'Blade II': A Sequel With Bite

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 22, 2002

WESLEY SNIPES owns the Marvel Comics "Blade" character the way Clint Eastwood owns Dirty Harry. In "Blade II," a second entertaining foray into the underworld of power-vampires, he's the man with the plan, the feet, the weapons and the attitude.

It's great to watch.

In a world of bloodthirsty bruisers, he's Mr. Slick. That's because he's half-human, half-vampire, which gives him the best of both worlds. Ever since vampires attacked his mom (and infected the in-vitro Blade), he's been hell-bent on revenge. And thanks to his semi-humanity, he can strut around in daylight without going poof!

In "Blade II," he learns that his beloved mentor, fellow vampire-killer and weapons master Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), is still alive in Prague. (Whistler "shot himself" off-screen at the close of the last movie – that should have clued ya.)

Whistler joins Blade and his new weapons specialist, Scud (Norman Reedus), to tackle the latest world problem: a plague of "Reapers," super-vampires who intend to destroy the world's existing vampires and build a more powerful vampire.

The Reapers have mandibles that can extend and superhuman power. They don't just drink blood from vampires, they drain them dry then turn them into Reapers.

The Vampire Nation, technically Blade's enemies, appeal to Blade, asking him to lead an elite team, known as the Bloodpack, to pulverize the Reapers. No problem.

Of course, the allegiance is only temporary. Blade has to watch his new teammates, who were originally trained to kill him. They include Reinhardt (Ron Perlman), who takes special pride in his ability to beat any adversary, and the mysterious, attractive Nyssa (Leonor Varela). A little trash talking and a little love in the room never hurt anyone.

To appreciate the movie, you have to be okay with vampire violence. I don't mean subtle little nips at the neck and, ooooh, it's directed by Werner Herzog. No, I mean vamp-on-vamp, smash-mouth, "Any Given Sunday"-meets-"The Matrix" neck-puncturing. The Reapers don't bite or fight quiet. And the Bloodpack aren't exactly sissies, either.

At the center of all this gymnastic gore-mongering is Blade, pirouetting, somersaulting, high-kicking and twirling those killer blades with the real nasty edges.

But it's not just Snipes's cool that propels this movie. It's the behind-the-camera combination of scriptwriter David S. Goyer (who wrote the 1998 film) and director Guillermo del Toro, the Mexican maestro who made the atmospheric "Cronos," "Mimic" and "The Devil's Backbone." Together, they make "Blade" exactly what it ought to be: fluid, fast and fun. And it's a cinch – given the care, precision and almost-guaranteed success (in video rentals as much as theatrical box office) of this movie – that we haven't seen the last of Blade yet.

BLADE II (R, 108 minutes)Contains intense violence, obscenity and neck abuse. Area theaters.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company