MTI // 2008 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // October 31st, 2008
The Vampire Hunters Are Now...THE HUNTED.
"Your friend...was delicious."
When Julian (Tony Todd, Candyman), the head of a vampire coven, looks for an heir, his sights fall upon Will (A.J. Draven), a college student at the local campus. After having one of his minions bite Will, and thus turn him into one of the undead, Julian must see if his protégé can overcome the ultimate test and prove his worth.
Legend states that to become head vampire, one must first kill a sentry, a member of an elite group of vampire hunters who help maintain the balance between good and evil. This is the task placed before Will, if he is to succeed Julian.
Finding himself in the middle of a centuries-old war, Will must decide where his loyalties lie; his decision may well decide the fate of all involved.
Under normal circumstances, I would begin this review by saying that Blood Wars took 90 minutes of my life that I'll never get back. However, thanks to daylight saving time, I got one hour back, meaning I'm only 30 minutes out of pocket; I can live with that. The film's distinct lack of both blood and war, on the other hand, is slightly less forgivable.
Proving the maxim that you should never judge a book by its cover, Blood Wars sports a DVD cover that bears little relation to the movie contained within. Suggesting the viewer should prepare themselves for an epic struggle between good and evil, Blood Wars instead proved to be one of the most mind-numbingly dull movies I've seen in a long, long time. For one thing, there's a noticeable shortfall in the numbers on each side of the good and evil divide. In reality, this is less a war and more a minor skirmish, the likes of which you might see in any school playground following a dispute over who's harder, Ben 10 or Spongebob Squarepants.
While I'm on my soapbox, I'll raise another issue with the whole "war" element of the movie. Fair enough, I'm prepared to write off the number of participants as a budgetary issue, but I can't understand the reasoning behind the lack of focus on said war. Although the similarly themed Underworld had its share of problems, that film at least managed to tell the story of a man dragged into a supernatural conflict, while simultaneously ensuring the war remained both interesting and central to the events unfolding. So much time in Blood Wars is spent on the mundane goings on of Will and his college buddies that, unintentionally or not, the war between the vampires and the sentries seems like an afterthought. Whenever it does get dragged up all we get is some mumbo jumbo about ancient prophecies that feels like a poorly written attempt at aping movies like the aforementioned Underworld and Blade.
Perhaps had Will been a more appealing character this wouldn't have mattered. As things stands though, Will feels like an amalgamation of characters from Night Watch, Underworld, and The Matrix, an innocent who suddenly finds himself acting as the decider in an "epic" war. Unlike those films, Will never becomes a character the viewer wants to get behind; he remains paper-thin and lacking in charisma throughout.
Seeing Tony Todd reduced to wearing a vampire costume -- one I'd wager will be bested by most 7-year-olds this Halloween -- is just upsetting. Has the wardrobe department no respect for the man? But then, with a role that hardly makes the most of Todd's screen presence, feeding him unremarkable dialogue and having him spend most of the movie with a totally miscast Jason Connery, it's questionable whether anyone involved in this movie has any idea of Todd's previous work.
Working from the debut script of writer Ramesh Thadani, director Tom Shell shows little sign of lifting himself from the DTV crowd. His film is lacking totally in artistic merit, with a shooting style that suggests the director prefers the point and shoot approach to actually planning shots beforehand.
Zero extras only add to the woes that befall the Blood Wars DVD release. An uninspiring 5.1 soundtrack does little to elevate the move from the mundane, and joins a flat, dull 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer.
Though it amounts to very little in the grand scheme of things, Blood Wars contains some well-choreographed fight sequences in the film's final half-hour. Please don't mistake my comments for glowing praise, they're hardly spectacular fights, but, thanks largely to leading man A.J. Draven's martial arts background, the fight sequences at least have an air of authenticity.
Someone, somewhere, will dig the hell out of Blood Wars. The law of averages demands it. If, by some chance, you meet this person, do not pour scorn on them. Instead, show them some compassion, for they were not born with the same common sense the rest of us were and deserve our pity.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R