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Reviews:"Blade II" is all action and gore. And not in the pejorative sense.It's one of those rare sequels that does more than merely refry and remixingredients of the original; instead, it continues the story, amplifying andadding new details and characters to the established world. Credit screenwriterDavid Goyer, an admitted comic geek who returns for this second installment,and a new director, slime-stylist Guillermo del Toro, for chewing instead ofchoking on everything that they bit from Stephen Norrington's initial entry.
The story so far: The half-human, half-vampire Blade (Wesley Snipes) is on amission to wipe all vampires from the face (and bowels) of the earth. The Daywalker,as he's known to his prey, has all of the bloodsuckers' strengthsand none of their weaknesses (except for the familial drinking problem; a thirsthe quenches by injecting a special serum). At the outset, he is in Prague, huntinghis mentor, Whistler (the crusty Kris Kristofferson), who was apparently killedin the first outing, but through a somewhat oblique loophole is now (barely)alive again. After finding Whistler and restoring his health, Blade is visitedby two messengers from the Vampire Nation (or maybe Janet Jackson's RhythmNation-it's hard to tell). A new strain of the virus that causes vampirismhas been discovered. Dubbed the Reaper strain, it turns victims into super-scary,super-bald killing machines that hunt both humans and vampires. Reluctantly,Blade agrees to help, and is teamed with a small tactical unit, the Bloodpack,whose chief aim until recently had been to hunt down and kill the Daywalkerhimself. Tension ensues.
Borrowing liberally from another sci-fi second act, Jim Cameron's "Aliens,"and with a bit of Frankensteinian mad science thrown in for flavor, "BladeII" quickly launches into a series of claustrophobic fight scenes, injectedwith prerequisite post-"Crouching Tiger"-style swordplay and kung-fu(Snipes, who does his own martial arts, has never been better). Except for oneshort instance where an entirely computer generated Blade and his opponent squareoff (which looks as if someone in the editing room accidentally patched in agame of Soul Kalibur), the digital effects are seamless. And then there'sthe gore: Never content to just show two tiny bite marks, Del Toro is grottyfrom the get-go. This flick is downright unsanitary. Especially the Reaper'sbed-wettingly frightening feeding mechanism, which isn't revealed untilmidway through, and once it has, you really wish it hadn't.
The cast plays well together, even when their characters don't: Bloodpackleader Nyssa (Leonor Varela) brings nobility to the hot-chick-in-leather roleand sympathetically underplays what could have been a truly cheesy characterarc. Ron Perlman is perfect as the snickering Reinhardt, his already distinctiveface screwed into a mordant sneer. The rest of the cast are mostly monster chow,but standouts include Hong Kong veteran Donnie Yen, who delivers a mute butauthentic ass-kicking, and Kristofferson, who offers some of both the film'slamest lines (of the "don't you die on me" variety) and greatestinsults (which sadly, cannot be reprinted in a family magazine).