Posted by: detourmag on June 14, 2007 at 8:38 am

The first Blade film did it right. In a pre-Sin City era it emulated the style of the comic books it was based on, with washed-out panels and sudden splashes of scarlet. On screen this translated as moody impressionism. Blade existed in a dreary urban landscape, and his fellow human inhabitants were portrayed as having less life in their eyes than the vamps he hunted. Always the penitent, largely silent killer, when Blade did speak he was brusque and graceless, and when he wasn’t laying waste to his enemies, he was meditating.

The film benefited from the clear focus. The audience didn’t have to try and care about Blade’s love life, or the sick kid in the hospital he was going to help live again. We only needed to see him kill.

And besides, the camp and comic relief came in bunches over at the vampire camp. Stephen Dorff was Deacon Frost, a young turk with big ideas for his brood. He seethed, he schemed, he sneered. He wore dress shirts with gargantuan collars. And since no criminal operation is complete without its loudmouth consigliere, Blade also benefited from Donal Logue as Quinn. As Frost’s cackling confidant and right-hand man, Logue established the strain of sadistic humor that would resurface so successfully in Blade: Trinity. (Parker Posey really sunk her teeth into the role of a big budget villain, but she and her underworld crew were the only redeeming thing about the series’ third installment.)

In the end, Blade faced off with Frost at some sort of blood ritual; Frost wanted daywalking ability for his crew, or something like that. The plot was worthless, but the swordplay and cheeze-filled dialogue was priceless. Blade didn’t take itself seriously, even though its pervading gloom and numerous arty shots of grumbling muscle cars made it seem like it did. The Blade franchise didn’t end with Trinity, either — Kirk “Sticky” Jones, aka Sticky Fingaz of Onyx fame, starred in Spike’s television adaptation of the films. But Wesley Snipes will always be the only Blade, and from where we stand, the first film is the only one that really matters. – Johnny Loftus


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