Before the X-Men and Spider-Man movies hit the big screen, and years before the MCU was even an idea in a producer’s mind, this movie was Marvel’s first real foray back onto the big screen. Yes, I know that technically Men In Black would be first but they were part of an offshoot that had been bought and not necessarily part of Marvel proper. Anyways, I was a fan of Blade and the rest of the supernaturally inclined anti-heroes that were part of Marvel in the mid 90’s so when I heard that they were doing a movie based on Blade, with Wesley Snipes starring in it, I was absolutely on board. Opening night me and several of my friends went and saw Blade in theaters. We then had a late dinner afterwards where we got some absolutely terrible service but that did nothing to take away from how much fun we had watching Blade.
The plot: In 1967, a pregnant woman is brought into the hospital, bleeding out from a bite wound to the neck. As the doctors work on saving her, she goes into labor and she delivers a baby but ends up dying from her wound. In the present, a woman brings a date to a secret rave in a meat packing plant but as the party commences, the sprinklers suddenly begin releasing blood onto the people dancing around. As the young man freaks out from all of the blood everywhere, he realizes that everyone in attendance is a vampire and starts freaking out even more. As he tries to escape, he is pummeled by the crowd until he runs into Blade, a vampire hunter that the vampires refer to as “The Daywalker” due to his half-breed nature. As some of the vampires begin fleeing the club, Blade begins killing the vampires that fight against him, until he is down to just a vampire named Quinn. Pinning Quinn to a wall with silver stakes, Blade sets him on fire, then checks the young man when he tries to run away, ensuring that he wasn’t bitten, but Blade is forced to run himself when the police and fire department arrive. Quinn’s body is taken to the hospital morgue and Dr. Curtis Webb sends a blood sample up to Dr. Karen Jenson, a hematologist, as the blood has some weird aspects to it. Karen agrees to examine the body and goes down there with Curtis, but as they discuss their former relationship, Quinn suddenly comes back to life and proceeds to bite Curtis, then attack Karen. As he starts to drink Karen’s blood, Blade shows up and stops him, cutting off his hand as the two begin fighting, but when security shows up and shoots at Blade, Quinn uses the opportunity to escape. Blade starts to leave Karen but when he suddenly thinks about his dying mother, he instead decides to take her with him. When the police show up in force, Blade rushes off with Karen and heads to the broken window Quinn escaped from. He throws Karen out the window to the building on the other side, then jumps over there himself, before grabbing her and escaping the police. Blade takes Karen to his hideout, where his mentor Whistler is working on making some more weapons. Whistler chastises Blade for not killing Karen but agrees to help her, injecting her with liquid garlic to try and stop the infection but tells Blade that he gives her a 50/50 chance of surviving the night. Meanwhile, a council of vampire Elders is discussing Deacon Frost’s nightclubs and the danger they create. After having Frost enter the chamber, they chastise him for the clubs and attempting to break the treaty they have with the humans but Frost, who leads a faction of younger, and non-pure blood vampires like the Elders, says that they should break the treaty as the humans are their food, not their partners. Later, Gitano Dragonetti, the head of the House of Eberus, confronts Frost in the archive room, where he is attempting to crack the dead language on some of the ancient pages from the records, and asks him what his game is but Frost refuses to answer and dares him to retaliate against him. Back at Blade’s hideout, Karen wakes up and after exploring a little bit, she sees Whistler injecting Blade with a serum that keeps his vampire hunger in check when they spot her. After preventing her initial escape attempt, Whistler explains about their war with the vampires and warns her that she should leave town so as to avoid being targeted, as she has been marked. Blade takes Karen back to her apartment but as she begins packing a bag to leave, a police officer appears in her apartment. Karen is suspicious of the officer, especially when he begins asking questions about Blade, and when he tries to attack her, she sprays him with a special mace that Whistler gave her to defend against vampires. Karen is surprised to find it doesn’t work but Blade appears and tells her the officer is a familiar, a servant to a vampire that hopes to one day become a vampire himself. Revealing that the officer works for Frost, whom Blade has been tracking for years, Blade tries to interrogate him to learn Frost’s location but Karen ends up stopping him from hurting him and the officer gets away. Knowing he will be back for his car, as he was delivering blood to Frost, Blade stakes it out and Karen joins him, as she figures the best way to find a cure for herself is to stay with him. Blade and Karen follow the officer to a vampire safehouse, and Blade arms Karen with some weapons before they head inside. After making his way past the guards, Blade confronts the officer again in the club’s kitchen before noticing a refrigerator marked do not open and tells the officer to give Frost a message for him, then lets the officer go while he heads inside the fridge, which houses the vampire archives. At his penthouse, Frost has finally finished translating the ancient texts, which contains the ritual on how to summon the vampire blood god La Magra. When the officer shows up Frost’s penthouse and tells him what happened, Frost kills the officer, to the delight of everyone there. Back at the archives, Blade and Karen encounter Pearl, the obese vampire historian, who was having a video call with Frost and begs him for help. Frost dismisses Pearl and taunts Blade before Blade destroys the monitor. Blade and Karen then question Pearl about the text she had translated for Frost, using a UV lamp on her when she refuses to answer. Blade takes the hard drive from the computer, then opens the vault to find the actual ancient scrolls but Quinn, Mercury, and some other vampires arrive and capture them. Quinn goes to torture Blade but Blade had secretly been in contact with Whistler, who shows up to rescue them. Blade, Karen, and Whistler make their way to the subway, but when a bomb that Blade had left in the archives explodes, Whistler appears to be thrown onto the tracks but Blade tells Karen he can take care of himself. Blade and Karen jump across the tracks before a train comes but Quinn follows them and begins attacking Blade. Karen helps Blade beat Quinn, resulting in his losing another hand, but when he sees Mercury and some more vampires coming, he grabs onto a passing train to help them escape. In Frost’s penthouse, Quinn and Mercury are arguing about whose fault Blade’s escape is when Frost says not to worry as they will deal with him later, telling them they have work to do. Frost, Mercury, and Quinn kidnap Dragonetti and take him out to the beach, where Frost proceeds to pull out his fangs before leaving him to burn to death as the sun rises. Frost then heads to the council of elders and informs them of Dragonetti’s death and tells them that he needs 12 volunteers, and has them taken away. At the hideout, Blade is preparing to go get some more serum when he sees Whistler and Karen bringing in some lab equipment, with Karen saying it was to help her find a cure. Karen shows Blade an anticoagulant called EDTA and places a drop on a sample of vampire blood, which causes it to violently explode. Blade asks if that is her cure and she says no but says that he could use it to explode some vampires. Karen then takes a sample of his blood while Whistler gets to work on the hard drive they took from Pearl. As Blade goes to buy some serum, he encounters Frost in a park, who is using sunblock to be out in the sun and is holding a child hostage. Frost tries to convince Blade to join him but Blade refuses and is forced to let Frost escape in order to rescue the child. Back at the hideout, Karen figures out a way to cure a vampire bite and uses it on herself but tells Whistler it won’t work on Blade, as it is part of his DNA, when Frost and his men show up and capture Karen while torturing Whistler. When Blade returns, he finds a badly injured and bitten Whistler, who tells him about the prophesy and Frost taking Karen, then asks Blade to give him a gun so he can kill himself. Blade does so and walks away while Whistler pulls the trigger, then he watches the video that Frost left for him, telling him where to go to save Karen. Arming himself for battle, including filling some syringe stakes with EDTA, Blade heads out to find Frost and kill him. At Frost’s penthouse, Frost and Mercury are taunting Karen but she counters back with the fact that she discovered a cure and she could cure Frost, as he isn’t pure blood. When Blade shows up and begins fighting the guards, he makes his way to Frost’s room only to discover that his mother is still alive and as she talks to him, Frost uses the distraction to capture him, revealing that he was the one that bit Blade’s mother and created him. Blade and Karen are taken to the Temple of the Eternal Night, so that they can enact the ritual and Frost taunts Blade some more before having him taken away. As Mercury takes the Elders to where they need to be for the ritual, Frost and Quinn take Karen to a room that has openings for a pit. Telling her about how sometimes people don’t become vampires when bitten, but become zombies instead, then shove her into a pit where she comes face to face with a zombiefied Curtis. As Curtis approaches her, Karen is able to knock him back, then uses a bone fragment to climb out of the pit. Blade is placed into a sarcophagus and restrained with special restraints intended to bleed him dry. As his blood drips from the sarcophagus into special drains in the floor, Mercury begins placing the elders into position underneath openings, where Blade’s blood proceeds to drip onto them. Meanwhile, Karen frees Blade from the sarcophagus, but, without his serum to help him, she tells Blade to feed from her in order to save himself. In the lower level of the temple, the ritual commences as the blood drips on the elders before merging on the ceiling into one drop that falls onto Frost’s head. A bolt of lightning then strikes the temple and electrocutes the elders before causing their skeletons to emerge from their bodies and fly around before entering Frost’s body, empowering him and completing the ritual. Upstairs, Blade feeds on Karen before letting her go, then kills his mother when she tries to stop him, before heading down to deal with Blade. Quinn goes to attack Blade but he quickly decapitates him, then proceeds to fight with the other vampires and kills them while Karen ends up killing Mercury. Frost then pulls out a sword of his own and challenges Blade and the two start fighting, with Blade seemingly winning when he cuts off Frost’s hand and slices him in half. However, Frost’s newfound powers allow him to heal those injuries and he easily is able to overpower him. Seeing the EDTA on a ledge above him, Blade throws his sword in a crack in the ledge, allowing the trick handle in the sword to split the shelf and drop the syringes into his hand. Blade then proceeds to throw all of the syringes into Frost, causing a severe reaction that makes him explode, killing him for good. Blade and Karen leave the temple and Karen says she needs to get back to the lab to cure herself and Blade says that there is still a war going on and if she wants to help, make him a stronger serum. Some time later, in Moscow, a vampire goes to attack a young woman when Blade appears and rescues her.
Blade met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 54% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though some may find the plot a bit lacking, Blade‘s action is fierce, plentiful, and appropriately stylish for a comic book adaptation.” Much like Harley Quinn in the Batman universe, Whistler’s character was originally created for Blade’s limited appearances in the Spider-Man (1994) animated series, but Marvel liked the character so much they decided to write him into the Marvel Universe. Despite the mixed reviews, the movie was a box office hit, earning $131.2 million off of a $45 million budget, and would spawn two sequels as well as a TV series based on the character.
You know what, this is still a fun and entertaining movie to watch. The acting was good for the most part, with Wesley Snipes doing a great job as Blade. Kris Kristofferson (Whistler) and N’Bushe Wright (Karen) were also good in their roles and while Stephen Dorff was ok as Frost, I liked Donal Logue and Arly Jover, Quinn and Mercury respectively, a lot better. The story was good, but there were several parts that had comic me just yelling internally at the screen. In the comics, Blade was affected by his mother’s death but that only made him immune to a vampire’s bite and gave him an affinity for the supernatural, it did not make him a half-breed. Later on, he wound up getting the vampire powers but that happened after the movie came out. I also didn’t like how they portrayed Frost, as in the comics he was an older man who had become a vampire while trying to find the secret to immortality, which gave him some unique abilities on top of the normal vampire powers. I personally would have loved to have seen his doppleganger making powers make an appearance in the movie. The special effects were pretty good, though I will admit they do seem a bit dated at this point in time. A good Marvel movie and definitely a sign of what things would soon follow for Marvel Studios.
Rating: 4 out of 5