Blade (film)

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Not to be confused with The Blade (film).
Blade
Blade movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stephen Norrington
Produced by
Written by David S. Goyer
Based on Blade 
by Marv Wolfman
Gene Colan
Starring
Music by Mark Isham
Cinematography Theo van de Sande
Edited by Paul Rubell
Production
company
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • August 21, 1998 (1998-08-21)
Running time
120 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $40 million[2]
Box office $131.2 million[3]

Blade is a 1998 American vampire superhero film starring Wesley Snipes and Stephen Dorff, loosely based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name.[4] Snipes plays Blade, a human with vampire traits who protects humans from vampires. The film was directed by Stephen Norrington and written by David S. Goyer.

Released on August 21, 1998, Blade became a commercial success by grossing $70 million at the U.S. box office, and $131.2 million worldwide. Despite mixed reviews from film critics, the film received a positive reception from audiences and has since garnered a cult following. It was followed by two sequels, Blade II and Blade: Trinity, both written by Goyer who also directed the latter.

Plot[edit]

In 1967, a pregnant woman is attacked by an unknown creature. She is taken to a hospital where she dies, but her child lives.

Three decades later, a woman leads a young man to a rave club filled with vampires who prepare to feast on the man. Vampire-hunter Eric "Blade" Brooks enters the club and begins killing the vampires. He sets the last vampire, Quinn, on fire and leaves before the police arrive. In the hospital, Quinn awakens, kills an examiner and bites hematologist Karen Jenson. When Blade intervenes, Quinn escapes. Blade brings Karen back to his safe house, where Abraham Whistler, his mentor and weaponsmith, injects her with garlic extract to suppress her transformation. Whistler informs Karen of the vampires' existence and weaknesses against silver, garlic and ultraviolet rays, as well as the silent war they have been fighting. He and Blade advise her to leave town, as the vampires will hunt her down.

Meanwhile, at the House of Erebus, the vampire elders criticize Deacon Frost, a younger vampire, for drawing attention to their kind. The elders insist on subtly ruling humans to avoid an all-out war. Frost, however, believes that vampires should openly enslave humanity. Because he was turned into a vampire instead of being born as one, Frost's opinions are dismissed. Together with his minions, Frost kidnaps and kills the chief vampire of the region and imprisons the other elders.

Blade drops Karen off at her apartment. There, a police officer named Krieger attacks her but Blade subdues him. Krieger is a "familiar" - a human who serves vampires in hope of being turned into one. Using Krieger, Blade and Karen locate an archive. They interrogate the record keeper and learn of a prophecy concerning La Magra, the Blood God. They run into several vampires who overwhelm Blade, but Whistler bursts in, having followed them the entire time. The trio retreat to a subway tunnel and escapes on a train. Blade injects himself with a serum, and Whistler explains his condition to Karen that Blade's mother, Vanessa, had been bitten while pregnant. Blade was born a half-vampire hybrid and possesses all of the vampires' strengths but none of their weaknesses. However, Blade suffers from a constant thirst for blood, which he suppresses by taking the serum, however, it is becoming less and less effective.

Back at the safehouse, Karen resolves to find a cure for vampirism. In the process, she discovers that anticoagulant EDTA reacts explosively with vampire blood. When Blade leaves to acquire his serum, Frost unexpectedly confronts him on the street. He tempts Blade to join him, and retreats when Blade refuses. Blade then fires shot at him when he threw a little girl as she landed in front of a bus, but Blade was there in time to save her. Karen figures out a cure for "turned" vampires, including herself. However, the cure does not work on Blade. When Blade returns, he finds the safehouse invaded, Karen kidnapped and Whistler infected. Blade gives Whistler a gun to commit suicide, arms himself with weapons - including the newly made EDTA syringes - and leaves.

At Frost's penthouse, Blade is shocked to meet Vanessa, who is now Frost's lover. She reveals Frost caused Blade's conditions. Frost's guards capture Blade, then take him and Karen to the Temple of Eternal Night. At the temple, Frost has Blade's blood drained. Karen is thrown into a pit, where she is attacked by a bitten colleague, who failed to become a vampire but is stuck in a zombie-like state. Karen escapes the pit and feeds Blade her blood, restoring his strength. Frost sacrifices the elder vampires in a ritual, absorbing their souls along with Blade's blood, and becomes imbued with their powers. Blade cuts through Frost's minions, including his mother and Quinn, while Karen sprays Mercury with garlic. Blade confronts Frost, whose new powers make him immune to Blade's weapons. Blade injects Frost with multiple EDTA syringes, killing him.

As the two leave the temple, Karen offers to find a cure for Blade. He turns her down, and asks her to improve the serum instead. In the epilogue, Blade stops a vampire attack in Russia.

Cast[edit]

  • Wesley Snipes as Eric Brooks / Blade: a half-vampire "daywalker" who hunts vampires and has superhuman reflexes and powers as a result that his mother was bitten by a vampire.
  • N'Bushe Wright as Dr. Karen Jenson: a hematologist who is bitten by the vampire Quinn. She fights vampires alongside Blade while she finds a cure for herself.
  • Stephen Dorff as Deacon Frost: an upstart vampire leader who emerges as Blade's primary enemy and who wants to conquer the human race by becoming the supreme blood god "La Magra".
  • Kris Kristofferson as Abraham Whistler: Blade's mentor, weaponsmith, and surrogate father figure.
  • Donal Logue as Quinn, a cocky lead minion of Frost's.
  • Udo Kier as Gitano Dragonetti, the head of the House of Erebus.
  • 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.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

Marvel Studios had developed the film as early as 1992, when rapper/actor LL Cool J was interested in playing the lead role.[5] Blade was eventually set up at New Line Cinema, with David S. Goyer writing the script. According to Goyer, New Line originally wanted to do Blade as "something that was almost a spoof" before the writer convinced them otherwise.[2] By 1996 Wesley Snipes was attached to star.[6]

Casting[edit]

When Goyer first pitched the idea of doing a Blade film, the executives of New Line felt there were only three actors who could possibly do the role: Snipes, Denzel Washington, and Laurence Fishburne, but to Goyer, Snipes was always the perfect choice for Blade. Marc Singer was the original choice for Whistler. Jet Li was offered the role of Deacon Frost but opted to do Lethal Weapon 4 instead. Bruce Payne was also considered for the role of Frost.

Filming[edit]

Blade was produced on a budget of $45 million[2] and principal photography commenced on February 5, 1997,[7] in large part done in Los Angeles, with some scenes being shot in Death Valley. All sets were constructed, and all on-set filming occurred, in what was formerly the Redken Shampoo factory in Canoga Park.[8] The effects for the film were done by Flat Earth Productions.[9]

Soundtrack[edit]

Main article: Blade (soundtrack)

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.

Post-production[edit]

The first cut of the film was 140 minutes long and it had a disastrous test screening with audiences. Heavy edits and re-shoots were implemented which delayed the release date more than half a year. The most significant change was the addition of the final sword fight between Blade and Deacon Frost, which did not exist in the original cut. In the original ending, Frost turned into La Magra and became a large swirling mass of blood instead of keeping his form. This was scrapped because they couldn't get the special effects to look right. It can be seen as a special feature on the DVD. Stan Lee originally had a cameo that was ultimately cut from the film. He played one of the cops that came in to the blood club during the aftermath and discover Quinn's body on fire. The scene where Karen and Deacon are talking about the cure for vampirism initially ran a bit longer and answered the question of how the vampires would feed if everybody was turned into a vampire. They would keep some humans alive in giant blood bags to harvest them. The bags can still be seen in a doorway during the scene, and later played an integral part of the plot in Blade: Trinity [10]

Connections to the comic[edit]

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. (As seen in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #8, first published in August 1999) The film portrayal 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.

Release[edit]

Blade was Marvel's first box office success, and set the stage for further comic film adaptations. Blade followed the disastrous 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.

Box office[edit]

The film went to number one in both Spain and Australia for their opening weekends. With 200 theatres showing the film, Spain's filmgoers earned the film $1.5 million (US) in three days, whilst Australia earned $1 million from 132 cinemas showing the film.[11] 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.[12] 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,[13] as was Brazil, making $855,000 in four days from 133 cinemas.[14] The film was banned from showing in Malaysia, widely considered to have the most controlling censors in Southeast Asia.[15]

Critical reception[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 54% rating.[16] 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."[17] 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."[18]

Critics such as A. Asbjørn Jøn have noted not only the important place of Blade (film) in the wider vampire genre but also possible intertextual links between the Whistler character and a character named Whistler in A Dozen Black Roses (1996) by Nancy A. Collins, as they possess "striking similarities in role, dramatic focus, visual appearance, and sharing the name".[19]

Lawsuit[edit]

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, received a "based on characters created by" credit in this film, but did not receive credit in Blade II or the TV series.[20]

Video game[edit]

A video game based on the movie was published and released by Activision in 2000.[21]

Future[edit]

In August 2014, Snipes spoke about his desire to return to the franchise, telling MTV.com, "I'd be open to it. I think we've got some stones left unturned and there's some latitude left for us to build on and I'd love to get back in the suit again and do some things I've learned how to do now that I didn't know how to do then." [22]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "BLADE (18)". British Board of Film Classification. September 18, 1998. Retrieved April 29, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Allstetter, Rob (August 1997). "Special Report: Blood on the Big Screen". Wizard (72). pp. 122–3. 
  3. ^ Blade at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ Turan, Kenneth (6 November 1992). "Blade to Snipes' Heat". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  5. ^ Staff (1992-12-08). "Marvel characters holding attraction for filmmakers". Variety. Retrieved 2014-10-12. 
  6. ^ Gary Levin (1996-12-29). "Perelman takes Marvel to bankruptcy court". Variety. Retrieved 2014-10-12. 
  7. ^ Michael Fleming (1997-01-27). "Hughes Bros. Turn out ‘Pimp’". Variety. Retrieved 2014-10-12. 
  8. ^ Bashirah Muttalib (8 October 1998). "As more pics shoot in Calif., coffers swell". Variety. Retrieved 13 December 2008. 
  9. ^ Marc Graser (1 October 2001). "Flat Earth founder forms new company". Variety. Retrieved 13 December 2008. 
  10. ^ http://www.aintitcool.com/node/928
  11. ^ Don Groves (13 October 1998). "Germans embrace 'Ryan' at the B.O.". Variety. Retrieved 13 December 2008. 
  12. ^ Don Groves (3 November 1998). "'Antz' swarming o'seas". Variety. Retrieved 13 December 2008. 
  13. ^ Don Groves (9 November 1998). "'Antz,' 'Exorcist' impressive o'seas". Variety. Retrieved 13 December 2008. 
  14. ^ Don Groves (24 November 1998). "'Mary,' 'Whisperer' top $100 mil mark o'seas". Variety. Retrieved 13 December 2008. 
  15. ^ Don Groves (5 November 1998). "'Ryan' under attack". Variety. Retrieved 13 December 2008. 
  16. ^ "Blade Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  17. ^ "Blade :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. 21 August 1998. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  18. ^ "Blade - Reelviews Movie Reviews - James Berardinelli". Reelviews.net. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  19. ^ Jøn, A. Asbjørn (2003). "Vampire Evolution". mETAphor: 23. Retrieved 25 November 2015. 
  20. ^ Wolfman loses Blade lawsuit against Marvel, The Comics Journal
  21. ^ "Gamespot.com: Blade for PlayStation". Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  22. ^ "Wesley Snipes back for fourth 'Blade'". Toronto Sun. 

External links[edit]