The Breed (2001)

Title: The Breed (2001)
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Action, Crime, Mystery
Starring: Adrian Paul, Bokeem Woodbine, Bai Ling
Director: Michael Oblowitz

Ah the old classic crime format, taking two new cops with different attitudes to the job and slamming them together to watch the consequences as they hunt for the bad guy. Sometimes it ends up (trying to be) comical as in “Rush Hour,” and sometimes it ends up a cheese filled action classic like “Lethal Weapon.” Even rarer are the times it'll touch upon something great such as of “Se7en” or to a lesser extent “Training Day.” But this is a b-movie, so it will clearly need a far more obvious twist; here we have the big black arrogant cop partnered with the placid, cold and calculating officer, chalk and cheese, playing off one another and contrasting as the events unfold, their overt differences helping create the illusion that there are more detailed characters on display than there actually are. Oh, and the straight man also happens to be a vampire, along with the bastard their chasing.

I use the term vampire loosely, seeing as they've only taken a few of their traits; pale skin, strength, fangs, and in the case of the females, looking eternally hot in skimpy clothing, discarding the others as 'only in the movies.' Stakes do nothing, sunlight is a minor irritant – a fact only briefly mentioned in passing and then forgotten for the rest of the film - and they don't need to drink blood, having developed a synthetic one. Not abiding by half the rules is quite adventurous at the best of times, but here it does sound like a bit of a gyp eh? And speaking of eternally hot, Bai Ling makes her presence known, and given that shes developed such a reputation for flashing that it doesn't even register as news any more, it comes as no surprise that she once again fails to keep her clothes on, which despite her approaching her 40s in this flick isn't a bad thing (and how many women can you say that about?)

The black guy tries to play it with a brutish manner but just comes across like a dick without a dumb bro to fist bump. Instead it is the vampire that's oddly is more interesting, demonstrating that less can be more as when he delivers a line with emotion it becomes obvious his intention. But even then, the only one that actually seems to be worth a damn in this department is that very same seductress whose clothes just don't want to stay on, apparently spending the most time in the costume shop as they try to outfit her for something new in every scene she appears.

Despite these characters taking the forefront, there are a whole host of people in this oddball murder mystery; multiple suspects that never quite manages to have you question their every subtle move as with the best in the genre, but since this is only part of the films ambitious style it seems more pertinent that they quickly fill the audience in on the details, using clips of character profiles to deliver any relevant information. It's a practice I'd normally condemn, but given the cliché acting abilities of many of the minor characters and the difficulty in quickly conveying so many whilst still allowing the plot to move forward, it often made itself rather welcome.

And this is impressively where the film truly excels; the plot has been well constructed and put together, despite the issues in the dialogue, and the pacing is quick enough and often quite elaborate; characters often do have their own backgrounds and motives and never quite feel like mere cannon fodder, and when the political motives between humanity and their vampiric counterparts rise to the surface, both distrusting one another whilst spouting messages of peace, gradually it'll draw you into it's little slice of LA that it's created and show you how deep the rabbit hole truly goes. The action, too, is no slouch and is readily capable of drawing comparisons to films perhaps a couple of decades ago, back when they weren't so focussed on using CGI and more was done using stunts, and whilst there are times the budget makes itself known, the fact that it can stand beside them is more than impressive. Almost as impressive as the set designs, which never failed to be marvelously put together, varied in design and making use of the lighting to set the particular atmosphere, and with an adventurous number of locations well beyond the normal. This film ended up being surprisingly fun, doing what major releases attempt to do and doing it all with a limited budget. It certainly not without its flaws, but fans of the likes of the later Blade or Underworld films hankering for more could do well to track this one down.


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