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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Blood: The Last Vampire

Discussion in 'Archived Reviews' started by Cameron Yee, Oct 20, 2009.

  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer

    May 9, 2002
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    Cameron Yee
    XenForo Template Blood Blu-Ray

    Blood: The Last Vampire

    Release Date: October 20, 2009
    Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
    Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Blu-ray case
    Year: 2009
    Rating: R
    Running Time: 1:29:00
    MSRP: $34.95

    Video 1080p high definition 16x9 2.35:1 Standard definition
    Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 Stereo
    Subtitles English, French, English SDH None

    The Feature: 2/5

    Bloodthirsty demon-vampire attacks are steadily increasing, signaling the return of their powerful leader Onigen (Kiyuki). Since the 16th Century*, when the creatures first rose from the earth, drawn by the bloodshed from Japan's warring states, a solitary warrior has stood to destroy them. In 1970s Tokyo, that warrior is Saya (Gianna Jun), daughter of the samurai Kiyomasa who Onigen brutally murdered almost 400 years ago. Working with a mysterious organization known as The Council, Saya's sole purpose is to avenge her father's death. But the challenge will not be just defeating the demons, but facing up to the part of her that is undeniably demonic - though she can handily eviscerate any creature that crosses her path, she has both a craving and need for human blood. Saya believes it's the centuries of demon hunting that have cursed her with their qualities, but soon she'll learn the truth behind what makes her so inextricably bound to the enemy she has sworn to destroy.

    "Blood: The Last Vampire" carries over some familiar elements from the short animé on which it is based, but loses most in translation. Gone is much of the mystery behind Saya's past. Though laid on a bit too thick in the original, the explicitness of the feature film gives viewers little to digest and makes the piece as a whole feel watered down. The origin itself is nothing that we haven't seen before, though one could argue it's dealing in archetypes that are inherently familiar. Even so, there's not much interesting in the WAY that it's told, most of the creative energy having been spent on the action set pieces. Ironically, the most interesting of them doesn't include Saya for most of it, indicating the general mediocrity of the lead actress in those scenes. Despite (or because of) the amplifying post-production efforts, it's often too obvious she's a martial arts novice. Her dramatic work is no better, hampered in part by her accent and some truly laughable dialogue. The visual effects work of the transmogrified demon-vampires will also induce snickering, though I'm willing to accept their herky-jerky movement is a shout-out to Ray Harryhausen rather than outright incompetence.

    As a fan of the original animé short and the series "Blood+", this feature film incarnation is by all counts a disappointment. I can't imagine what it's like for someone coming into it cold, devoid of such positive experiences. The remedy is of course catching those other treatments, which may make the feature that much worse but will also wipe away any of its lingering aftertaste. In fact the last 25 episodes of the "Blood+" series also came out on DVD today, completing the 50-episode series. Though certainly a commitment compared to a 90-minute feature, it's ultimately time better spent.

    * The prologue references the Onin War, which actually took place in the late 1400s.

    Video Quality: 4.5/5

    The film is accurately framed at 2.35:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec. Black levels are solid and deep, though contrast at the bottom end of the spectrum can exhibit some compression, obscuring shadow detail that is otherwise excellent. There isn't much variety in the color palette, images alternating between near-monochromatic washes of black, red or yellow, but it shows great depth. Fine object detail is generally very good, particularly in close ups, though there are a handful of instances when the image appears a bit soft in comparison. The transfer also shows no signs of excessive noise reduction or image sharpening measures, making for an overall excellent visual presentation.

    Audio Quality: 4.5/5

    The surround channels in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track are in a near-constant state of activity, providing balanced support for the score, effective environmental ambience, and seamless directional effects. LFE is equally active, sounding and feeling very robust, particularly in the fight scenes, though some upper bass hits can sound a little muddy compared to those in the lower registers. Dialogue is well balanced with the other channels and exceptionally detailed, the grit of one character's voice sounding particularly crisp.

    Special Features: 2/5

    Making of Blood: The Last Vampire (19:07): Conventional behind-the-scenes documentary serves compliments all around for everyone in the cast and crew.

    Battling Demons: Behind the Stunts (16:48): A closer look at the stunt choreography by martial arts director Corey Yuen and the work Jun put into it in both training and production.

    Storyboard Gallery: Boards for the Gym Fight, Powell Chase and Monk Fight.

    Previews: Includes trailers for Moon, District 9, and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, among others.


    The Feature: 2/5
    Video Quality: 4.5/5
    Audio Quality: 4.5/5
    Special Features: 2/5
    Overall Score (not an average): 2.5/5

    A disappointing incarnation of a popular animé franchise gets excellent technical treatment and a slim special features package.


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