Blade II

Genre: Action
Year: 2002
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Luke Goss, Leonor Varela, Norman Reedus
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Producer: Avi Arad
Writer: Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan
Music: Marco Beltrami

Blade is back, and he reluctantly joined an alliance with vampires to take out Nomak, the carrier of a genetic mutation of vampirism that when transmitted through saliva, turns vampires into Reapers.

Donnie Yen Choreographed Gold
Right off the bat, I noticed the choreography of the fights was different in this movie. It was more martial arts than the first Blade, and it was no surprise when I found out Donnie Yen was behind it all. Master martial artist Donnie Yen also starred in this movie as Snowman.

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I recognized the difference in the first major fight. The fighting was more physical, more detailed and it hit right with martial arts techniques I was familiar with from other like movies. It
had less of an American brawn feel and more of a controlled, artistic touch. Say the difference between Jason Statham and Jet Li.

Speaking of that first fight, when Blade stabbed the last guy in that sequence, the way he stabbed him right up close. Loved that personal kill.

When Nyssa and Blade fought, their sword fighting was so engaging and their skill almost even. It was a nail-biting fight. Flawlessly executed (except the CGI parts which were obvious and unnecessary). Don’t know about you, but seeing how well the masked vampire fought against our strapping hybrid, I was shocked and applauding that she was a woman. So was Blade.

Nyssa
A king’s daughter to the end. Strong and beautiful, just how I like a female warrior. Nyssa proved that a female lead can be gorgeous without compromising her character. Of course,
Leonor Varela is a naturally alluring woman with an irresistible accent, but she wore her hair up almost the entire film, was fully clothed, and was still the sexiest woman in the Blade franchise because of it.

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Not to mention, she pulled off being a king’s daughter flawlessly. A little bit spoiled with an attitude that bites, and the honor of a queen. She was tough on Blade, tough enough to lead a pack of soldiers, and still delicate enough emotionally to become romantically attached to Blade.

Come on, Blade and Nyssa made the ideal couple. Both have hard shells and soft centers, both were betrayed by their parents, both are vampires. Not once did they kiss in this
film, but they didn’t have to. It was love, and we called it when Whistler did.

The Reaper Strain is Realistic
If you’ve noticed, realism is one of my favorite features of creative work. So when they pitched the reason behind Nomak’s existence, I was jaw-dropped and fully satisfied by a film.

When Blade meets Overload Eli Damaskinos, he opens by explaining that once bitten by a vampire, the vampiric virus spreads within the human bloodstream in the course of 72 hours.

Blade: “Like cancer.”

Damaskinos: “Cancer…with purpose.”

Kounen: “Unfortunately, viruses evolve too. We’ve encountered a new one. We’ve dubbed it the ‘Reaper Strain’. And like any good pathogen, it appears to have found a carrier.”

Reapers feed off vampires, but the vampires don’t die, they turn into carriers of the Reaper virus. Reapers require hourly feeding, and thus within a short period of time would transmit the virus to thousands of vampires.

Blade: “Looks like he was doing me a favor.”

Damaskinos later: “When they are finished with us, who do you think they’ll turn on next? Your precious humans. Not one of them will be left.”

Like Blade could resist protecting us mortal folk.

The Bloodpack

Rarely in film do you love all the characters of a group. In the Bloodpack, I found every character to be unique and memorable. Even Priest who wasn’t as vital as the others.
Lighthammer, Fur Elaine, Priest, Reinhardt, Snowman and Chupa. The whole pack was a phenomenal gang of characters assembled for no purpose less than hunting their immortal
enemy: Blade.

I think every actor fulfilled their roles as these characters. Let me say that Donnie Yen (as Asians usually do in American movies) got the short end of screen time. He was the coolest!
Armed with a sword, he kicked ass and looked killer doing it!
All of the Bloodpack fought for their cause: to carry on their species. Which meant they loathed and opposed Blade the whole movie. I admire the characters staying loyal to that. Even
though their hatred of Blade made us despise them all the more.

The Bloodpack had the best slow motion swagger! Played with the sick intro from the song “I Against I” and you have the badass assembly every actor playing a comic book character dreams of.

Nomak
I don’t know about you, but I was rooting for this guy from the start. His demeanor from the beginning of the film was that of a broken heart, of someone betrayed by a loved one. His
character stayed consistent in this whole film. But what attached us to Nomak wasn’t sympathy, it was his shared vision with our protagonist:

Nomak had a rage that expressed itself in his fights, all the way up to Blade. Nomak wasn’t the antagonist in my book, but I think he considered himself a bad guy. What happened to him was unfortunate and unfair. What he fought for was honorable.

I found myself silently cheering for Nomak throughout the entire film. When he came running into Damaskinos’ lair, it was a small victory to me. Seeing him running in on the security camera, knowing he made it where he was needed most, knowing he came to take down the same guys Blade was after. It was all perpetually pleasing.

I’ll tell you, I never mourned a villain’s end except Nomak’s.

Nomak: “Isn’t it strange? It hurts…It hurts no more.”

His heartache, he meant, because that’s where Blade stabbed him.

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I will say, though, that Nomak and Blade fighting was thrilling to watch. The beginning of their fight is just them, two super beasts, running toward each other and then crashing. For a
minute, the camera work is sloppy when it seems like there’s a bunch of grabbing and handwork. But then we get body slams and fancy footwork and it all captivates you seeing alpha go against alpha. One of my favorite fight scenes in all of Blade.

M.O.
I talked about it last review in Blade how the movie functions in a pattern: Blade is drained of his blood, refuels with the help of a secondary character, kicks the asses of thirty goons, and then takes out the head bad guy. This movie followed that structure to a tee. Blade was drained to give life to more refined reapers like Nomak. Whistler was the secondary character who dropped Blade into the vat of blood. Now let’s talk about taking out thirty goons.

When we go into this scene, Crystal Method’s “Name of the Game” hyping us up, Blade warming up with some neck roles, we’re ready for this to go down. Bring out your best. Blade
can take ’em all. Even without his sword, Blade wiped the board clean! And as he neared Reinhardt, the bald vampire started to panic in fear of Blade. Hell, I would too if I wronged the Daywalker.

My favorite part was when Blade picked up a guard straight WWE style and leveled him on some glass. I held my breath and internally applauded the move.

Same M.O. Different delivery. All entertaining.

Tunnel Climax
I for sure thought they weren’t going to make it. Rarely does a movie ever have me on the edge of my seat like that. One of the best parts about Blade movies is that the predictable is disguised as unpredictable, and vice versa. So when Blade and our remaining protagonists are surrounded by Reapers, it’s down to the nail. They’re swarmed, drowning in them, bound to get bitten. And it doesn’t turn out how I thought it would. Great tension and action.

No Compromises
Making a film where your characters are affected by specific variants (sunlight, for instance) leaves plenty of room for goofs. There were dozens of times when this movie could have skimped out on the CGI or taken shortcuts but chose not to.

When Reinhardt was running through the tunnels, for instance, streams of daylight were leaking through manhole covers above him. Ron Perlman easily could have ignored the burning sensation he should have felt as a vampire when crossing that light, but didn’t. It was only two seconds of the movie, what did it matter? But it was such commitment to his character that it made him realistic.

Also, during the House of Pain shootout when Chupa is spraying bullets all over the place, they didn’t just have the vampires get shot and fall out of frame. Crew members made sure those vampires turned to CGI ash. That created an entirely realistic atmosphere to the audience that I—at least—appreciated.

Blade Got Cocky
I spoke last review of Blade’s expression being mostly in his voice. In this film, Blade was entitled to being cocky. My favorite scenes being when Reinhardt targeted Blade in the
club, and Chupa pointed out that Blade had Reinhardt marked in return. That smile Blade flashes was so cheeky and satisfying.

It happens again when Blade stands next to a loose end vampire from the beginning of the movie who happens to be at the club where the Reapers are. The bald vampire jumps when
he sees Blade and flees in grateful panic. Blade’s smirk at the fear his mere presence induces was deserved.

Blade’s One Liner
While Blade didn’t get to deliver this one to Nomak himself, it went like this: “Nomak’s the carrier. It all started with him; it’ll end with him.”

Whistler also had some pretty good lines this one: “Some of us can’t see in the dark, you fucking nipplehead. What am I supposed to do?”

Opening weekend in March 2002, Blade II brought in over $32 million dollars. Worldwide, this film grossed over $155 million. Impressive, isn’t it? When the second film in a franchise outdoes the first?

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