Review – Blood: The Last Vampire

On the surface, Saya is a beautiful 16-year-old, but underneath that youthful exterior hides a tormented soul. When her human father was brutally murdered by Onigen, the evil lord of all vampires, when she was just a child Saya was bound by an oath to avenge his death.

As described by the strap line above, Blood: The Last Vampire is a tale about Saya, half human half vampire. Hell bent on revenge, she hunts demonic creatures using her slain father’s sword, as she searches for the oldest of all demons, Onigen.

Helped by a mysterious organisation know as the Council, the 400 year old Saya transfers to a school near the Yokota Air Base, a United States Army camp in Tokyo. After saving fellow student, Alice, from a pair of sword wielding demon classmates (teenage school girls can be so evil), Saya and Alice form a bond, as they’re pursued by demons and Onigen.

Firstly, despite some top notch actors, notably Liam Cunningham (Dog Soldiers) and Colin Salmon (James Bond, Resident Evil), the acting is stiff and wooden. Allison Miller (Desperate Housewives) who plays the General’s daughter, Alice, spends a lot of the time bewildered or annoyingly screaming. JJ Field who plays one of Saya’s handlers has the strangest accent (is it supposed to be American?) throughout his scenes, though to be fair he’s easy on the eye in a Jude Law kind of way.

Then of course, the special effects aren’t very good either. The blood splatter visuals has Saya hacks away at her enemies are reminiscent of the effects used in the first Blade film – you know, the weird blobs of blood when Deacon Frost/La Magra has various bits of him chopped off by Blade. The CGI for the winged demons are also lacking in consistency and quality, which is a shame as the physical models/suits were much better. While watching Blood: The Last Vampire I was actually asked how old the film was, not a good sign considering it’s theatrical release was this year.

The plot does gets convoluted, which considering the source material, makes it more disappointing. With the Anime version being a shorter film, I guess the director Chris Nahon (Kiss of the Dragon) felt the need to extend the story. However, instead of showing us more of Onigen, whose appearances are short until the big reveal at the end, we’re either served long fight scenes or flashbacks to Saya’s childhood. Both which felt like padding, rather than essential to the plot. Indeed, once we get to the end showdown between Saya and Onigen, it’s over too quickly and in the most unspectacular way.

That said, Gianna Jun (Saya) and her guardian/mentor Kato portrayed by Yasuaki Kurata are actually very good in their roles. Gianna’s portrayal of vengeful half human half vampire Saya, who is still trying to hang onto her humanity, is more than adequate. 63 year old Yasuaki Kurata deserves a special mention, as despite his age, he’s fitter than a lot of men half his age (me included). His woodland fight scene against a host of ninja demons, with Cory Yuen’s martial arts choreography (Transporter) make for great viewing. I was also taken by the two Cleaners (brothers Santiago and Hector Alonso) who mop up after Saya. They reminded of the Thompson Twins from Tin Tin. They should’ve been used more.

Blood: The Last Vampire is saved from total mediocrity due to the beautiful cinematography provided by Hang-Sang Poon (Fearless, Kung Fu Hustle). Although the end battle between Saya and Onigen is shorter than I would have liked, Onigen’s beauty and flowing white dress is very ethereal. Kato’s fight scene is simply stunning, with ninjas darting through the air or exploding out of the ground. In fact the whole film has enough genuinely stylish content to make it engaging.

Blood: The Last Vampire is actually a very competently made film here. Beautifully shot film with some great actions scenes Blood: The Last Vampire could’ve been a great Manga/Vampire flick, instead of  an average one.

Blood: The Last Vampire UK DVD and Blu-ray release is on 2nd November 2009.

Blood: The Last Vampire Blu-ray and DVD Details

Release date: 2 November 2009
Running time: 91 minutes
Format: Blu-ray & DVD
CERT: 18
Price: £24.99 (Blu-ray), £15.99 (DVD)
Special Features TBC

  • Gianna
  • Chris Nahon
  • Cory Yuen
  • The Metro
  • The Alley
  • Japanese Stars

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