So, there is probably no way to say this without sounding somewhat sexist but there are some people that look good in leather, and Kate Beckinsale is definitely one of them. I think Len Wiseman took full advantage of that fact when promoting his movie as most of the trailers had scenes with her in her leather outfit, which got a lot of the male audience, and probably some of the female audience, interested. When this movie came out in theaters, I wound up missing out on seeing it but would rent it shortly after it came out on video. After all, a good vampire or werewolf movie is always worth watching and even a bad one can be entertaining. So let’s see what we have on out hands with today’s movie, Underworld (2003).
The plot: 600 years ago, the war between vampires and Lycans (werewolves) reached it’s climax when the Lycans’ leader, Lucian, was killed. The Lycans scattered and the vampires worked to slaughter the last of them. In the present day, Selene, a vampire soldier known as a Death Dealer, observes two Lycans following a human named Michael Corvin down into the subway. Selene and her partner follow after them but one of the Lycans, Raze, senses the vampires and begins shooting at them. Selene’s partner is struck by the bullets and as Selene takes cover, she sees her partner start to smolder and burn to death as if he was caught in the sun. Another vampire arrives to help Selene and as the vampires and Lycans trade bullets, the innocent bystanders all work to take cover or flee. When a bystander is hit by a bullet, Michael rushes over to drag her to safety and starts tending to her wound. Raze’s partner grabs Michael but is forced to let him go when he is shot by Selene. The Lycan flees and Selene chases after him down the subway tunnel and into the sewers, where she eventually kills him. Meanwhile, Raze fights with the other vampire, eventually killing him when he transforms into his werewolf form, and goes after Selene but she is able to hold him at bay when she throws 4 silver shuriken disks into him. Grabbing the dead Lycan’s gun, which Selene noticed contained some strange, glowing bullets, Selene makes her way through the sewers to leave when she hears the sounds of a large, Lycan den somewhere further in the sewers but quickly leaves when she hears more Lycans approaching. Inside the den, two Lycans are fighting each other when Lucian appears and stops them. Selene returns to her coven and shows the head of the Death Dealers the Lycans’ weapon and he figures it is artificial ultra-violet radiation intended as some sort of military tracer round. Kraven, the vampire regent, shows up and Selene says they should send the Death Dealers in force down into the sewers to deal with the den and she wants to lead the team but Kraven refuses, saying that it is too close to the Awakening to risk it. Selene goes to look through the pictures and realizes that the Lycans were following Michael and she tries to tell Kraven but he tells her to let it go and get ready for the party that evening. Back in the Lycans’ den, a scientist named Singe is checking blood samples from the descendants of the Corvinus bloodline and when the most recent one failed, he tells Lucian that Michael is the last chance of finding a pure strain of the bloodline. Meanwhile, Selene leaves the coven and heads to Michael’s apartment and when he gets there, she questions him about why the Lycans are after him. Before Michael can answer, they are attacked by Lycans and as Selene deals with them, Michael runs for the elevator to get away. When Michael gets to the ground floor, he is confronted by Lucian and Selene, who had followed after Michael, shoots Lucian but Lucian falls onto Michael and bites him. Selene grabs Michael and drags him out of the elevator while Lucian spits Michael’s blood into a vial, then dislodges the silver bullets from his skin and gives chase. Lucian manages to leap onto Selene’s car and starts stabbing through the roof, eventually wounding Selene but she is able to dislodge him from the car, then strike him with it as she continues to escape. Michael wants to be let out and Selene refuses but ends up passing out and the car crashes into the river. Michael saves Selene and carries her to shelter before passing out himself, plagued by visions of Lycans being tortured by vampires. Meanwhile, Lucian returns to the den and gives Singe the vial with Michael’s blood and as Singe begins to test it, Lucian tells him that he bit Michael so soon he would be looking for them. When Selene comes too, she takes Michael back to the coven and when he learns of this, Kraven chastises her for her actions. Meanwhile, another vampire, Erika, is examining Michael when she discovers the bite just as Michael wakes up and escapes the coven. Kraven leaves the coven and meets up with Lucian, revealing that they were working together, and Lucian tells Kraven that Michael is no concern of his. Meanwhile, Selene is suspicious of Kraven’s story of killing Lucian, believing that Lucian is the Lycan that attacked her and Michael. Disobeying protocol, Selene wakes Viktor, one of the three vampire lords, using her blood to start the process so that he would have her memories. Meanwhile, Michael goes to the hospital he works at and has a friend look at his wounds but when his friend goes to get the police, who are actually Lycans in disguise, Michael quickly leaves and heads back to the coven. At the coven, Kraven is angered to find Michael outside the gates and yells at Selene, who tells him she woke up Viktor and then leaves to go see Michael. Driving up to the gate, Selene tells Michael to get in and they drive to a vampire safehouse, with Selene explaining to Michael about the war between vampires and Lycans. Back at the coven, Kraven and Erika go to see Viktor, who is still rejuvenating after being in hibernation and when Viktor learns that he was woken 100 years ahead of schedule, he tells Kraven to send Selene to him when she comes back. At the safehouse, Selene and Michael are getting closer and Michael wants to go with her when she says she has to return to the coven but Selene says they will kill him if he shows up. The two get closer and briefly kiss but Selene had used the kiss to put a shackle on Michael, telling him that he will change the next night and she couldn’t risk him getting loose and killing someone. Meanwhile, in the Lycans’ den, the Lycans are all gathering weapons and preparing to head out for an attack on the vampires, with Lucian leading the way. Back at the coven, Erika works on taking Kraven’s mind off his troubles when Selene returns, and Kraven goes looking for her. Kraven yells at her, saying she was ruining the plans he had for the two of them, and Selene says that there was never a “them” and shoves past him to go see Viktor. When she reaches Viktor, she tries to explain about Lucian and what she knows but Viktor says believes Kraven over her and says that Michael must die while she will be punished for breaking the order. Kraven has Selene placed under house arrest and then sends his assistant to go meet Amelia, One of the other vampire lords, and escort her to the coven. At the train station, Amelia’s train arrives but is attacked by Lycans, who kill all of Amelia’s attendants while leaving Amelia alive for Raze to drain her blood, while Kraven’s assistant watches from the platform before leaving. Back at the coven, Erika helps Selene escape, as she figures with Selene out of the way Kraven will turn his attentions to herself, and Selene heads back to the safehouse. When she gets there, she finds Lycans approaching the building and she tries to fight them off, freeing Michael and telling him to get to safety in the process, but Michael ends up being captured by the Lycan police officers, who sedate him when he starts to turn as they head back to the den. Back at the coven, Selene brings Singe, whom she had captured at the safehouse, and he tells Viktor Lucian’s plans and why they need the blood of a pure blood vampire. When Kahn tells Viktor that Amelia’s train had been attacked and Amelia drained of all her blood, Viktor kills Singe in anger, then apologizes to Selene for doubting her before ordering her to kill Michael when they find him. In the Lycans’ den, Lucian is preparing Michael for testing his blood and Michael has more visions, realizing that they are Lucian’s memories. When he asks Lucian about it, Lucian tells him that Lycans were once the slaves of the vampires and served as their protectors during the daytime. Lucian ended up falling in love with Viktor’s daughter Sonja and the two were secretly wed but when Viktor found out, he feared a blending of the species and had Sonja killed, along with their unborn child, and Lucian ended up fleeing, starting the war in the process. Kraven and his men arrive, as Kraven knows that Viktor is now aware of his treachery, and as Lucian speaks with Kraven, the other Lycans place Kraven’s men in a locked room. Suddenly, Selene and the other Death Dealers arrive in the den and begin attacking the Lycans and Kraven uses the opportunity to shoot Lucian with a bullet filled with silver nitrate. Kraven’s men manage to escape their room and go looking for another way out but Raze sees them and chases after them, battling with Kraven’s assistant. Selene manages to locate Michael and frees him, telling him she has to get him out of there and when Michael tells her that they will kill her too, she says she knows and the two kiss. Michael tells Selene that he knows what started the war and the two try to escape but the encounter Kraven, who shoots Michael. As Selene drops to Michael’s side, Kraven tries to get her to go with him and when she refuses, Kraven tells her that Viktor was the one who slaughtered her family, not the Lycans, all so he could have Selene replace the daughter he had killed. When Kraven goes to kill Selene, Lucian, who had survived, stops him and stabs Kraven in the leg. As Kraven reels in pain, Lucian tells Selene to bite Michael, saying that he would become a hybrid that has both species strengths but none of their weaknesses. Selene bites Michael as Kraven kills Lucian, then flees when Viktor shows up and throws Selene from Michael. Viktor grabs Michael and throws him through a wall, then speaks with Selene, who asks how he could do what he did. Viktor says he did it to preserve the species, then goes to finish off Michael only to find that Michael had transformed into a hybrid and begins attacking Viktor. As the two fight, some Death Dealers show up and begin shooting at Michael and Selene kills them but is then struck by Viktor, who starts to choke out Michael. Selene grabs Viktor’s sword and decapitates him, saving Michael’s life and as the stand together, the surviving Lycans all head back into the shadows, letting them leave. Meanwhile, back at the coven, Singe’s blood seeps down into the crypt where Marcus’ body is and wakens him, turning him into a hybrid as well as he is also of the Corvinus bloodline.
Underworld (2003) met with mostly negative reviews from the critics, holding a 31% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though stylish to look at, Underworld is tedious and derivative.” Underworld (2003) was the subject of a copyright infringement lawsuit when it came out, as both White Wolf, Inc. (creators of the Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse games) and Nancy A. Collins (author of the Sonja Blue novels) claimed that the plot and elements of the movie were similar to their own properties. The lawsuit ended up being settled with a confidential settlement. Despite the poor reviews, the movie was a box office success, earning $95.7 million off of a $22 million budget and would spawn 3 sequels and a prequel.
I will admit that this is not the best movie ever but it is a pretty entertaining movie. The acting was hit or miss in some cases, with Kate Beckinsale (Selene) and Scott Speedman (Michael) doing good jobs in their roles. I also liked Michael Sheen (Lucian) and Kevin Grevioux (Raze) but thought Shane Brolly was too whiny as Kraven. The story was interesting and I liked the idea of the vampire/werewolf war (seriously, who hasn’t always enjoyed a throwdown between these two classic monsters) while the hybrid angle was a nice twist to make it a little more interesting. The special effects were pretty good and I liked the design of the Lycans, making them look sleeker and not as furry as the traditional werewolf. The lighting for the movie was really dark, which fit the tone of the movie and the whole “underworld” theme but could be a little trying at times. An entertaining movie to watch and definitely set itself up for more movies to follow.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5