Sunday, March 21, 2010

'Rise' is a decent vampire flick

Rise: Blood Hunter (2007)
Starring: Lucy Liu, Michael Chiklis, James D'Arcy, and Margo Harshman
Director: Sebastian Gutierrez
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Features reporter Sadie Blake (Liu) is raped and murdered, but that's only the beginning. She wakes up in the morgue as a vampire, and soon sets out to take revenge on those who killed her and to stop them from doing what they did to her to anyone else. An obsessed police detective (Chiklis) who lost his daughter to the same killers (Harshman) is also on their trail, but will they help each other, or ruin each others quests?

"Rise: Blood Hunter" plays as if it was scripted from the outline of someone's "Hunter: The Reckoning" or "Vampire: The Masquerade" RPG campaign. If you understand what that entails, you'll either know this movie is for you right now, or you'll know it absolutely isn't.

(The title is sort of a dead giveaway if you've seen any of White Wolf's Storyteller games over the past 15 years. There's also the fact that Liu character tells her editor that the "vampires" she just published an article about were a bunch of wanna-bes that were playing "like D&D... but with nipple-rings" makes me believe even stronger there's a gaming campaign somewhere in this film's evolution.)

That aside, it's basically a paint-by-numbers modern-day vampire flick, with a victim who rises from the dead and wants to retain her humanity while getting revenge for her condition. It's an engaging enough movie, but there's nothing terribly original here, and there won't be any surprises for well-seasoned horror fans. (And those White Wolf gamers will find even fewer surprises... although that may be a selling point.)

There's nothing all that bad about the flick, but there's also nothing to make you go "wow!" while you're watching it.

Technically, it's a very pretty movie. The camera-work is decent, and the director has a good notion of now to stage and pace an action flick. He's a little less adept at invoking horror and dread, having to rely mostly on "Boo!"-type scares, although the scene where Liu's character wakes up in the morgue shows that Gutierrez might be able to produce a scarier movie. It's definately the horror high point of the film. (On the other hand, he probably should not attempt comedy. The two scenes that are clearly intended to be comic relief fall flatter than a pancake.)

Acting-wise, the film is mostly decent. Everyone is playing figures more than characters, except for Liu... and she demonstrates that she probably should stick to light-weight action roles or utter coldhearted bitch parts. She was at her weakest when she was trying to portray emotions such as sorry or uncertainty, with only the scene where she calls her mother on the phone after her "death" being the only such scene where her performance is convincing. She does fine as the hardbitten, vampire-asskicker, but her range seems to fail her otherwise.

In the end, I think lovers of slick-looking, Beautiful People Vampires movies will enjoy this film. (You'll enjoy it twice as much if you prefer playing Toreador or Ventrue Clan vampires in White Wolf games.) It might be worth seeing for the rest of you horror and action fans out there, just don't expect anything you haven't seen before.


  1. Ehhh you'd thik Lui would make a good hottie vamp but she was blah.

    Very forgettable flick.

  2. Did she ever have a real career? Everybody knows her name, but like, name some movies she's in beside Kill Bill and Charlies Angels.

  3. "Lucky Number Slevin" was one that I enjoyed... and will get around to reposting the review of over at "Watching the Detectives" sooner or later. I think she's also done a handful of lowbuget festival-circuit/direct-to-DVD thrillers where I have the impression she played a variant of the character she portrayed on "Ally McBeal." I haven't seen any of those movies, however.