Blood : The Last Vampire (2009)

Blood: The Last Vampire is a diseased prostitute of a film – the idea is solid if risky, the initial few minutes are great fun, but then you gradually realize exactly how much pain you’re going to be in later on and it’s a horrible, heart-aching trudge that you will pay for in a lot of ways. Avoid this and watch the original Manga version instead.

Beginning with some confused gumpf about demons assuming human form to prey on the bloodshed of war, we learn that an almighty demon called Onigen exists and, presumably, wants to kill a lot of people because she’s really mean. Her exact purpose is never quite established, but our half-demon vampire heroine Saya (Gianna Jun) wants to kill the monstrous bitch. Set in 1970’s Tokyo, Saya initially sets to murdering those cheeky lower level demons who’ve got a bit human-hungry of late, and by doing so she eventually draws Onigen to fight the ultimate fight of good versus evil, or at least quite a big fight, anyway.

Oddly our completely self-sufficient heroine is under the charge of a shady secret organization of dullard humans called The Council, who are using the unhinged vampire-with-a-soul assassin lunatic to bait the ancient demon Onigen into the open. Why Saya works for them if totally unknown, but she attends an American military base in Japan to infiltrate the school and investigate the recent deaths of some humans. “I don’t investigate, I kill”, she tells her mentor Michael Harrison (Liam Cunningham), and she’s not lying. There for less than a day, she chops the head off a bullying vampire girl. When the military decides they don’t like their students being decapitated and the Council becomes morally compromised, Saya decides to randomly team up with the particularly pointless daughter of a General to escape the Council, the military and finally have her brutal showdown with the all powerful Onigen.

Based on the original 2000 Manga version by Kenji Kamiyama, Katsuya Terada and Hiroyuki Kitakubo (director of Akira), this could have been a visual treat and a cleverly pieced together epic, but instead it became a rushed, stodgy confused mess that becomes tiresome very quickly. A real shame, considering its ace source material.

The real tragedy with Blood: The Last Vampire is that the initial fifteen minutes are interesting, smart, subtle and watchable, but the longer the film drags on the writer and director decide that reality should no longer play any part in the proceedings, and promptly evacuate any sense of intelligence, charm or style and replace it all with a confused bag of stagnant boredom.

What veteran British actors Liam Cunningham (Dog Soldiers) and Colin Salmon (Resident Evil) are even doing smelling a script this awful is baffling, but their needless American accents disguise their embarrassment as they cliché their way through the gradually worsening filmic vomit.

The film is wilfully extreme and features some of the worst CGI fighting ever committed to the screen; it jumps from one elongated, largely unimpressive sword battle to another, occasionally punctuating it with some ridiculous vehicle crash or badly directed free-running across the roofs of Tokyo. The flashback scenes of ancient Japan are the most compelling and greatly missed when not around, making the modern, city-set sections seem horribly awkward.

Blood: The Last Vampire is massively charmless throughout, with appalling pacing and a surprisingly lack of fun for such an action-packed film. It is confused, convoluted and senseless. Avoid unless you really like swords, Colin Salmon or falling asleep in front of violence.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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