Anchor Bay // 1998 // 192 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 7th, 2005
Part seductress. Part assassin. All vampire.
Hey look! Another vampire movie! Will this undead offering from across the pond do anything new with this much-flogged genre, or should it just be strapped to a bat and sent back?
Eileen Daly stars as Lilith Silver, a restless vampire who takes up contract killing as employment. She finds the pay lucrative and the blood supply plentiful. Plus, she gets to work for her boy-toy lover.
Recently, her works has been getting extra-gruesome. Her jobs have taken her into the web of the Illuminati, a sect headed by the very same stud vampire that turned her into a bodacious fang fatale a hundred or so years ago.
The, er, stakes get raised, when her boss is captured and used as bait to lure Silver into the clutches of the Illuminati. Now she will have to call upon all of her seductive wiles and her trusty handguns to take down the greatest enemy she has ever faced.
The best thing Razor Blade Smile has going for it is the premise. A vampire assassin...hey that's pretty cool (unless were talking about Vampire Assassins). Add to that, our assassin is this hot British number who enjoys tight leather and random lesbian encounters.
Unfortunately, this idea never evolves into the potential font of coolness it could have. There are a lot of things that bugged me about this film, but I can boil it down to two: the style and the action.
On the surface, Razor Blade Smile has all the ingredients to make it a worthy entry into the pantheon of "hot vampire chick" movies: lots of blood, gratuitous sex, violence all over the place, seedy, smoky hangouts, a righteous Eurotrash dude as the head vampire, a curvaceous female lead clad in flesh-hugging leather, and a loud, throbbing soundtrack.
Sadly, a fun experience was not to be had for this reviewer. The most annoying aspect of Razor Blade Smile was the stylistic feel of the film. Director Jake West (who also wrote the script) just seems to try too hard making his movie look hip and cool. He overuses several camera filters, specifically one that renders everything onscreen a washed-out blue. His edits are kinetic and distracting, making some of the action extremely hard to follow (example: the mandatory vampire lesbian scene is nonsensical with all the color saturation, lightning-quick cuts, and blurring). The look of the movie is reminiscent of the MTV-style of ADD filmmaking that I find so irritating.
As far as the mayhem goes...well, it doesn't go so far. For a movie about a vampire hitwoman, Razor Blade Smile sports some static, boring action sequences. There's a drawn-out opening bit where Lilith kills a mark then engages in a ridiculous shootout with his bodyguards on a tennis court. She's jumping over the net while the goons, displaying the marksmanship of a cross-eyed Stormtrooper, miss wildly. There are two other big action set-pieces, taking place at the end of the film, involving Lilith's daring rescue of her boyfriend and her subsequent quest for vengeance. The same problems plague these as well: uninteresting camera shots and blah execution by the actors. Basically, there's just a lot of standing around and shooting, with a few exceptions (a nice, bloody beheading at the end for one).
Also, I didn't quite get the vampire mythology espoused in the movie. Now I'm no expert on undead lore, but isn't it pretty much widely accepted that vampires can't hang around outside during the day? Virtually all of Lilith's outdoors scenes happen in the daylight. Then again, it was overcast. I guess that's why Britain would be the preferable stomping ground for a vampire.
The disc case says that the film is presented in full-frame, but it's actually like a 1.78:1 non-anamorphic letterbox. The picture quality is okay, but those damned annoying filters smother any potential for rich colors and detailing. The 5.1 Dolby mix is active, and the aggressive score should rattle the speaker stands.
The extras: Daly and West deliver an insightful commentary track; a long, robust documentary called "Slices of Life" goes deep into the process of the making Razor Blade Smile; the deleted scenes are ho-hum; the outtake reel features bloopers and extended sex scenes (?); and trailers round out the offering.
The distracting nature of the film's visual style and the flatness of the action direction torpedoed Razor Blade Smile for me. Sure, Daly is gorgeous and the idea is cool, and yeah the characters have British accents and that always helps, but I see nothing to elevate it beyond the bin of forgettable creatures-of-the-night-knock-offs.
Guilty of generic vampire filmmaking in the third degree. The accused is sentenced to seven years at the Dracula 3000 Institute for the Criminally Dumb.
Review content copyright © 2005 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 192 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Director and Star Commentary
* "Slices of Life" Documentary
* Deleted Scenes
* CG Test Shots