When the world is threatened by a new and deadlier breed of super vampire, the legendary Blade (Wesley Snipes) and his mentor Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) must join forces with the Bloodpack, an elite team of vampire warriors made up of Blade's sworn enemies. These ravenous fiends must be destroyed at all costs in this high-voltage adventure exploding with spectacular effects and martial arts action. The electrifying Snipes reprises his role from the original cult classic, Blade.
It always amazes me how just switching out a director can change a franchise. It can sometimes be a bad thing (I’m thinking 'X-Men', or 'Die Hard'). Other times (and in the case of this movie) it just means a different style and tone.
Away goes the Blaxploitation and real world vibe of the first film. Director Guillermo Del Toro is at the helm of this sequel, and he just wants to have a good time; no more somber tone. 'Blade II' is focused on giving Blade a bright, new, colorful world with more characters to bounce off of him.
We start out with Blade (Wesley Snipes) discovering that the corpse of Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) is being kept alive by vampires. Blade takes him back to his hideout where we meet a new person who is making his weapons named Scud (Norman Reedus). As Whistler comes to, Blade is uncertain if Whistler is the man he once knew but has no time to figure it out before a more pressing matter comes to light.
A new threat to the vampire species has arisen, and is rapidly spreading. Led by the first Reaper Nomak (Luke Goss), the Reapers are targeting vampires. As much as Blade would love to see this happen, there is a problem. Once the Reapers are done with vampires they will most likely start to feed on humans. So Blade has no choice but to team up with a group of vampires led by the vampire council, to exterminate their mutual enemy.
'Blade II’s biggest strength is Del Toro and his creature designs. There is a level of creativity that goes along with Del Toro’s work that only he can do, and that is in full effect here. The design of the Reapers, the new vampire council, and the overall world is colorful and immersive.
Speaking of the vampire council, I like what they do with them here. Instead of having a group of different vampires coming together, all the vampires in this movie are mostly family and follow one leader. That leader is Damaskinos (Thomas Kertschmann), and his family lineage and story definitely gives this world more heft and weight. Nomak adds to this as well by being a better foe for Blade instead of someone who comes off as a petulant child.
Unfortunately, the overall action in this film suffers a bit, particularly because Snipes doesn't want to do his usual Kung Fu stunts. Instead, we get a lot of wire work in this film, and we also get some pretty bad CG. Even worse than the original film bad. For example, in the action scene when the vampires break into Blade’s layer. There is CG for no reason and it seems like the actors involved (including Snipes) didn't want to do the stunts. This goes on throughout the film.
In my mind, the change to director Guillermo Del Toro neither harms the film nor causes it to be better than the original. It just gives this franchise a very unique style, in that both movies feel completely different and have their own strengths and weaknesses. This movie is enormously fun and you can feel Del Toro almost giddy all over the negative here. That is why I love this film just as much as the original and usually watch them back to back.
Blade II comes to Blu-ray in 1080p and framed at a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with a MPEG-4 AVC encode. For the most part, I like this transfer quite a bit and is a huge step up from its predecessor’s transfer.
Gone are the harsh white levels, and the troubling low resolution effects that plagued the first film’s transfer. White and black levels are both where they should be in a film such as this. Blade II was released in 2002, and Blade in 1998, and you can see a clear difference between the two transfers in this franchise.
For a film this old, it has great detail and clarity. Take a look at the club scene in The House of Pain and you will see more consistent clarity than anything on the original transfer. This film has a steadier and over all good transfer.
Well, except for a bit of bad DNR that pops up from time to time. Look at the opening fight scene where Blade rescues Whistler, and you will see some digital noise that is obviously from a bad DNR job. Then there are scenes where a blue or red UAV light comes in and crushes the picture to the point where you can barely see any of the great detail that this transfer has to offer, which is due to bad DNR as well.
Now the cinematography in this film is very bright and vibrant at times. With an older film that has these types of bright colors, they tend to show a bit of noise in them. But that's ok, the film is just showing its age. It would have been a better idea just to leave it as is rather than to do a sloppy DNR job like this.
But for the most part, this transfer is heads and tails better than its predecessors and anyone who is a fan of this film won't have too many problems with this transfer, with the possible exception of some bad DNR work.
'Blade II' slices and dices its way onto Blu-ray with both a DTS-HD 7.1 and a 5.1 audio track that will both be great additions to your library.
Fronts are enormously robust and dynamic. For a movie this old, the dynamic range between the fronts are really great here and at many times surprised me. But the real show stopper here is how hefty they are. Whether the score of the film kicks in or a fight breaks out, they are right there to immerse you in the film.
Surrounds in both tracks work equally as well, with the 7.1 track being my fave of course.They are mainly used to showcase the score of the film, with only a handful of fight scenes really being showcased on the surrounds. But still, it's great to have a track that has surrounds that are in constant use.
The LFE channel also gets many ways to showcase how dynamic it is and getting to show off its legs a bit, especially in The House of Pain, where I had to turn it down. That makes these audio tracks equally as good and worth checking out for yourself.
Audio Commentary W/Del Toro – This is the new commentary on this disc and loved it. Del Toro always does some of my favorite audio tracks. He is full of information and you can just hear his love for filmmaking when he talks.
Audio Commentary W/ Del Toro and Peter Frankfurt – This is just a track that includes the producer with Del Toro and gives him someone to play off of. There is some detail that wasn't stated in the previous track, but there is also a lot of the same discussions.
Audio Commentary W/ David S. Goyer and Snipes – This is a track that provides something different. They both talk well about working with Del Toro and Snipes always offers a lot about his character and his stunts.
Director’s Notes – This is a look at Del Toro’s creative processes in designing the look of this film. It goes through still galleries, creature creation, and effects in the film.
Blade II: Blood Brothers (10min HD) – This is an interesting featurette where the writer, David Goyer, talks about why he wanted Del Toro, Del Toro’s hesitance to join the project, and other smaller details about the production that you can hear on the commentary tracks.
The Blood Pact (82 min SD) – This is an insanely interesting and detailed featurette that gives a whole slew of information on all aspects of the production of this movie. If you are only going to watch one special feature on this disc, this is the one to watch.
There is also a whole 26 min of deleted scenes w/commentary, unfilmed script pages, sequence breakdowns, five smaller featurettes, trailers, art gallery, and a music
To see the difference between 'Blade' and 'Blade II', and how the quality was kept up, is fascinating to me. If you want your Blade with a more fun, horror edge, then you'll love this movie. With a pretty good transfer, great audio, and a kick ass amount of extras, any fan of 'Blade II' should love this disc. Recommended.