Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stephen Norrington|
|Produced by||Peter Frankfurt
Andrew J. Horne
|Written by||David S. Goyer|
|Based on||Blade by
|Music by||Mark Isham|
|Cinematography||Theo van de Sande|
|Editing by||Paul Rubell|
|Studio||New Line Cinema
Amen Ra Films
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Release dates||August 21, 1998|
|Running time||119 minutes|
Blade is a 1998 American vampire-superhero action film starring Wesley Snipes and Stephen Dorff, loosely based on the Marvel Comics character Blade. Snipes plays Blade, a human-vampire hybrid who protects humans from vampires.
The film was directed by Stephen Norrington and written by David S. Goyer. Blade grossed $70 million at the U.S. box office, and $131.2 million worldwide. It was followed by two sequels, Blade II and Blade: Trinity, both written by Goyer.
The film opens in prologue: a pregnant woman being rushed into a hospital in labor and bleeding, reaching out for something or someone unseen. The film then flashes forward, a wild night with a seductive woman leads a young man to a rave club. He casually bumps into the club owner, who would later be revealed as Deacon Frost, a young upstart in the vampire community. The music peaks when blood is sprayed from the sprinklers above (a blood rain) and the young man flees as the vampires reveal themselves and begin to feed on the human members in the club. In the middle of the carnage, the armor clad vampire-hunter arrives. The crowd breaks into a frenzy as Blade or the "Daywalker" (as the vampires label him) displays extraordinary skills and strength against a slew of armed guards, eventually saving the young man's life. Blade slaughters a number of vampires in the club, leaving Quinn alive and horribly burned as the police arrive on the scene.
Blade tracks Quinn down to a hospital, but the vampire is able to bite a resident hematologist, Dr. Karen Jenson, before escaping once again. Blade brings Karen back to his lair and introduces her to Abraham Whistler, his mentor and weaponsmith. Karen resolves to study vampirism and find an antidote before she becomes a vampire herself. In working to find a stable, viable cure she soon discovers that the anticoagulant EDTA reacts explosively with the vampire infection. Meanwhile, Frost clashes with his vampire elders. He believes that vampires should rise from the shadows and enslave humanity. The elders believe in the subversive rule of (both human and vampire) society through their influence with police, politics, finance and real estate. Moreover, because he was not born a vampire as they were, they both shame him and shun him for his radical views and reckless activities. Frost studies ancient vampire lore and comes to believe that he can awaken La Magra, a bloodgod, to gain godlike absolute power. Together with his minions, he kidnaps and kills the chief vampire of the region and imprisons the other elders.
Blade combats Frost's various minions in an effort to uncover his ultimate plan. After another encounter with Quinn and Frost's lover Mercury, Whistler would explain to a suspicious Karen that Blade's mother Vanessa was attacked while pregnant and that Blade is a half-vampire hybrid with all their superhuman strengths but none of their weaknesses except the bloodthirst. After witnessing Whistler give Blade a serum to counter the thirst, Karen successfully develops an antidote to cure herself of vampirism. While Blade is out on an errand, Frost and his crew manage to invade Blade's lair, kidnap Karen and mortally wound Whistler. Blade gives the infected Whistler a gun to commit suicide, then arms himself with a number of weapons and a large supply of EDTA. He storms Frost's penthouse, overrunning the bodyguards, and soon discovers Vanessa - his own mother, whom he believed long dead, in Frost's bed. She reveals that Frost was the vampire that bit her while Blade was still in her womb and caused him to become the Daywalker. More guards arrive and attack Blade as Frost intimates a long since sexual relationship with Vanessa and proclaims himself as creator of their "family". Thunderstruck, Blade is defeated and taken (with Karen) to the Temple of Eternal Night for Frost's blood ritual sacrifice.
The temple antechamber drains Blade's blood and filters it through the ancient channels of the temple. Karen manages to escape the pit Frost dropped her in and feed Blade her blood, doubling his strength and giving him an animalistic power to fight the vampires. Meanwhile lightning strikes the temple and explodes into the sanctuary as Frost sacrifices the elder vampires in a mystic ritual and painfully gains the power of La Magra. However the unintended result was not the awakening of the bloodgod but the culmination of the dead elders souls that fought absorption as the energies consume Frost's body. Vanessa attacks Blade forcing him to kill her. In the melee, Karen secures a shotgun from a guard, shoots him dead and kills Mercury with concentrated garlic spray. Blade then furiously cuts through Quinn and the rest of Frost's minions before engaging Frost in rapidfire swordplay. Frost's new powers make him immune to Blade's conventional weapons, so Blade injects him, multiple times with EDTA, causing Frost to explode. As the pair leave the temple, Karen offers to cure Blade but he chooses to forgo the cure in order to continue hunting vampires and asks her to develop a better serum. An epilogue finds Blade killing a vampire attacking his date in Russia, intimating that Blade's new campaign has spread into Europe.
- Wesley Snipes as Blade: A half-vampire "daywalker" who hunts vampires.
- Kris Kristofferson as Abraham Whistler: Blade's mentor and weaponsmith.
- Stephen Dorff as Deacon Frost: An upstart vampire leader who emerges as Blade's primary enemy and who wants to conquer the human race.
- N'Bushe Wright as Dr. Karen Jenson: A hematologist who is bitten by the vampire Quinn. She stays with Blade to remain safe while she finds a cure for herself.
- Donal Logue as Quinn: A cocky lead minion of Frost's.
- Udo Kier as Gitano Dragonetti: Head of the vampire elders.
- Sanaa Lathan as Vanessa Brooks: Blade's mother, believed dead, who became a vampire and lover to Frost.
- Arly Jover as Mercury: Frost's second lover and second in command.
- Kevin Patrick Walls as Officer Krieger: A "familiar", or human servant, of Frost's.
- Tim Guinee as Dr. Curtis Webb: Karen's ex-boyfriend who later becomes a decomposing zombie.
- Traci Lords as Racquel: A seductive vampire who leads a man to the blood rave.
- Eric Edwards as Pearl: the obese records keeper.
When David S. Goyer first pitched the idea of doing a Blade movie, the executives of New Line felt there were only three actors who could possible do the role: Wesley Snipes, Denzel Washington and Laurence Fishburne, but in Goyer's mind, Snipes was always the perfect choice for the character of Blade. Marc Singer was the original choice for Whistler. Jet Li was offered the role of Deacon Frost instead but opted to do Lethal Weapon 4 instead. Bruce Payne was also considered for the role of Frost.
The film was produced on a budget of $45 million. Filming was in large part done in Los Angeles, with some scenes being shot in Death Valley. The effects for the film were done by Flat Earth Productions.
Connections to the comic
The character Blade was created in 1973 for Marvel Comics by writer Marv Wolfman and artist Gene Colan as a supporting character in the 1970s comic The Tomb of Dracula. The comic Blade used teakwood knives and was much more the everyman in his behavior and attitude. Though courageous and brave, he displayed flaws as well, such as an inability to get along with certain other supporting cast members and a hatred of vampires that bordered on fanaticism.
The character was not originally a "daywalker" but a human being immune to being turned into a vampire. Lacking the superhuman speed and strength of his undead quarry, he relied solely on his wits and skill until he was bitten by the character Morbius. The film version of Blade was updated for a 1990s audience and the comics character was subsequently modified to match. The film's version of Deacon Frost also differs greatly from his comic counterpart. Although the movie retains Frost's upstart ambitions, he was a great deal younger and more updated for the 1990s.
A Blade Anime series was also done by Madhouse Company in 2011. The series consists of 12 episodes.
Blade was Marvel's first film success, and set the stage for further comic film adaptations. Blade followed Howard the Duck as the second Marvel property to get a wide theatrical release in the United States. The Punisher and Captain America both had films made previously, but neither saw a theatrical release in the United States.
Reaction to Blade among critics was mixed, with the film earning a 55% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert gave the film 3 stars out of 4, writing: "Blade ... is a movie that relishes high visual style. It uses the extreme camera angles, the bizarre costumes and sets, the exaggerated shadows, the confident cutting between long shots and extreme closeups. It slams ahead in pure visceral imagery." Conversely, James Berardinelli gave the film 2½ stars out of 4, writing: "Blade has the capacity to dazzle, but it also will leave many viewers dissatisfied."
Blade went to number one in both Spain and Australia for their opening weekends. With 200 theatres showing the film, Spain's cinema goers earned the film $1.5 million (US) in three days, whilst Australia earned $1 million from 132 cinemas showing the film. In the Flemish Region of Belgium, the film earned $323,000 from 20 cinemas, and the Netherlands earned the film $246,000 from 44 cinemas. France made $1.9 million in five days from 241 cinemas, but the film was less successful in Hong Kong (with $182,000 from 22 cinemas) and South Africa ($159,000 from 64 cinemas). The United Kingdom was more successful, taking in $5.7 million over 10 days, as was Brazil, making $855,000 in four days from 133 cinemas. The film was banned from showing in Malaysia, widely considered to have the most controlling censors in Southeast Asia.
Marv Wolfman, the original creator of the Blade character, unsuccessfully sued Marvel and New Line for $50 million after the release of the film. He, along with artist Gene Colan, receives a "based on characters created by" credit in this film, but does not receive credit in Blade II or the TV series.
A soundtrack containing hip hop music was released on August 25, 1998 by TVT Records and Epic Records. It peaked at #36 on the Billboard 200 and #28 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. The British Techno band The Prodigy were approached to do the soundtrack and score to the film but had to turn down the offer due to other commitments.
- Turan, Kenneth (6 November 1992). "Blade to Snipes' Heat". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-21.
- Allstetter, Rob (August 1997). "Special Report: Blood on the Big Screen". Wizard (72). pp. 122–3.
- Bashirah Muttalib (8 October 1998). "As more pics shoot in Calif., coffers swell". Variety. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
- Marc Graser (1 October 2001). "Flat Earth founder forms new company". Variety. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
- "Blade Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-01-06.
- "Blade :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2011-01-06.
- "Blade - Reelviews Movie Reviews - James Berardinelli". Reelviews.net. Retrieved 2011-01-06.
- Don Groves (13 October 1998). "Germans embrace 'Ryan' at the B.O.". Variety. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
- Don Groves (3 November 1998). "'Antz' swarming o'seas". Variety. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
- Don Groves (9 November 1998). "'Antz,' 'Exorcist' impressive o'seas". Variety. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
- Don Groves (24 November 1998). "'Mary,' 'Whisperer' top $100 mil mark o'seas". Variety. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
- Don Groves (5 November 1998). "'Ryan' under attack". Variety. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
- Wolfman loses Blade lawsuit against Marvel, The Comics Journal
- "Gamespot.com: Blade for PlayStation". Retrieved 2009-07-21.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Blade|
- Blade at The Internet Movie Database
- Blade at Rotten Tomatoes
- Blade at Metacritic
- Blade at AllMovie
- Blade at Marvel.com
- Blade turns Ten. Interviews with the cast members from the movie