[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B0057OCLHY][/pullquote] If Tim Burton’s Batman began the comic book film revolution in Hollywood, then it was Blade that acted as the proof of the genres popularity. Released in 1998, helped into creation by Wesley Snipes’ production company, Blade proved a solid box office hit. The reason it was so important was because while Batman had the draw of Burton, the Caped Crusader and Nicholson’s Joker, Blade was a modest production based on a low-level Marvel character who many would never have heard of and yet it still did good business. It was Blade that allowed Bryan Singer to direct X-Men and Sam Raimi to launch the hugely successful Spider-Man franchise.
Blade (Snipes) is a vampire hunter. Born from the womb of a woman who was in the process of turning into a vampire, he has all their strengths and none of their weaknesses save for their ˜thirst’ for blood. Keeping this in check with help of his aid Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) he hunts vampires as they threaten to over-take his city. While saving a woman from a vampire attack, Blade is thrust into contact with a power-hungry vampire called Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff), who has a master plan that involves the annihilation of humanity.
The plot is by-the-numbers, predictable fare. From the moment it starts the structure is obvious even to the casual viewer, but where Blade stands above other action films is in its production style. Director Stephen Norrington, uses his background in music videos with a drained colour pallet and a glistening silver sheen over everything that gives the impression of a dark and sinister underbelly to the throbbing metropolis. The opening scene, one of the best in the film incidentally, takes place in an underground club/abattoir that pounds with base-heavy techno-music and strobe lighting. The effect is edgy, cool and completely entertaining.
Wesley Snipes is perfectly cast as the ˜day-walker’ Blade and his combination of snarling honour and cynical one-liners put him up there with Wolverine in the comic book cool stakes. His scenes are martial arts heavy, but there are glimpses of a heavy soul beneath the swords and blood, and it makes him enigmatic and compelling to watch. He talks with his fists, and feet and weapons, but is never afraid to stop and crack wise with any vamp on the scene. Dorff’s Frost acts as a nice counter-balance to Blade and while the final showdown is bad to the point of laughable, the build-up is energetic and fun.
Blade is not the finest example of comic book adaptations that we’ve seen, but it is fun, energetic and exciting. From this point on, all the big franchises were snapped up and there was a distinct shift in Hollywood’s summer blockbuster production.