

Meanwhile, Frost discovers that Blade himself may be the key to unlocking the secret of La Magra, and sets into motion a plan to capture his adversary. It all adds up to an explosive climax, featuring some of the most exciting martial arts combat you’ll find outside of a Hong Kong action movie.

Wesley Snipes is perfectly cast as Blade. He has the right look, the right attitude, and most importantly, he has the right moves. Some of the set pieces in this movie equal if not surpass The Matrix and similar films in terms of the sheer “cool” factor, which is no small compliment. While the dialogue isn’t going to win any awards, it’s certainly no worse than many other comic book adaptations, and is actually better than many of them. Acting is pretty good on the whole, with N’Bushe Wright standing out as Karen Jenson (although this may just be because she’s rather attractive). Stephen Dorff may look a little puny compared to your usual super-villains, but one thing I’ve always like about the vampire myth is that fact that they look just like you or me, but with extraordinary abilities. I can’t really think of many bad things to say about the movie, as I enjoyed it so much, so on with the rest of the review.

Blade is presented in anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen, and as you’d expect from a relatively new film the transfer is good. Colours are vibrant and the contrast between night and day is excellent. Blacks are black, not grey, which is especially important as a great deal of the action takes place at night. In spite of this, the darker scenes never lose detail. There are a few minor problems with the image, but certainly nothing to write home about.

The film features a fantastic soundtrack. This is particularly noticeable in the club scene at the beginning of the film as Blade terminates vampires with extreme prejudice, all to the tune of the track ‘Confusion’ by New Order. The split surrounds are well used, with gunfire seemingly ricocheting from all angles during the frequent shootouts, and a neat 360-degree surround effect when Blade uses a lethal boomerang weapon. All in all this is an impressive audio mix.

Blade has a few extra features worthy of mention, the most interesting of which is probably the unadvertised commentary track (when will EiV sort out their DVD sleeves). Also included is an unfinished ending which shows the manifestation of the Blood God, La Magra. The special effects for this sequence aren’t finished, but from what is on offer I think they made the right decision when leaving it out.

Next up comes Designing Blade, a twenty-two minute featurette that concentrates on the various aspects of production. Cast and Crew bios are next, and these are fairy limited in comparison to those found on DVDs today. They give basic information about the principal actors and crew, but lack any kind of interactivity. A theatrical trailer is also included, framed in 4:3 and featuring a stereo soundtrack.

Finally, a Behind the Scenes featurette gives us a better look at some of the green screen work, stunts and fight choreography that went into making Blade the action-packed movie that it is. At slightly over five minutes in length, this isn’t going to win any awards, but it does make interesting viewing while it lasts.

I have to admit to being sceptical about this film when I first saw the preview trailer. It looked like another very bad adaptation of a Marvel comic book character. After watching Blade my opinion has been radically changed. It is a very stylish, entertaining film, with great special effects and an excellent performance from Wesley Snipes. With brilliantly choreographed fight sequences, a banging techno soundtrack and a dry wit, Blade comes highly recommended as the best Marvel superhero tie-in yet. In my opinion it’s a better film than the overrated X-Men. In fact, you could go as far as to say that it’s fangtastic (sorry)!