My immediate love for the original spurred a necessary viewing of the sequel, appropriately titled Blade II and directed by the visionary Guillermo Del Toro. After finding out that his weapons master/mentor Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) is being held captive by high-ranking vampires, Blade (Wesley Snipes) sets out to rescue him. He successfully treats Whistler’s fledgling bloodsucking tendencies with the help of his new sidekick, mechanic/inventor Scud (Norman Reedus). The head vampire counsel (or whatever the official title is) seeks Blade’s aid when an evolved race of super vampires with communicable, thirsty demeanors dubbed Reapers begin taking over their civilization. Believing for once that they’re all working towards the same goal, he teams up with a squadron of specially trained vampires (including Leonor Varela and Ron Perlman) to take out the Reapers before their virus spreads any further.
The first Blade is a fun, slightly campy action flick with a fantastic leading man. Blade II keeps the necessary lead actor and kickin’ action scenes but punches up the script, visuals, and cast for a sequel that surprisingly surpasses its predecessor. The story is more complex and developed, with several characters of questionable intention and a few expected but well-handled twists, all serving to enhance the overall tension. The new characters are interesting and vibrant, from Ron Perlman’s hostile Reinhardt to Leonor Varela’s conflicted Nyssa, and naturally Wesley Snipes isn’t taking shit from anyone as the badass title character.
Of course there’s no mention of Karen, the capable doctor from the first film, and while it’s no big deal if she couldn’t return for the sequel, it always frustrates me when the script just refuses to even mention a missing character. Couldn’t there have been a 30-second conversation between Blade and Whistler to the effect of “She got transferred to a different hospital/She couldn’t take the dangerous lifestyle/She died”?
Del Toro brings his signature detailed and colorful aesthetic to the franchise’s moody world, infusing it with well-placed beams of light and a lot of unexpectedly gross moments. The Reapers are sickening in their design, which is a testament to the excellent effects and fantastic imagination of the crew behind them. I also loved all of the new weaponry, including the UV ray bombs and boomerang blade, plus there’s a good balance of gadget-based action and physical fighting.
Blade II has got the goods, it’s as simple as that. This is the second time I’ve seen Del Toro make a sequel that topped the first, and that really is quite a skill. Now, I know that Blade: Trinity is supposed to suck, but I’m wondering if it’ll be worth it for Ryan Reynolds’ abs? Then again I just saw some pictures and he’s got a sort of gross beard so nevermind.