– Summary –
Director : Chris Nahon
Year Of Release : 2009
Principal Cast : Jun Ji-hyun, Allison Miller, Masiela Lusha, JJ Feild, Koyuki, Liam Cunninhgam.
Approx Running Time : 91 Minutes
Synopsis: The film focuses on a half-human, half-vampire girl named Saya, who hunts full-blooded vampires in partnership with humans and seeks to destroy Onigen, the most powerful of vampires.
What we think : 20% on Rotten Tomatoes tells you a lot.
As a general rule, I don’t take much heed when I see posters and previews for live-action remakes of anime. However, while in London in 2009 I came across something while walking Piccadilly Circus that had me bubbling with ecstatic elation. A remake of one of my favorite anime short films — Blood: The Last Vampire. What captured me and actually had my hopes raised in anticipation was the fact that the star of the film was an Asian woman. You mean a remake of an anime that’s NOT completely white-washed?! Sign me up and take my $10 donation!
Now, at that point I didn’t have glasses and couldn’t see extreme detail, but now I do. Upon further inspection of the actual poster, I realized that the actress playing the Japanese vampire half-breed was none other than Gianna Jun, a coquettish South Korean actress. Last time I checked Japan and SK were kinda NOT closely related in any other way than simply being part of Asia. This, of course, is a result of much of Hollywood’s motto as regards portraying people of Eastern ethnic descent: any Asian will do. That should’ve been my first clue that not only were my hopes going to be dashed, they were about to be beaten up, spat upon, and called names as they lay shuddering and gasping for breath on the cold, hard concrete.
The prospect of having a fully realized adaptation was so exciting that my expectation of the film was much higher than it probably should have been. I’d conjured up some sort of grand fantasy about the beauty of the film, which was bristling with a great deal of raw potential. In the end, however, this fantasy was flung to the rocks at the bottom of a craggy cliff of disappointment.
I won’t get into the finer details of the plot; however, the foundation of the script is still relatively similar to that of its animated predecessor. A girl with a sixth sense for the undead and bloodthirsty is sent on a mission at a school on an American military base. She is to root out and destroy the ferocious beasts lurking within the student population, one of which is apparently the Queen Bee of the lot in that area. From there the similarities desist.
From the very first scene, the one thing that stands out in this movie is the absolute fakeness of it — a hilarious concept, considering it’s meant to steep the sensational ideas of the anime in a more concrete reality. As far-fetched as the idea of a girl who has the ability to kill demon vampires seems one can suspend reality enough to focus on the story and the action at hand. In this live-action retelling, the first scene we get is a clichéd and archaic introduction, the words, of course, scrolling down the screen in a shimmering gold font. If the choice of actress wasn’t already a dead giveaway, the fact that the filmmakers assumed their core audience consisted of people who were easily distracted by bright colors should’ve instantly made me fling my television out my window.
Unfortunately, I’m a “benefit of the doubt” type person. Surely, SURELY this couldn’t be the very reincarnation of the eye molestation that was every fan’s worst nightmare come true in Dragonball? Surely, they hadn’t decided they were gonna take another stab at it with another poor, defenseless anime that hadn’t done anything to deserve such treatment?
I guess they did.
Lo and behold, we’ve another mind-f*ck of a film, complete with all the trappings of cinematic failure that ensure movies of this ilk are one and done at the cinema, then flung into a $5 throwaway bin in Wal-Mart. Absurd fighting sequences, stilted acting, and what was supposed to be our fear-inducing vampire juggernaut was nothing more than a throw away costume from Guillermo del Toro’s El Laberinto del Fauno combined with some sort of awkward looking horse creature. After about the first 15 minutes I was so completely offended that I had to take a walk around my neighborhood just to clear my mind of all the disgust.
Though this isn’t particularly the worst film I’ve ever seen, it’s pretty damn high on the list. As it is, I’ve gone through extensive cathartic therapy writing out my unadulterated anger at Night for his evil spawn of a movie The Last Airbender, so there’s no need for me to harp on it any longer. So a crown jewel of the dynasty of failure in my mind is none other than this unearthly stinker.
By some weird happenstance I’ve got two copies of the thing. I keep trying to give it another chance, but every time I pop it in the DVD player, about five minutes in I’m itching to punch something. So if anyone’s looking to throw away 90 minutes…