Blood:The Last Vampire
Title: Blood:The Last Vampire
Genre: Action, Horror
Starring: Gianna Jun, Allison Miller
Director: Chris Nahon
For those that caught my review of the original anime you would know that I thought it was lacking, feeling altogether incomplete (and indeed, it was) and too short to warrant more than a slightly disappointing mark. Nearly a decade on, we return to see a live-action remake, done on a low budget by a French director; to say I had low expectations would be an understatement, but such was my hopes for a better understanding of the story that I grit my teeth and prepared myself for the worse.
But in truth, I need not have worried so intently; far better than I could have expected, rather than run the risk of upsetting fans with major plot reconstruction, they find themselves sticking very close to the script. Decisively so in fact, resulting in many of the issues I had before returning. The film almost twice as long, whilst there were minor dialogue changes it works in the films favour, distorting the events only enough to remove hints of plot points that wouldn’t be explored (thus lending a more ‘simplified’ version of events), many of the extensions felt natural to the progression of the story, and whilst it lost some of the frenetic pacing of the original, it gave the film better coherency, feeling like a finished entity than an abandoned promise of what could have been.
It’s simply a shame that this careful consideration of the plot couldn’t have been carried out into other areas, the humungous clash of cultures a pivotal error exemplifying my point. The forced dialogue from the two American CIA agents, feeling unnatural and out of place in a live action setting, set in a US Army base (as was the original), and yet for no reason the US air base has Japanese signs littered about the place. The surrounding town, too, looked very ‘Japanese’ in its construction, which is rather baffling; it’s as though they’ve assumed the slight, barely noticeable design errors in the anime were intentional, and carried through with their inclusion under the fallacy that the quality of the end result is entirely dependant on their ability to clone the original.
Then there’s the issue of the effects – which again feel as though they’ve strived to clone the original – which perhaps are at their worst when you see the CGI blood, streaming out like dark red floating balls of jelly. Overused and less realistic than what was being produced a couple of decades ago, its poor quality only matched by the vampire, now robbed of all its demonic power; the slow build-up of red eyes in the darkness removed for all too readily apparent cheap CGI. Much of the choreography involves young Saya slashing through hordes of nameless vampire cannon fodder, these often bland sequences somewhat disguised by a constant frantic cutting between shots, making it stylistically impressive but all too superficial.
And yet despite these oversights, it can’t be accused of ‘betraying’ the original. The villains may not have been given the time to set themselves up as overtly evil, and the action felt tired and as uncreative as a big-budget blockbuster would be without the budget, and yet the Japanese woman in her late 20s made an unusually impressive show of playing a the vampiric child lead role. Through all the annoying bad acting, forced dialogue, and out of place sign posts, it’s apparent that a Frenchman might not be the best choice to translate a Japanese animation into a Hollywood style film, but I cant help but feel thankful for the end result could easily have been far worse.