out of five
: 110 mins
A sequel that stands perfectly well on its own, this benefits greatly from the presence of Mexican horror maestro director Guillermo del Toro, delivering action, blood, gore and guts in crowd-pleasing fashion.
For those of you who missed the original Blade and are wondering whether or not to bother with the sequel, fear not, as it’s not at all necessary to have seen the original in order to enjoy Blade II. Indeed, a slightly cack-handed voice-over prologue handily fills in all the gaps for you, explaining everything you need to know, namely: Blade (Wesley Snipes, looking fabulous) is a half-human, half-vampire kick-ass vampire hunter, feared by the vampire community and nicknamed The Daywalker.
Helpfully, it also explains how a character that was seemingly killed off in the original (Kris Kristofferson reprises his role as Whistler) comes to be in the sequel, as well as giving a quick run-down of the rules of this particular mythology, as not all the standard vampire rules apply. This means that the movie can then proceed directly to the action scenes, without all that tedious back-story getting in the way.
The plot is pure comic-book stuff, as befits its origins (Blade is based on a Marvel Comics character).
A new, mutated, ultra-deadly strain of vampires called Reapers (headed by Nomak, played by –stop sniggering at the back there- Luke Goss, of crap 80s band Bros “fame”) is threatening both the human and the vampire community, so the Head Vampire (oh yes, they're very organised) enlists Blade’s help and teams him up with The Blood Pack, an assorted (and poorly characterised) group of vampire assassins originally trained to hunt Blade himself.
Sure enough, mayhem, double-cross and bloodshed ensue in crowd-pleasing quantities.
Fortunately, Blade II avoids the usual pitfalls of sequelitis in several key respects: firstly, they’ve brought in a real director to do the job, rather than some hack. Indeed, Blade II is as much a Guillermo del Toro film as it is a Blade movie and fans of del Toro’s work will find much to enjoy here, not least in the lashings of distinctive gore effects and in the iconic presence of del Toro regular Ron Perlman (as Reinhardt), who livens things up no end.
Secondly, the action scenes are well handled, eschewing all that MTV-style editing nonsense in favour of some impressively choreographed action – the ‘ninja’ attack sequence is a particular highlight.
Finally, the casting is perfect: Snipes seems born to play Blade and
Kristofferson and Perlman are both excellent. In addition to them, however, the eclectic cast also includes Danny John Jules (Cat from Red Dwarf), Goss (surprisingly good, though you’ll be glad of his make-up) and –in a highly enjoyable cameo- Spanish actor Santiago Segura, who will be familiar to fans of La Dia de la Bestia. And as if that wasn’t enough, they’ve thoughtfully included some eye-candy in the shape of Leonor Varela, as the leader of the Blood Pack.
In short, Blade II is as enjoyable as sequels get. Fans of blood-soaked, kick-ass, action-packed vampire flicks need look no further. Everyone else, well, there’s always the re-release of E.T, isn’t there? Recommended.