dir: Stephen Norrington, (1998)
Finally got to sit down and watch one of my favorite films from childhood: Blade. Growing up on the Marvel canon via Saturday Morning Cartoons, I’ve always had a love for the stable of heroes, villains, and worlds built by Stan Lee et al. So, this film holds a special place in my heart.
What struck me upfront is that is that Blade has aged quite well. One of the main reasons for that is it’s adherence to tying up (most) loose ends. Over the course of it’s 2 hour running time, Blade posits questions and provides answers in a series of episodic movements. From vampire biology to the questions of character motivation (give or take a few wonky moments), the film builds a complete world with observable rules and moments.
The fun part of the film though is the deliberate camp of Snipes’ performance. He plays the emotionally guarded vampire hunter well, growling out his lines and treating nearly everyone around him like nothing more than an annoyance. But, at increasing instances, he breaks character and subverts this norm. From breaking the 4th wall to exclaiming hilarious one-liners, Snipes rounds out an otherwise grim narrative.
It’s these moments that unite Blade to it’s source material; at it’s best, it feels like a comic book. Much of that can be attributed to writer David Goyer, whose name you’ve probably seen gracing more DC properties, namely Nolan’s Dark Knight series.
This of course is good and bad, as we’re given a gang of interesting villains (Quinn, Pearl, the shadowy vampire council, Deacon Frost). But we also hit some logical pitfalls. The biggest of which is Deacon’s endgame. Wouldn’t turning every person on earth into a vampire defeat the purpose of being a vampire? Deacon’s illogical bent for destruction seems more like an act of spite than a true move to rule humanity, as his early outbursts suggest. Nonetheless, Blade’s aesthetic and story is one that, in context of the film itself, works well.
In addition, one thing I fully appreciated is Karen’s ostensibly independent role that evolves throughout the film. I say that because, despite a heavily eroticized moment at the end of the film, there is no romantic subplot here. That’s both unique and refreshing for a story in the vampire genre. Just think about the many films that came after Blade (may the Twilight series burn in an unending hell.)
If you look at it on a larger level, Karen is in many ways the Ripley of Blade’s universe. Namely, she fights her own battles, and in the process, becomes enlightened and independent. In fact, Karen saves Blade as many times as he saves her. I would argue that this journey from unwitting victim to willing warrior for Blade’s cause is nascently feminist. I won’t give the film full credit for this, considering Karen trades one boy’s club for another throughout. But, her character, her actions, and her importance to the narrative should be recognized.
It’s sad that the Blade trilogy was marred by Blade Trinity, with it’s multiple production issues and plodding story. That notwithstanding, you should watch Blade and enjoy a simpler time where techno was edgy, leather apparel was abundant, and vampires didn’t sparkle.
Blade is streaming on Amazon Prime and YouTube. Snailmail your action via Netflix.
The original Homeboy With A Keyboard ™, dap wants to be an enigma, but he’s pretty transparent. A transplant from “Back East,” he found himself in Oakland writing about alla the fun things. He’s in love with the coco(a) (skinned women and butter,) among other things. Find his rants and retweetery @dapisdope