Saturday, 10 October 2009

Blood: The Last Vampire

Life sucked dry ...

Working with a mysterious organisation known as the Council, Saya (Ginanna Jun) is on a quest of vengeance to kill the most powerful demon in existence, Onigen (Koyuki). Saya's search leads her to a military base in Tokyo where she befriends Alice McKee (Allison Miller), a student whose persistence leads her to discover that demons are living amongst humans.

The narrative of Blood: The Last Vampire is an on-and-off affair. The initial setup is quite intriguing but the potential for a deep narrative sadly never materializes into anything tangible. The film does have a lot going for it, combining past segments with Saya's search for Onigen while factoring in political tension between the military and the Council. None of these elements go beyond the simple matter of establishment and the core reason for this is a weak script. By the film's end it becomes obvious that the script is undeveloped and the final running time of a mere 90 minutes becomes evident of this claim. The film needed to be longer by at least 30 minutes so as to allow the core elements of the story to be developed. Saya's past is glazed over, especially with one character that is pivotal to Saya's younger life being mentioned only to be dismissed as unimportant by the script a minute later. More back story would have only helped develop Saya as a character but as far as characterisation goes, the film gets the job done. The internal politics and the detective mystery nature of the film which are hinted at could have added wonders to the plot enhancing Saya relationships with other characters while trying to build mystery to the demonic forces at hand. Nevertheless the film does attempt some fleshing of the plot with the help of the character Alice McKee. The problem with this is that Alice works too much as this voice of reason, with two noticeable scenes where it is difficult to understand how she knew exactly what was going on or what to do. All-in-all, the narrative works well until the 3rd quarter of the film where events begin to enter the fray at random; it also doesn't help that the ending is on a weak note but the film, nevertheless, carries a unique enjoyment factor to it.

Acting is perhaps one of the better elements of the film. There is no award winning performances but the actors convey the emotion required of their characters. Jun is both brooding and lonely; Miller is spunky and afraid even though her scenes of enlightenment are somewhat stale; Koyuki has a stint of subtle evilness; while Cunningham is aptly suited as the cool headed lead investigator for the Council.

Disappointingly, and easily a nod to a low budget, is the very poor standard of computer graphics. The two main uses of this are when the demons turn into their true forms and when blood sprays during fighting sequences. The latter is forgivable since while the blood does not look genuine by any means it gives the film a stylized appeal. However, the CG for the demons is truly bad and almost unwarranted. The demons are lazily designed and considering that the adaption does not stick true to the source material, the demons could have easily been changed as well. Demons have three forms throughout the film: a human form; a demon form; and a semi-demon form which is easily more menacing and believable then the demon form itself.

In fact the fight scenes which involve the CG demons are easily the most poor of the lot: there is no vigour to them and they feel more like filler than anything else. However the remainder of the action is pretty well handled. The camera can be jerky at times but never to point where you'll be left wondering what happened. Unfortunately, the final action sequence is a let-down resulting in little in terms of raw action and the best action scene does not even involve Saya. In the end, the fighting in Blood: The Last Vampire is both part good and part bad and it is saddening that it does not remain at an adequate level of quality.

There is no sex or nudity to be found in the film, and language is used rather sparingly while including the odd blasphemous term. Nevertheless, the film sports quite a lot of violence and while it is never overly gory as some films in the same genre, it is still pretty violent. Violence includes some gunfire and sword fighting, with the latter including a collection of normal strikes, stabbings, beheading, decapitations and a character having is hands cut off. Most of these scenes include the spraying of blood though as mentioned earlier these are done in with stylised computer graphics.

Blood: The Last Vampire is a 90 minute film of an original 45 minute animation, and is easily 30 minutes too short. All the basics are covered, such as the acting, action and narrative but they are never explored with much depth or diligence. The acting is workable with a few sore spots; the action can be quite fun to watch when the director seems to care; and the narrative falls somewhat short after having many promising points for discussion. There is niche likeability to the overall structure of the film which helps it chances, unfortunately this structure is lacking in substance resulting in a film which could easily have been so much more.


Screen date: 09 October 2009
Release date: 09 October 2009