Cutting Edge

The curse is broken! Until now, every film based on a Marvel Comics character has turned out mediochre at best. Some of them have been downright horrible. Here at last we have one that’s not just decent – it kicks ass!

Blade made his debut in 1972 as a supporting character in Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan’s excellent Tomb of Dracula series. At the time, Marvel (and other publishers) were making often embarrassing attempts to horn in on the blaxploitation market, introducing such jive-talking ghetto superheroes as The Falcon and Luke Cage, Hero for Hire (“Sweet Christmas!”). Blade nicely complemented Wolfman and Colan’s band of pale vampires and vampire hunters, cutting through the wordy prose with his own brand of coolness. In a sea of melodrama, he was an island of attitude.

The movie Blade has attitude, too. Wesley Snipes plays him with utmost intensity and a pinch of humor, stalking and strutting through the film wrapped in sharp, shiny duds. In simplest terms, Blade is Buffy the Vampire Slayer on steroids.

But a lot of movies have attitude – Blade has the guts to back up the promises it makes. Imagine: an action movie where you’re actually unsure of the outcome. While we’re at it, how about a horror show that’s actually scary. How about Udo Kier playing a vampire again. And how about fight scenes and stunts that not only have you gasping, but actually rile audiences into cheering. Well, Blade‘s got all that.

Not that it’s flawless – I spotted several continuity mistakes in the editing. There’s also some superhero movie cliches, such as the fact that Blade is aided by a sick and crippled old mechanical genius (Kris Kristofferson) – or the fact that his arch enemy turns out to be the vampire that made him what he is. But it’s easy to forgive these slights in a movie that is so generous otherwise.

A big hand for Snipes, who’s the driving force behind this project, as actor, producer and choreographer. A bigger hand for director Stephen Norrington, who mixes moden techno music with quick-cutting techniques without making it look like every other Mtv video. I’ll have to track down his previous effort Death Machine to see if this was a fluke.

Blade. See it.

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