A gratuitous wise-cracking sidekick and a tummy-baring, tight-top-wearing eye-candy vampire hunter have been added to the cast of the sequel "Blade: Trinity," but it's the gal (Jessica Biel) who gets most of the laughs, albeit unintentionally, with her lethargic, ludicrously inept kung-fu fighting.
Playing the hitherto unknown hottie daughter of Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) -- that crusty veteran of the underground vampire wars who is mentor to the titular half-vamp Wesley Snipes in all three "Blade" pictures -- Biel can't swing a convincing punch or kick to save her life.
But giving Biel a run for her money as the movie's most absurd character is ironic indie-flick darling Parker Posey, disastrously cast against type as the leader of yet another tiresome uber-Goth vampire faction that pouts around in skyscraper hideouts when they're not busy reviving their millennia-old master.
In a set-up virtually identical to last year's equally action-packed, equally asinine, equally miscast "Underworld" (minus that movie's werewolves and silly romance), "Blade: Trinity" begins with the vamps digging up the long-dormant Dracula (Dominic Purcell), who is apparently a Slovakian runway model enamored of bare-chested couture. His revival is part of their "final solution" to turn all mankind into a vast comatose blood bank (a la humanity's imprisonment in "The Matrix"), but apparently he's also the only one with the fighting skills to take on the "daywalker" Blade -- a human-vampire hybrid who destroys bloodsuckers with monotonous ease and expensive spontaneous-combustion special effects.
But don't ask why Dracula (or Drake as he's called now that he has gym-toned pecs and a five o'clock shadow) runs away the first time they face off. In fact, don't even expect the movie to live by its own internal logic. At one point we're told a sample of Drake's blood is needed to create a serum that will destroy all the vampires, but while the serum is successfully synthesized, we never actually see the protagonists get their hands on the guy's DNA.
Writer-director David S. Goyer (who also penned the first two "Blade" installments) is too busy with stunts, explosions, weakly choreographed fight scenes, musical montages, repetitive bad-ass slow-mo hero shots and blatant product placements (Biel hunts to the sound of grinding club-rock on her iPod) to pay attention to anything as arcane as a plot.
Had Goyer indicated in any way that he was aware how preposterous his movie is, "Blade: Trinity" might have earned a pass as pure popcorn. But his only acknowledgement of camp value is saddling the sidekick (buffed-up Ryan Reynolds from "Van Wilder") with lines like, "I eat a lot of garlic, and I just farted."
A disciple of the Matthew Perry School of Awkward Pauses and Ironic Eyebrow Dances, the actor hams it up, desperately trying to wring some actual humor from his dead-on-arrival dialogue. But he succeeds only in unintentionally upstaging Snipes, who is hindered by his character's reticence and by the fact that he wears sunglasses throughout the movie. (Blade is not completely immune to the sun's effect on his vampire DNA.)
What's worse, Snipes' expertise in Capoeria, an African/Brazilian form of kung fu, is completely wasted. From what little we see of his sword-slinging combat -- mired in more half-hearted fight choreography, and even worse photography and editing -- he appears to be barely more skilled than Biel.
For those who don't mind their Goth-vampire-kung-fu action movies all looking the same (leather, eye-liner, stiletto heels, poor lighting), sounding the same (rap and rave tunes), and having the same sequel-baiting finales, "Blade: Trinity" may barely pass muster. But this picture certainly proves this subgenre is completely out of new ideas.
Run time: 113 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 8th December 2004
Box Office USA: $52.4M
Box Office Worldwide: $128.9M
Distributed by: New Line Cinema
Production compaines: Marvel Studios, New Line Cinema, Amen Ra Films, Imaginary Forces
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 26%
Fresh: 42 Rotten: 122
IMDB: 5.9 / 10
Director: David S. Goyer
Starring: Wesley Snipes as Blade, Kris Kristofferson as Whistler, Dominic Purcell as Drake, Jessica Biel as Abigail Whistler, Ryan Reynolds as Hannibal King, Parker Posey as Danica Talos, Paul Michael Lévesque as Jarko Grimwood, Mark Berry as Chief Martin Vreede, John Michael Higgins as Dr. Edgar Vance, Callum Keith Rennie as Asher Talos, Paul Anthony as Wolfe, Françoise Yip as Virago, Michael Anthony Rawlins as Wilson Hale, James Remar as Ray Cumberland, Natasha Lyonne as Sommerfield, Ginger Broatch as Zoe, Patton Oswalt as Hedges, Eric Bogosian as Bentley Tittle, Erica Cerra as Goth Vixen Wannabe
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