Thursday, February 28, 2013

'Blood' is a fine anime adaptation

Blood: The Last Vampire (2009)
Starring: Gianna Jun, Allison Miller, Liam Cunningham, JJ, Field, Masiela Lusha, Larry Lamb, and Koyuki
Director: Chris Nahon
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

The battle between a secret society and their demon opponents comes to a head in 1970s Japan when the latest seek-and-destroy mission for 400-year-old immortal Saya (Jun) uncovers a demonic infestation on an American Army base is being coordinated by the most powerful demon of all, Onigen (Koyuki).

"Blood: The Last Vampire" is a live-action adaptation of the Japanese animated series "Blood", and those roots show most clearly in a roof-top chase sequence where Saya is trying to save a hapless American girl from the winged demon that is carrying her off -- with camera angles and the framing of shots feeling as if they were meticulously matched with whatever might have been in the original source.

we get everythig but speedlines coming off the her feet as we see them in close-up as Saya is running along the roof. However, the film is a veritable smorgasbord of genres and styles, all jumbled together in a fun stew of action/adventure, espionage, martial arts, historical melodrama, and, of course, gory bloodspattered horror. Its particularly fascinating the way the hues of the lighting and sets change when the film shifts from action to horror mode and back again.

There are some aspects of the film that don't make a whole lot of sense, such as why an ancient and super-secret demon-fighting society is so poor at planning that they don't have cover IDs that stand up to even the slightest scrutiny, or are so inept at inserting undercover operatives that they send their agent into an American school on an American military base wearing a Japanese high school "sailor suit" uniform--but in the big picture of this fast-moving and exciting film, those are minor complaints.

The acting is all-around decent, with stars Gianna Jun and Allison Miller being both energetic and likeable in their performances. I suspect that both fans of the original cartoon and those who can't stand anime will like this movie equally. There's enough of an anime look and feel that I suspect this is a faithful adaptation, but there's more than enough slicing and dicing of demons and weird conspiracy action that the anime haters will be happy, too. Heck, even if you don't like reading subtitles, this is an Asian film that you'll enjoy as most of the dialogue is in English.

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