Vivendi Visual Entertainment // 2005 // 94 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 2nd, 2006
Revenge never tasted so sweet.
Uwe Boll is back to tantalize you with another video game-inspired big screen treatment. This time, the marginally recognizable heroine of Majesco's BloodRayne franchise gets Bolled over. Can blood and guts and topless Kristanna Loken reverse the fortunes of the man fanboys love to hate the most?
Loken (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines) plays the husky-voiced Rayne, a vampire-human hybrid who lives in a traveling freak show and is put on display for idiot 18th century Romanians who've never seen a real vampire before. But she's no ordinary bloodsucking freak. This one has some grand destiny. Of course.
One night, an overly amorous carnie sneaks into her trailer and tries to get his groove on with Rayne, but she isn't having any of it, and quickly dispatches him with much blood and sinew flying every which way. Juiced up from the shot of O-positive, she runs through the entire fairground, smiting any sucka that gets in her way. Rayne is loose, and she's ready to skewer chumps with her dual-wielding swords (which she picks up on the fairgrounds).
Meanwhile, three representatives from the vampire-hunting Brimstone Society are hot on her trail, sensing she has a role to play in overthrowing their arch-nemesis, uber-vampire Kagan (Ben Kingsley, House of Sand and Fog). Vladimir (Michael Madsen, Kill Bill: Volume 2) is the fearless leader, Sebastian (Matthew Davis) is the athletic stud, and Katarin (Michelle Rodriguez, Blue Crush) is the shifty daughter of a shifty noble (Billy Zane), whose intentions are unclear.
Eventually, they all unite, after the Brimstoners spring Rayne from the clutches of a hornball vampire (Meat Loaf!) and his harem of naked vampire whores. Our heroes regroup at the Brimstone Society and decide to train Rayne as one of their own. But she is an incorrigible little spitfire, and after bumping uglies with Sebastian, getting into a catfight with Katarin, and generally driving the male members of the Brimstone Society batty with her cleavage-augmenting jumpsuit, she takes off to face down Kagan and bring him and his horde to their knees.
This is my first ever Uwe Boll film. Up until this point I have stayed away from the man's endeavors, persuaded by the overwhelming negativity surrounding his work that my time would be better used by psychologically torturing ants than devoting an hour or so to House of the Dead or Alone in the Dark. But here I am, now ready to reveal my experience with his third video-game-to-feature-film, no longer a Uwe virgin. Let's get it on.
BloodRayne is a profoundly bad movie. Despite the impressive cast, the acting is abysmal, the make-up and costuming is amateurish, the plot is boring and the direction hamfisted. But here's the thing: the movie's not hate-yourself-in-the-morning bad. It's so bad, so cheesy, so ridiculous, that, lo and behold, like a spring flower emerging from a pile of fetid compost, a modicum of fun is evident within the film's awfulness. Yes, kids, I was fairly entertained by Uwe Boll's BloodRayne.
Here's my rationale: without the stigma of Uwe Boll's name attached to the project, as well as the sad sight of respectable actors sullying their reputation, BloodRayne would almost stand on its own as a goofy, gory, slutty guilty pleasure. With all that baggage excised, you'd have a noteworthy camp-fest.
The most damaging aspect of the film, though, is the overt self-importance that saturates the proceedings (augmented by the commentary track, a delirious bit of aggrandizing from Boll and his associates). It's obvious, though, Boll was after a serious offering into the vampire genre, and had delusions of grandeur with his sweeping vistas and swelling orchestral scores and attempts at character development. "A good movie," he says in all seriousness at the end of the film during his commentary. No, Uwe, it isn't. But it's not without value. Allow me show you all what I'm talking about.
Bizarro BloodRayne: Comparatively Analyzing the Intentions and Unintended Consequences of Uwe Boll's Film Conceits.
* Michael Madsen as Vladimir
Intention: Take a recognized actor, beloved for his roles as a badass
in a couple of Quentin Tarantino movies and insert him into a vampire movie as a
growling slayer of the undead.
Unintended Consequence: Laughter. Madsen is barely engaged in what's going on around him. He looks entirely uncomfortable with his sword, and his fighting scenes are incredibly awkward; I don't buy for a second that this pudgy, middle-aged warrior is the ultimate enemy of the most powerful vampire in the world. And for some reason, the costuming department felt that it served the character well by forcing Madsen to wear a dead platypus on his head.
* Rayne's Fighting Ability
Intention: Arm a gorgeous babe with two blades and let her kick
Unintended Consequence: Awkwardness. Loken is hot, but a hand-to-hand expert she is not. She was able to shoot laser-balls out of her CGI robot arm convincingly enough in Terminator 3, but force her to twirl around and wield a pair of blades and the girl doesn't look like she could defeat a birch tree, much less an army of vampires.
* Michelle Rodriguez and Ben Kingsley: Exercises in Minimalism
Intention: Get two more well-known actors to glower a lot and
transmit angst and menace.
Unintended Consequence: Pain. The best line of the commentary track is probably Boll saying how Kingsley went for a "minimalist" performance, which was what Boll wanted anyway. Judging by Ben's performance, it's apparent the "minimalism" he was alluding to was in fact "I'm phoning this thing in because I need the money to buy a new sailboat." Rodriguez does her exact same bad-girl schtick she does in everything she's in, except with a pasted-on faux Eurotrash accent.
* Gore Galore
Intention: Titillate fans of blood and guts with great-looking
Unintended Consequence: More laughter. Courtesy of German schlock-slinger Olaf Ittenbach, the splatter is copious, vivid, and ludicrous. Heads are chopped off, torsos ripped in half, throats exposed to red geysers, chests slashed, arrows shot into the eyeball, blades plunged into mouths, limbs severed, corpses hacked apart, and much, much more. So over-the-top it's funny.
* One Word: Meat. One More Word: Loaf.
Intention: Uhhh, appeal to the seven Meat Loaf fans out there?
Unintended Consequence: Uncomfortable, debilitating confusion. In a completely superfluous sequence, Meat Loaf plays some sultan vampire with a pile of naked vampire ladies fawning all over him (Boll neither confirmed nor denied the rumor that these extras were all authentic Romanian prostitutes). The only purposes this scene serves are: 1) increase the boobs count, and 2) show Meat Loaf frying from sunlight exposure and turning to goo.
This movie validates its existence solely because of its crappiness. I really think you and your drunken cohorts would have a potentially fine time watching BloodRayne, from guffawing at Madsen lumbering around in tights to the fountains of fake blood to some awesomely bad writing (my favorite: Kagan demanding Rayne to "give" him her heart, with her replying he will have to cut it out from her. What, he expects her to take a scalpel to her chest and carve it out for him?!?) to Loken's sudden and shoe-horned shedding of clothes. There is much trash to linger over. If, however, you go in expecting a thrilling, serious genre experience, you will doubtlessly come away crushingly disappointed.
The movie looks fine in its anamorphic 1.85:1 incarnation. Detailing is sharp and the colors are stout (the blood looks especially juicy). In the audio department, the 5.1 mix is fairly active, though the mediocre soundtrack tends to overwhelm everything else. The extras range from stupid to surreal. On the stupid end: a sound-free montage of CGI work and some uninteresting storyboards. Surreal: the commentary track with Uwe Boll and some cast and crew as they fawn over their vampire epic is bad enough, but wait until you see "Dinner with Uwe." A couple of staff members from IGN shovel Chinese food into their mouths while talking to Boll for 45 minutes about his early influences, his draw to video game movies, upcoming projects (apparently his treatment of Postal will be akin to Pulp Fiction and Sin City, God help us all), the Internet, the effects of bad reviews, the infamous insertion of video game footage into House of the Dead (which he admitted was a stupid mistake), and his ability to maintain a career (the ease and cost-effectiveness of his productions). If you ever wanted the skinny straight from Boll's mouth, here is your chance. Just prepare yourself for some major-league bootlicking by his dinner guests; the one guy confessed to watching House of the Dead 10 times!!!
Finally, to sweeten the deal, Majesco has included a full, playable PC version of BloodRayne 2. I'm not sure if it's any good, but it does work.
I don't know how fans of the video game will take to this movie. If memory serves, the Rayne character from the game ran around with guns and stuff. Still, I don't think it's really one of the more beloved intellectual properties, so there should be a minimum of twisted knickers over the revisionist mythos.
BloodRayne stinks, but it's not devoid of value. I am convinced you could have a decent time with this bloody, trashy Z-grade vampire flick, but I submit there would need to be a good amount of hallucinogenic fungi on hand.
Guilty, yeah, but the court isn't pissed or anything.
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Vivendi Visual Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Director's Commentary
* CGI Featurette
* "Dinner with Uwe"
* "BloodRayne 2" PC Game