Cast: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Stephen Dorff
Producer: Avi Arad, Joseph Calamari
Director: Stephen Norrington
Music: Mark Isham
A half-vampire, half-human hybrid hunts his own species, and faces the reign of La Magra, the blood god.
Let’s open this review with some honesty: Blade is the best vampire. He has all of their strengths, none of their weaknesses except the thirst. Regeneration, heightened senses, daylight immunity, immortality. Aside from being a vampire, Blade is also a martial arts expert and is geared up with some of the most sick weapons to aid in his vampire hunts.
To give credit where it’s deserved, Wesley Snipes as Blade was a flawless performance. One of the hardest things I’ve heard actors mention is playing a character with low humanity. When an actor spends hours in makeup and wardrobe on a movie set, they want to fulfill that character by expression. But to play Blade is to really do less. Blade expresses himself in fighting the cause. But to act as Blade means to speak very little, use virtually no facial expression. With Blade, tone and mood was in his voice. In this Blade, there were lots of scenes without sunglasses, so Wesley got to use his face to express mood. For the remainder of the franchise, that becomes quite seldom.
All of Wesley Snipes suited Blade. From the physical strength to the soft eyes, the depth of his voice. You know an actor satisfies as their character when two things happen: 1) the audience cannot picture someone else in their role; 2) when you refer to that actor AS that character outside of the movie. I still do it when I see Wesley Snipes. To me, he will always be Blade. And to this day, I can’t fathom anyone else playing the Daywalker.
Wesley Snipes has been practicing martial arts since he was twelve years old, and his skills showed impressively in this film. The fight scenes were so well-choreographed, so well executed that they left no reason to disengage from them. You wanted to be there for every move, for every take down, for every time Blade took on a dozen guys and turned them all to ash.
The opening fight gave us one of the most entertaining introductions to a character in all of cinema. Indirectly, we learned so much about our main character from this fight. Just to name a few: how the vampires fear him, and the expertise that earned him that fear, his control of the fight, his self-confidence walking into a nest of adversaries. Most importantly, Blade’s purpose for fighting his own kind: his love of humans.
Best Fight Parts
When Blade and Frost clash at the end, Blade flips off the stone edge and his sword meets Frost’s. That crisp shing, that entrance will always give me goosebumps. What a way to address a challenge.
The funny part is that it took Frost to upgrade to the blood god for him to be equal to Blade’s strength and skill. Which is realistic considering without the possession of La Magra, Frost is nothing more than a rebellious boy with authority issues.
No Cape Necessary, Just Give Him a Sword and Sunglasses
Blade’s coat, sword, and sunglasses are his staples. In the opening fight scene, the way he throws the coat behind him the way wind throws a cape, that was artistically appealing for Blade’s character. Such a cocky move, such a powerful expression. When he moves that coat aside, exposes his weapons, we know it’s about to go down.
When he removes his sword, though, it’s all over for the enemy. They might as well drop their guns and run. Blade is a marksman with that thing. He and his sword are bonded. He knows its limits and strengths, he’s aware of his limits with it. He uses the sword to the maximum of its and his capability.
Blade’s sword is unique, and it remains identical across the franchise. His sword has a handle that springs open and slices the hand of anyone not meant to hold it. Quinn discovers this first in this movie, and that feature of Blade’s sword remains the same throughout all three films.
Like I mentioned before, playing a role like Blade requires actors to do less expression. Suiting this film, however, Blade smirked at his victories and sassed where it was due. In the opening fight, the way he smiled presented more his knowledge of his environment, of his enemy, and less of his boasting about his own skill. When he faced off with Quinn for the first time and smirked, it almost said, “Remember this?” as he threw his double-bladed wing. Quinn did, of course, and ducked before Blade launched it and killed all the guards.
Blade later smirks out of conceit because damn, Blade’s just that good, y’all, and he deserved that. This is the Blade that ripped one man’s throat out and threw it at another man as a distraction. The Blade who’s always one step ahead of his enemy. The Blade that scoffed at a blood god and dissed Dracula. Needless to say, Blade’s a badass and he knows it.
The Blade franchise follows a pattern. The film opens with Blade killing a nest of vampires. And it ends with Blade being drained of his blood, revived by one of his secondary characters, after which he goes and slays a small army of goons and then takes out the main villain. The first and second movie follow this pattern almost to a tee.
The best part is that, even though this is Blade’s modus operandi, the films disguise the obvious. You’d think we get to these predictable parts and we’re like, “Ope, here we go. Blade’s been drained of his power, now he’s going to be revived and kick the asses of twenty guards.” But when you’re watching the movie, it goes more like this, “Aw, yeah. Blade’s about to be revived, and when he wakes, you motherfu* better run ‘cuz all y’all gonna taste the end of his sword.”
Every time Blade is anywhere in the movie, it’s for a reason. So when the film opens with him killing a nest of vampires, it’s because there’s a bigger purpose than just turning them all to
ash. In the first film, he’s rescuing that human. In the second movie, it’s because he’s after information. When he’s drained of his power in both movies, it’s because they needed it for the same reason (his blood is better than theirs), but the predictable is overlooked for sheer entertainment. The baddies get bigger in each film, and we so highly anticipate Blade taking them on, we await that climatic action so eagerly we don’t even care it’s the same plotline in both movies.
Blade’s One Liners
When he faces the bad guys, Blade always threatens them with a one-liner. To Frost, “Frost, you’re nothing to me but another dead vampire.”
Tactical and visually stimulating. Blade’s vest, coat, gloves, glasses, his weapons all strapped to him, his sword at the back, the combat boots. The whole tactical look was never out of place in this unrealistic in his settings. Out of place in a crowd of ordinary citizens, sure, he’s geared for war, but in the warzone, he fit right in. Versus a costume like Shazam’s, which obviously attracts that comic book character feel.
A grandpa with a shotgun, Whistler is just as vital to the vampire-hunting game as Blade. Whistler makes all of Blade’s weapons and tracks the nests, decodes the vampire’s plans. Whistler is the brains, Blade is the muscle, but neither could function without the other.
Whistler, though, is such a great character. He’s equally as sassy as Blade because he’s simply “too damn old for this shit”. Whistler’s tough enough to be in this fight with Blade, and he makes one hell of a sidekick.
Whistler is also our comic relief.
- “Someone get me a ***damned wheelchair!”
- “Catch you fuckers at a bad time?”
They could have put anyone in this position for any reason. But Whistler was created a father figure to Blade, and his purpose was served realistically. Whistler wasn’t put in there for show. He was put at Blade’s side for meaning, and that sense of heart is something you rarely see in cinema these days. A sidekick that’s essential to the main character. Not someone put there for sex appeal or for the credit’s sake or to serve a political message or to root for a socioeconomic class, or race, or weight class. But someone put there because the character needs them there.
I love that Karen and Blade didn’t fall in love. That would have been the obvious relationship to create between them, but not a realistic one.
Karen proved herself to be a bad bitch. Instead of becoming a victim to vampirism, she took her medical degree and created a cure for herself. Instead of becoming a victim in the end, she dug herself out of that tomb and blasted the bad guys away with that double barrel. She picked herself up every time like a grown woman should, and she became one of my favorite female characters in action.
Blade’s Mother, Vanessa
Blade’s heart was yanked at so many ways in this film. Between Whistler and reuniting with his mother who Blade thought was dead. His mother, the beautiful Sanaa Lathan, did not turn out to be the maternal figure I anticipated. As a mother myself, her role was confusing to watch, but it was well-written and I wouldn’t have wanted her any other way.
She made one hell of a hot vampire. Much the way Aaliyah turned us all onto the seduction of vampires in Queen of the Damned, Sanaa Lathan brought the sex appeal to vampires that the action film needed.
The only lesson she ever taught Blade was one that he carried with him the whole franchise: “Sooner or later, the thirst always wins.”
What a successful vampire movie! A thrill to watch, a story worth retelling over and over, a character so bad ass my six-year-old son plays Blade for pretend.
On opening weekend alone, it brought in 17 billion. Worldwide, this movie grossed over 131 million dollars. I’d say that was a hit.