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When I was a kid, I thought that Blade was a cool comic book character. As an adult, I kind of tickled to discover that Blade is just as cool, if not cooler because the character has grown up too. The movie version of BLADE ($20) contains all the blood, gore and inappropriate language that would never have found its way onto the pages of a comic book, at least not when I was a kid.

For those of you who never had a chance to experience the character in comic book form, Blade is a (pre-Buffy) vampire slayer with a serious attitude problem. Blade kills vampires to take revenge on the creatures that killed his mother just before he was born and turned him into something not completely human. Blade’s blood was tainted while he was still in his mother's womb rendering him half human and half vampire. This unique condition gives Blade all the powers of a vampire, without any of their weaknesses. Wesley Snipes is the perfect embodiment of the badass vampire slayer, bringing the right combination of physicality, attitude and heroics to the role. 

The plot of BLADE follows the vampire hunter on his quest to eliminate Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff). Frost, a particularly ambitious vampire, hopes to use the power of an ancient blood god to bring vampire domination to the world. The cast of BLADE also features Kris Kristofferson as Blade's mentor Abraham Whistler, N'Bushe Wright as Karen- the doctor who may be able to cure Blade of his thirst, Donal Logue as Quinn- Deacon Frost's right hand man and Udo Kier as Dragonetti- the chieftain of the elite vampire society. Look for Traci Lords in a brief, but entertaining, cameo. Director Stephen Norrington brings a genuine sense of style to BLADE, making the film an intense visual experience. The movie is fast paced and filled with Hong Kong inspired martial arts sequences, high tech weaponry, sword play and state-of-the-art special effects.

New Line Home Video has released BLADE as part of their outstanding Platinum Series of DVDs. Dual layer technology has been utilized by New Line to offer the wide screen version of BLADE, plus a wealth of supplemental material. The Letterboxed transfer of BLADE recreates the film's 2.35:1 theatrical framing almost perfectly, without a sign of compromise to edges of the screen, additionally this presentation also contains the highly desirable 16:9 anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. The world cinematographer Theo Van de Sande's has created for BLADE is very dark and highly stylized; however the DVD reproduces his work with stunning clarity. The transfer keeps the image dark, however detail hasn't been sacrificed by maintaining the integrity of Van de Sande's work. Color reproduction is good, although sequences shot under florescent lighting tend to have a greenish cast. Saturation is respectable and the color red, which tends to be problematic for analogue video sources, reproduces without a bit distortion. Impressive DVD authoring conceals almost all indications of digital compression artifacts. 

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack boasts an exciting mix that aggressively uses each of the discrete channels, while keeping the dialogue clean and intelligible. If you are looking for another show off DVD to give your audio system a workout, this is the disc for you.  Additionally, the track has solid bass reproduction that kicks some serious booty. Both the film's score and source music pulse with a life of their own, plus they are reproduced with excellent fidelity.  A matrixed Dolby Surround soundtrack and English subtitles have also been encoded into the DVD. 

The interactive menus have a very cool interface that is replete with animation, music, sound and full motion video. Through the interactive menus one can access the DVD's extensive supplemental section. Chief amongst the supplements is an audio commentary featuring producer/star Wesley Snipes, actor Stephen Dorff, writer David S. Goyer, cinematographer Theo Van de Sande, production designer Kirk M. Petruccelli, and producer Peter Frankfurt. The commentary appears to have been edited together from separate sources, giving the viewer a balanced look at the production from various viewpoints. 

The film's score is offered on an isolated track, which also includes composer Mark Isham’s comments. Other supplements include various "featurettes" that contain on screen interviews, deleted scenes, an alternate ending to the film, a look at vampire lore, as well as look Blade's origins as a comic book character. Each of the "featurette" is interesting and well worth viewing. Also included are production designs, a closer look at various tribes of vampires depicted in the film, cast biographies/filmographies and a theatrical trailer. BLADE is also a "PC Friendly" DVD with features that can only be accessed via a DVD-ROM drive and if you are running the Windows 95 or higher operating system.

BLADE is tremendous fun for horror fans, action fans and those comic book fans that remember the good old days of Blade's origins. As part of New Line Home Video prestigious Platinum Series, BLADE is a state of the art DVD certain to please any collector. Absolutely recommended.


Blade - New Line Platinum Series (1998)


DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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