Blood: The Last Vampire (2009)
By: J.R. McNamara on February 4, 2010  | 
DVD
Eastern Eye (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DTS 5.1. English, English (FHI) Subtitles. 87 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Chris Nahon
Starring: Gianna, Allison Miller, Liam Cunningham, JJ Feild, Koyuki, Colin Salmon
Screenplay: Chris Chow
Country: Japan/France
External Links
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I like the idea of animation being turned into live action. Every time I have heard of a cartoon from my youth or an anime being made into a live action feature I have jumped on board to see the result. Have I been disappointed? Maybe I should let films like Scooby Doo, Aeon Flux, Fat Albert, Underdog and The Flintstones live action films answer for me.

Yeah, that's right. So far, not so good.

Blood The Last Vampire is based on the OVA (original video animation) of the same name that was released in 2000. It was originally supposed to be part one of three, but the other two never emerged. Since then though there have been manga, novels and an animated TV series, and now, a live action film.

Blood the Last Vampire tells of Saya (Gianna Jun) who is a 400 year old vampire/human half breed dedicating her life to the destruction of vampires. She gets support from a secretive agency known only as The Council, who place her in situations where vampire infestations may be arising. Even though she appears to be in the Council's employ, she is only there until she destroys the demon lord Onigen (Koyuki).

Her latest mission takes her to an American airbase in Japan, where, undercover as a student, she finds the plague greater than expected, and with the Council going through some, shall we say, management changes with extreme prejudice, she also finds herself ultimately alone, which is not what she needs when also has to protect Alice (Alison Miller), the daughter of one of the officers on the base.

The cast of this film is wonderful. Gianna Jun as Saya plays the part to a T and considering she does a lot of the wirework herself, kicks some serious arse! Special mentions also have to go to the lovely Koyuki, whose elegance brings something different to her major fight scene, and also to Colin Salmon, who seems to pop up everywhere in genre stuff, and never really disappoints.

The script on the other hand is average. It employs cliché after cliché, and for those familiar with American pop culture it is hard to find much original with this story, which appears to be a remix of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Marvel comics character Blade. Occasionally the script offers moments where it tries to get some kind of legitimacy with comparisons, disguised as references, to classical literature such as Mary Shelley's Franksenstein and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures Through the Looking Glass, though ultimately they feel tacked on. The script howeverisn't the worst part of the film.

Tragically, the CGI in this is nothing short of deplorable. I am a lover of CGI, and I enjoy it when CGI effects are employed well in a film, but it is not here. The blood effects are almost all CGI, and have solidity to them that looks completely unrealistic, especially as how a lot of the action sequence are in slow motion, which doesn't hide its lack of realism. As a matter of fact, it makes it look even worse. If I were the filmmaker and my CGI blood looked this bad I would want to get rid of the blood scenes ASAP and would have played all the fighting in fast forward.

I'd like to say that the CGI demons are an improvement, but they are not. Badly designed and poorly executed CG makea for a poor cinematic experience. I reckon even the CGI guys from Van Helsing would have laughed at this one.

In films like The Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police one can overlook the crappiness of the CGI as the subject matter doesn't appear to be taking itself too seriously, but in this film it looks out of place and awkward. Rubber monster suits and physical arterial blood sprays would have been preferable.

So does Blood the Last Vampire change my opinion of the terrible cartoon to live action films we have so far seen? No it doesn't, but not because it wasn't a faithful adaptation or because it was treated with disrespect; the fault this time falls directly in the lap of the special effects department, and a little in the scriptwriters direction. What a shame!
Video
Fantastic, clear and crisp picture presented in a 16:9 ehnaced 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
Audio
The soundtrack is a loud and immersive, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1.
Extra Features
A few extras on this disc:

The Making of Blood covers the making of the film, mainly the physical effects and wirework. It doesn't go to deep into the making of the film, but it does show the difficulties that can come from a stunt heavy film.  

In addition to a trailer for this film, there are also trailers for Tokyo Gore Police, Ichi, The Machine Girl, Ong Bak 2: The Beginning and Godzilla: Showa Classics.

The Verdict
Blood the Last Vampire is a great example of wonderful ideas executed poorly. I appreciate that this is a lower budgeted film, but I firmly believe that just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. Just because these filmmakers had the ability to do effects digitally definitely doesn't mean they should have, as those effects are what ultimately wreck the film.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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