Anchor Bay // 2009 // 83 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard // March 1st, 2011
"This is good and evil shit, straight out of The Bible."
Warning to vampire lovers: The Bleeding will send you batty.
On returning from serving his country in Afghanistan, Shawn Black (Michael Matthias) finds his parents have been brutally murdered. Worse still, his brother -- who also served in Afghanistan -- has apparently been reborn as the Vampire King, Kane.
Aided by a rather unorthodox priest (Michael Madsen, Reservoir Dogs), Black sets out to wipe out the vampire horde threatening world domination, and slay his brother.
Opening midway through the final showdown -- which is highly reminiscent of Fast and Furious -- before abruptly cutting back to events three days earlier, director Charlie Picerni's The Bleeding is quick to admit that originality isn't going to be its strong suit. Sadly, neither is good storytelling, action, or horror; it's actually quite difficult to see just what the point of this suckfest really is. Wearing its influences with all the subtlety of a fourteen-year-old with his parents' home video camera, The Bleeding goes on to rip off everything from Blade to From Dusk Till Dawn. Yet, while the films it apes had fun with the vampire mythos, The Bleeding hardly feels like a vampire movie at all. In fact, there's no reason whatsoever this film couldn't have nixed the undead element all together; it really adds little to the story.
Indeed, The Bleeding seems confused as to how best to integrate the supernatural elements into the plot. In the world of The Bleeding, vampires are stripped of their more familiar traits. Gone is the sexiness, the gothic look, and the romanticism. In their place we get a bunch of greasy-haired bikers, who -- judging by the strange wheezing sounds coming from them -- are suffering from severe bronchitis. Similarly, the rules on killing vampires seem a little confused. Apparently, because he shares "the king's blood," only Black can slay his brother, the vampire king, Kane. Now, I only have one question: If a bullet through the heart, or a decapitation can kill a vampire -- as we are told throughout the film -- why in the holy hell would it matter who pulled the trigger!? It makes zero sense, even for DTV garbage like this.
Structurally the film is all over the place. It seems to want to integrate so many different elements that they never gel into a cohesive storyline. Rather than establish its characters, The Bleeding just throws them at you and refuses to develop them as the movie progresses. Judged purely as an action movie, The Bleeding still comes up short. Even a twelve-year-old boy (the most forgiving of all audiences as long as there's some quality action and a little T&A) will be bored rigid. Beyond the final 20 minutes, which also has hints of The Road Warrior, the film barely breaks a sweat; instead it seems content to meander from one scene to the next with little but Michaels' Madsen and Matthias growling at each other, each confusing sounding hoarse with being tough.
Vin Diesel's, sorry, Michael Matthias' narration soon becomes tiresome, filled as it is with stereotypical macho BS. Within the first ten minutes alone, we get such gems as, "Time to man up," then there's, "Eh, that's mothers; waddaya gonna do?" and not forgetting "Cops: they might be necessary, but I trusted that clown about as far as he could throw me." When he's not spouting his pearls of wisdom, Matthias can be found walking through the woods, looking moody, as he contemplates his destiny as "the slayer." Perhaps better material will see his star rise, but there's little here to suggest Matthias as a potential heir to Schwarzenegger's vacant throne, despite his imposing frame. Vinnie Jones could never be confused with being a great actor, but in the likes of The Condemned and Snatch was actually pretty good. Here, dressed like a Russian pimp and asked to deliver his lines with an American accent while sporting a set of false dentures, he finds himself out of his depth. An ex-professional soccer player, it speaks volumes about Jones' acting career that he is probably still best known in the U.K. for squeezing the testicles of fellow player Paul Gascoigne midway through a match -- something his performance here is unlikely to change.
The Bleeding comes to DVD with a solid 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer. Blacks are good, and while colors are a little muted, the image retains its sharpness throughout. The 5.1 soundtrack never quite manages to really deliver the kick you'd hope for during the action scenes, but still ensures dialogue is clear at all time. Onto the extras, and along with short featurettes on the stunt work and makeup effects, we have a selection of cast interviews. These interviews see everyone talking about how making the film was "fun overall," but their eyes-ah, their eyes-they reveal the truth that even they know exactly what a crock this is. Not even Armand Assante -- who amazingly has gets more screen time in his interview than he does in the actual movie, will fail to convince you otherwise, despite his best efforts to blind you from the truth when he waxes lyrical about the film, and its "code."
Okay, it doesn't last long, but there's one scene -- and one scene only -- where Picerni nails it. Black is out on the hunt, when he comes across a foul demon cutting up helpless (but hot and scantily clad) young ladies in a chamber beneath a nightclub. For just a few short minutes, The Bleeding feels nasty, but, due to the lack of follow through, this scene only really serves to highlight just how awful the rest of the film is.
Though not his finest performance, Michael Madsen stands out here. While it would be true to say the rest of the cast are pretty abysmal, Madsen occasionally reminds us he was once an actual talent.
This. Movie. Sucks.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Official Site