Blood on DVD

Monday, 03 May 2010 10:14

“Blood” is the Japanese answer to “Blade”, with the addition of a generous dose of erotica to spice things up. Director Ten Shimoyama fuses a modern-day, urban setting with contrasting gothic overtones. Vampires exist, but despite a typically voracious appetite for young flesh, they keep themselves as concealed from public view as possible.

Detective Hoshino (Kanji Tsuda) is demoted after exposing the dirty business of some influential criminals. Maneuvered out of the limelight, he finds himself dumped with the dead-end crimes nobody else wants. One old case due to expire soon catches his eye: the horrific murder of a maid in a stately mansion. The girl’s parents haven’t given up hope, and Hoshino resolves to uncover the truth. Of course, there is much more to this case than meets the eye.

Blood comes to UK DVDHoshino’s investigation initially leads him to the maid’s employer, a seductive and mysterious lady called Miyako. She refers him to a secretive businessman called Ukyo (Jun Kaname), coincidentally also her ex-lover. When he breaks into Ukyo’s office, the detective uncovers an incredible underworld of sordid murder rituals and centuries-old vampires with super-human strength and recuperative powers.

Caught and beaten to within an inch of his life, Hoshino is rescued from certain death by Miyako’s new servant, Brigitte (Yamaguchi Sayo). His bond with Miyako (also a vampire) becomes very personal, and a deadly love triangle forms with Ukyo less than pleased with his sire’s new choice of mate. One thing is for certain: much more blood will be spilt before this bizarre case is resolved.

The key strength of “Blood” is also its main weakness. It has a simple story to tell, and Shimoyama tells it efficiently, keeping events moving swiftly along. However, the viewer is left with an unshakeable, nagging feeling that the movie would have benefitted from a little more depth and attention to detail. For example, in order to stand a chance when squaring up to Ukyo, Hoshino has to be trained how to fight. Rather than the sequence of punishing training scenes witnessed in “The Matrix”, what we get here is a single, short sequence where Brigitte takes him through the motions.

To give another example, there are one or two brief flashbacks explaining Miyako and Ukyo’s past relationship, but the love triangle never really works because we do not feel enough of a connection between the three main characters. Had more groundwork been established up front, the inevitable confrontation between the three would have held more meaning.

Writer Shingenori Takechi tries to crowbar some philosophy into the tale, but it does not get any more sophisticated than characters spouting repetitive nonsense about the vampire’s curse, be it the “cruelty of eternity”, the “futility of eternity” or the torment of souls trapped in eternal darkness. The plight of blood suckers has been covered much more successfully in other films and TV series such as “Let The Right One In” and True Blood.

On a more positive note, there is plenty here to keep fans of action-packed horror movies happy. The film features number of decent fight scenes, each involving thrilling swordplay or kung fu. The choreography is proficient and thankfully quite restrained in comparison with some of the more outlandish wire-fu seen in other Oriental films.

The plentiful sex scenes are soft core and reasonably titillating rather than heavy-handed, and also in keeping with the Hammer-style gothic qualities of the piece. In addition, the production values are solid, with moody lighting and good interior sets. Miyako’s mansion is especially evocative with its family crests, suits of armour and a dominant wooden staircase. This is definitely somewhere you would expect to find vampires!

“Blood” (2009) is out now on DVD, courtesy of MVM. The disc’s special features only amount to a few trailers and TV spots. The main feature is 85 minutes approx, certificate ‘15’ and retails for £15.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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