Sony // 2007 // 122 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 26th, 2007
Seduce. Trap. Feast.
Lucy Liu (Charlie's Angels) dons the fangs for her shot at the vampire mythology and teams with Michael Chiklis (The Shield) to bring the pain to a gaggle of undead metrosexuals.
Liu plays intrepid reporter Sadie Blake, who lands the story of her life when she gets the lowdown on an underground culture that goes way beyond trippy goth. Turns out she has inadvertently stumbled upon a nest of vampires, headed by hornball Eurotrash extraordinaire Bishop (James D'Arcy) and his saucy sidekick Eve (Carla Gugino, Sin City).
One thing leads to another and Blake finds herself in a gooey threesome with Bishop and his female counterpart. She later ends up in a morgue, alive and kicking and rocking an unquenchable thirst for human blood her life and this fearsome metamorphosis will permanently change her life, which will now be dedicated to exacting revenge on all undead mofos unfortunate enough to cross her path.
She will be aided in her quest by disillusioned, drunken, loose-cannon cop Clyde Rawlins (Chiklis).
Whoa, lots of names to be found in this production, but the star power falls short of propelling this pleasantly-staged though ultimately disappointing spin on the thoroughly flogged vampire genre. Writer-director Sebastian Gutierrez brings a nice visual style to the proceedings but the low-key, cerebral nature of the horror and some lackadaisical plot momentum will likely banish this sucker to the forgotten, nameless realm of the forgotten Blockbuster stacks.
I'll credit Gutierrez with trying to do something slightly new with the vampire mythology. Gone are the fangs and the weirdo eyeballs and the leaping and flying about and the wooden stakes through the heart, replaced by an emphasis on sex, all-night arterial spray guzzling and suburban decadence. Problem is, it's all pretty boring and actually made me long for the clichés. Take, for example, the turning process, usually just a "drink some of this sanguine and voila!" routine, but here converting someone to a vamp is an all-night affair requiring lots of making out and lathering up in A-positive and some other confusing elements that just seemed drawn out and different for the sake of being drawn out and different.
The promise of the disc seemed to indicate bodacious vampire slaying by Lucy Liu, but that's a disappointment as well. Her character has but one weapon, a diminutive crossbow. Her hunting consists of talking smack to her prey then firing some bolts into his or her chest. Also, boring. And not much mention of how a journalist for an independent newspaper transformed into such an expert crossbow-wielder. I was hoping for some righteous hunting, but that hope was unfulfilled as action was not a priority.
The film instead divides its focus on Blake's struggle with balancing the bloodlust with a conscience (and usually, it's not a successful balancing act, leading to some abhorrent acts on her part that Gutierrez tries to soften, but it doesn't work and she comes away looking like a @#$%&) and Rawlins' handling of the supernatural unknown and, finally, the moral equivalence the vampire community. What this means is, you're in for a lot of talking and sneaking around and the occasional throat rip and not much else.
To end this on a compliment, I have to hand it to Lucy Liu who holds nothing back in her dedication to the role. This girl is strung, upside-down and topless for a lengthy scene. Yowzas. Oh, and speaking of which, despite the sex-drenched mythos there is very little erotic content and most nudity is of the weirdly disturbing kind, like the aforementioned.
The special edition sports 23 extra minutes of footage (leading to a more bloated pacing in my opinion), transferred in a sharp 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. A 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track accompanies, but there's not a lot for it to do. In the extras bin, you can sink your teeth into a series of short behind-the-scenes featurettes and a storyboard comparison.
Lucy Liu, fit as a fiddle, dispatching vampires and locking lips with Carla Gugino may sound cool on paper, but in action...eh.
Sit, blood hunter.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 122 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated