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BLADE (1998)

Directed by Stephen Norrington

Starring Wesley Snipes and Stephen Dorff

Not since "Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires" has one vampire movie delivered so much chop-socky action in a single two hours.

Actually "Blade" is perhaps the quintessential action movie of the 1990s. It borrows from everywhere"Die Hard," "Aliens," "Near Dark," "The Hunger," "Super Cop"and despite packing so much into one movie is marvelous  entertainment that almost makes sense. Particularly memorable is a vampire rave featured at the opening of the film, where blood suckers dance and are then showered in blood by a sprinkler system.

Snipes is Blade, a superhero-like half vampire whose mother was bitten just before he was born. He has all the strength of a vampire, but none of the weaknessesalthough he needs to intake a special serum to prevent himself from wanting blood.In addition to being a martial arts expert, he also has an impressive collection of weapons, including exploding bullets packed with garlic and a powerful sun lamp.

There's nothing scary in the film, but there is plenty of goreand, best of all, Udo Kier! Kier, who played Dracula in the cult fave "Blood for Dracula," plays a vampire elder who finds his authority challenged by an upstart, chain-smoking bad guy (Dorff) who wants to be king of the vampires himself. The film was bloody enough to be banned in Malaysia. The make-up effects are bold and impressive, particularly in a scene where Kier is roasted alive in the sunlight. The film is gory enough to have been unrated, but it managed to get an "R."

Director Norrington, who previously did special effects work on "Alien 3" and made his directorial debut with the rather good "Death Machine," did an amazing job with "Blade." "Blade 2" is already planned for a 2000 release.

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