July 99 Reviews: Blade

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By Shelby Jones

Credits: Directed by Stephen Norrington. Written by David S. Goyer. Produced by Stan Lee, Avi Arad, Joseph Calamari, Lynn Harris and Andrew J. Horne.

Cast: Wesley Snipes, N'Bushe Wright, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristenofferson, Donal Logue, Udo Kier, Arly Jover, Sanaa Lathan and others

Can an African-American superhero generate success at the box-office? When Blade, the action-thriller starring Wesley Snipes and distributed by New Line Cinema, first hit movie theaters it aimed to take a bite at that very question. The answer was a resounding yes. Blade grossed $70 million dollars stateside and a sequel is already in the works. Now on video and DVD, Blade is still blazing trails as a milestone in the on-screen images of African-Americans.

Blade was first introduced to the public in Marvel Comic's "Tomb of Dracula" as a half-vampire, half-human vigilante. His popularity skyrocketed and soon he was soon awarded his own spin-off comic book.

Snipes, who is a dedicated student of several martial arts, was enthusiastic. "I wanted to do something I hadn't done before," said Snipes. "I've played a lot of good guys. Good guys are cool, but they're soft--they're limited in what they can do." Snipes had also recently launched Amen Ra Films, his own production company, and saw the film as an exciting project for his firm..


"They’re everywhere." You remember that tag-line from the trailer, don’t you? Well, the "they" in question are vampires, and in Blade’s alternate reality, it’s true: they are everywhere. For centuries they’ve existed in an underground society hidden to all but those in power at the highest levels. They keep to themselves and quietly make power moves in the dead of night. Real estate, financial institutions, police and politicians–you name it, the vampire sect controls it.

Unfortunately for them, an upstart young vampire by the name of Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) wants to change the rules. Why make an effort to peacefully coexist with the food chain, he wonders. Why not rule the humans and treat them as the comestibles they are? Toward that end, he and his endless acolytes of beautiful people hatch a plot to run the world on their terms. There’s only one problem: a kick-ass half-vampire with a black belt, loads of high tech weaponry and a bad attitude–Blade. Assisted by his mentor Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) and a kidnapped hematologist (N’Bushe Wright), Blade sets about the nasty business of punching, kicking, slicing, dicing, gouging, cracking and manhandling the endless denizens of the undead dispatched to destroy him.

In a few scenes the pacing is hindered by Snipes’ affectation of a man vs. Vampire identity crisis, but his time spent between these moments as the strong, silent, deadly type balance it out. N’Bushe Wright, quite convincing as a bright and resourceful doctor, also shows that she can kick butt with the best of them. Blade also introduces newcomer Sanaa Lathan, who manages to make an impact with the few lines she’s given as Blade’s mother.


With eye-popping special effects, an ultra-slick feel and enough whup-ass to fill up an entire factory of cans, Blade delivers the goods in style.


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