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Blood: The Last Vampire is a multinational action-fantasy

Posted by GoreMaster Special Effects on July 8, 2009

Jeon Ji-hyun

   Mirroring its half-blood vampire-slaying heroine, the English-language Blood: The Last Vampire is a hybrid child created by the production arms of Hong Kong’s Edko and France’s Pathé. It’s a mixed gene pool of talent with Korean sweetheart Jeon Ji-hyun (acquiring the moniker Gianna) in her hyped Hollywood debut. She displays ample aptitude for being an action heroine, doing most of her own tendon-twisting martial-arts stunts and looking utterly fetching in a sailor suit that could turn any guy into a uniform fetishist.
   Blood will spill across Asia’s action-packed market as a swankier-than-average item. A summer release stateside through Samuel Goldwyn confers some mainstream status on it. Specialty fans of Japanese manga or games will more readily plug into its CGI-centric world.
   With Asian stars Gianna, Koyuki and Yasuaki Kurata raising the bar in skill and glamour, the entire Western cast (including second lead Allison Miller from 17 Again) appears to be tagged on to make the production look more “Hollywood.”
   Chris Nahon is the director, and Chris Chow wrote the screenplay. VFX and overall aesthetic design are cool. Corey Yuen helms a seasoned Chinese stunt crew that features  high-concept action choreography.
   Adapted from the 2001 anime developed by Mamoru Oshii, Blood opens in 1970s Tokyo. Saya (Gianna) has been raised by loyal retainer Kato (Kurata) to kill Onigen (Koyuki, regal in white), the oldest and wickedest of mutating bloodsuckers. This Japanese Buffy is a fast sword-wielder who tracks Onigen down while ripping through low-rung demons with an entourage of Men-in-Black in tow to clean up after her.GoreMaster Makeup Effects Manual

   Tipped off by a secret society called the Council that vampires are making mischief at the Yokota U.S. Airbase, she enrolls at the precinct’s school and rescues Alice (Miller), the general’s daughter, from demonic bullies and murderous “X-Files”-type agents. That Saya is 400 years old but passes for 16, is invulnerable and craves human blood suspiciously suggests vampire DNA. What sets her apart is the possession of a soul, plus table manners—she sips blood from nicely refrigerated bottles, while demons are messy diners who maul their prey.
   Editing is a snappy mishmash of jump cuts and slow motion that has comic-book or gaming effects.  The first big fight makes nifty use of tight corners in a street set where Gianna does some knockout stunts that connect fluidly with a thrilling CGI-enabled shot of her charging through a dozen walls.
   The second is set in a forest. Corey Yuen is of course aware that Kurosawa, King Hu, Ching Siu-tong et al. have made it the archetypal action location. His choreography is a fun homage that integrates the vertiginous moves of Chinese martial arts with the rigorous symmetry of Japanese tate sword-fighting. Kurata, who was a huge crossover action star in Asia during the ’70s, fights fabulously, making one wonder why he is not put to better use earlier.
   The final confrontation between Saya and Onigen seems more predictable by comparison. It does use elaborate wire work that makes the actresses look as invincible as their immortal roles.

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