I only recently watched the first Blade last week, and got to enjoy a film untouched by modern sensibilities. Do you like over-the-top action, cheesy one-liners, and dated special effects? That’s Blade. A fun movie about a badass Vampire-hunting vampire, killing other Vampires, with an overarching plot about stopping the villain Vampire from exterminating humanity.
Fairly straightforward and entertaining stuff if you’re willing to put down your video and jackpot casinos gameplay and turn your brain off for a couple of hours. Since I love over-the-top action, I decided to binge the entire trilogy. Is Blade 2 as good as the original? In every way that matters.
Blade 2, Electric Boogaloo
After the events of the first film, we return to Blade still hunting Vampires around the world. After his friend and father figure, Whistler, died in the previous film, Blade teamed up with a new sidekick named Scud who handles the tech for him.
But wait! It turns out, Whistler is alive! For some reason. He turned into a vampire, then was stuffed into a Bacta Tank, then… didn’t become a Vampire? Er, well, don’t worry about it, because the movie won’t.
Immediately, Whistler and Scud begin a small rivalry as the two compete for their role as chief sidekick until the power goes out, and their base is invaded by Vampire ninjas in tactical sun-proof suits. After some not-so-polite introductions, it turns out that the Vampires – led by a Vampress named Nyssa, are actually interested in requesting Blade’s help.
As it turns out, there’s a new vampire mutant on the block, that eats other Vampires as well as humans, and is hyper-virulent compared to normal Vampirism. When Blade correctly asks why should he care, Nyssa points out that these mutants don’t intend to stop at Vampires once they’re through.
Thus, Blade agrees to lead a specialized Vampire task force in order to hunt down these dangerous mutants, for the sake of both humanity and Vampire kind.
In the first movie, I praised its practical effects at the same time as I lamented the CGI. Blade 2, unfortunately, only further cemented that opinion. The movie uses CGI more extensively in order to accomplish a lot more in the fight scenes, but it’s a bit jarring when the scene swaps from live-action to a video game cut scene.
To give the movie credit, though, the transition between the CGI and live-action is actually extremely smooth. The kind of smooth where you see a live-action character gets punched in the face, fly through the air as a CGI model and crash into a wall, before sliding down the wall in live-action.
As before, when the movie does use props and makeup, it looks phenomenal. There aren’t any rubbery blob monsters / things, like in the first movie, which looked straight out of total recall, but the mutants and the Nostradamus-like Vampires more than make up for it.
Actually, the mutants use CGI for one of their more terrifying and completely unexpected abilities, and it’s… jaw-dropping, to say the least. Even without that though, their make-up just works to depict how inhumane these creatures are. I don’t know what the heck inspired the monster design for this movie, but it’s fantastic. I mean, it reeks of HR Gigers / Ridley Scotts “Aliens”, but… still. It’s awesome.
Now, the first Blade film wasn’t exactly a masterclass in character work, but it had its moments. Deacon Frost was charismatic, and arrogant, but didn’t go around murdering his own minions like so many villains do for some reason. Whistler and Blade had a really poignant moment when Whistler “died”. Karen Jensen was a smart, resourceful doctor, thrust into the world of Vampires.
Blade 2 undermines a lot of its character work within the first five minutes. Whistler is back from the dead, with a half-assed explanation for how it could have happened without him becoming a Vampire himself. Karen Jensen is gone from the plot entirely, without explanation, and tries to replace her as a love interest with Nyssa.
The problem is that Nyssa is a Vampire- one of the monsters Blade has been hunting for nearly his entire life. She tries to have a moment where she goes, “We were born this way, why do you judge us so?”
Maybe because Vampires EAT people? You can’t take the high ground when you’re unapologetic about eating humanity alive. Blade himself staves off his thirst by using a special serum. Maybe if the Vampires took an interest in researching and producing said serum, they’d be more sympathetic. As they’re depicted, they’re completely unremorseful monsters.
Oh, and the rivalry between Scud and Whistler ends with a kind of obvious backstabbing that I saw coming from a mile away.
Lastly, there are the villains. There’s the lead mutant, Nomak, and the Nostradamus character named (*checks notes*) Eli Damaskinos. Nomak’s personality is that he’s a monster-hunting murder hobo, and Eli is Voldemort if Voldemort was eligible for senior citizens services.