DIRECTED BY

Guillermo del Toro

 

STARRING

Wesley Snipes

Kris Kristofferson

Ron Perlman

Leonor Varela

Norman Reedus

Luke Goss

 

RATED

R

 

RELEASED IN

2002

 

RUNNING TIME

1 Hr., 57 Mins.

From 2002's "Blade II."

Blade II June 29, 2018   

But even then, it’s as if he knows being overtly emotional in this rancorous world will make it even harder to get by.

 

This is especially true in Blade II, which takes place two years after its predecessor. Once again, we’re thrust into a world where humans and myriad creatures of the night exist concurrently. Only here, the central conflict doesn’t come second fiddle to an origin story. II is all discord and the discontents which come with it.

 

This time around, our hazel-eyed, edgily haired slayer is forced to team up with a bevy of his vampiric enemies for the sake of saving both humans and the bloodsuckers who terrorize them. A new species known as Reapers, born out of pestilence, has suddenly creeped out from the shadows and is endangering every living facet of the earth. Essentially a thirstier version of the conventional Nosferatu, Reapers are not able to be killed using the orthodox methods of vampire slaughter, and feed so often that, in a short period, death tolls are starting to look genocidal.

 

Reluctantly, Blade, along with the gravel-voiced bounty hunter who raised him (Kris Kristofferson), collaborate with a miscellany of the vampire community’s highers-up to address the problems caused by this invasive species. This will not heal all wounds, though: Once the Reapers are taken care of, the feud between the full-blooded vampires and Blade will likely continue as if nothing ever changed.

 

Plot is ancillary in Blade II. As it has long gone with so many of the works which make up the Mexican-born del Toro’s oeuvre, we are first taken with the style and atmospherics, then the narrative if it’s lapel-grabbing enough.

 

Del Toro is generally a filmmaker able to match his style with his substance. But such is not necessarily the case with Blade II. With its steampunk, Gothic-lite ambience so commanding, looking at the storyline as a device rather than an all-important characteristic is a given. In the same spirit of a comic book — fitting, since the feature is based on one — the aesthetics and the simplistic melees are what make the biggest impression. The storyline comes second banana.  

 

This sort of impression isn’t a bad one. The battle sequences, either coming across like replications of The Matrix’s (1999) elasticized approach or riffs on the Soulcalibur (1995-present) mode courtesy of the very-2002 computer-generated imagery, are cartoonishly springy but nonetheless thrilling. The film’s look — all wet pavement; dank, dark basements; chrome; blood splatter; sexy bodies; fantastical special-effects makeup; and maledictory, vaguely occultist-chic — is compellingly antic and confidently put forth by del Toro.

 

Without its self-assured style, would Blade II be an effective synthesizing of the horror, science fiction, thriller, and comic genres from which it mines inspiration? No point in indulging in “what ifs”: if a film’s look and feel is able to prompt the sorts of powerful visceral reactions you’re bound to experience here, who cares if the narrative’s cursory? B-

T

he title hero (Wesley Snipes) of Guillermo del Toro’s Blade II (2002) is enduringly conflicted, but he rarely emotes. He is half-vampire, half-human. Black and living in a predominantly white world. A vampire hunter who happens to possess a few of the attributes of those he kills on the regular.

 

We never see this internal battle on the exterior, though. Always wearing tined sunglasses and chunky leather regalia, and always with a quasi-samurai sword kept in his weather-beaten holster, he is a vision of comic-book mettle. Sometimes he'll show pain after being wounded by an enemy.