Three Ways To Save Iron Fist

finn-jones-iron-fist-netflixLike a lot of Marvel Netflix junkies I was looking forward to Iron Fist, perhaps more than any of the other Defenders even, not because I’m the world’s biggest Iron Fist fan (full disclosure: I haven’t read the Matt Fraction series and I’m mainly aware of the character from guest appearances in old Spider-Man comics and a few issues I’ve picked up here and there), but I AM a tremendous fan of martial arts entertainment, particularly classic 70’s era kung fu movies.

After the brilliant, brutal choreography of the Daredevil show and the depth of love shown to Afrocentrism and particularly to 70’s Black culture in Luke Cage, I assumed  we had a recipe for a killer Iron Fist show. Sadly, it didn’t go the route I expected.

I’m not gonna bash Iron Fist. Everybody has their favorite criticism. You can read that anywhere. Suffice it to say, I watched the whole thing, and in the end, I didn’t hate it, but I recognize it was not up to the other Marvel Netflix shows.

I’m not gonna list all the ways I think Iron Fist went wrong – that’d be annoying. But I’ll list here three sure fire ways to make Iron Fist right.

EMBRACE THE ORIGINS, CELEBRATE THE CULTURE

Iron Fist was created during the 70’s martial arts explosion that stemmed from the distribution of Shaw Bros kung fu movies abroad, Bruce Lee, and the Kung Fu television series with David Carradine.

kung-fu_tv-master_po-young_grasshopperYes, the one everybody hates but few have seen. I reconcile my love of both Bruce Lee’s films and Kung Fu because of the high quality of both.  Bruce Lee is amazing, unquestioned. The Kung Fu TV show (the original, not the modern day one) is amazing – seriously, watch it. With its dissemination of Eastern philosophy and message of peace and love, I truly think the world would be a better place if everybody did an episode a day.

This was probably also the reason, I think, that the early reviews citing the cultural appropriation inherent in the concept of Danny Rand didn’t affect me overly. Yes, an Asian actor in the role would have been preferable, and we can argue the importance of this all day, but in the end, they went with the original iteration of Danny Rand as the Immortal Weapon.  I’m not entirely sure altering the character’s race would have lessened the amount of pre-judgment, just swung it in the other direction. I would have watched it either way.

Anyway, Kung Fu was about Kwai Chang Cain, a half-Chinese, half-Caucasian orphan being taken into a Shaolin monastery and learning the discipline of the martial arts (sound familiar?) and employing those lessons as a somewhat naive outsider facing the prejudice and injustice of the American West (how about now?).  As Cain faced adversities in the course of an episode, he would invariably flash back to the past and his training as a young monk, remembering some applicable lesson that informed his decisions in the now. It’s practically a template for an Iron Fist show.

maxresdefaultNow these dream-like flashbacks were achieved pretty simply, with minimalist sets, mostly black, a lot of candles and the trappings of Chinese décor. The exterior scenes were actually a redressed castle set from the movie Camelot. There’s absolutely no reason our first glimpses of Danny’s past at K’un Lun couldn’t be depicted in a similar manner. It’d be a great homage, and cheap to film. Not seeing this in this starting season of Iron Fist was a tremendous misstep, like showing that gun in the first act and never having it go off.

return_36th_chamberIn the way Cage was a celebration of African American culture, Iron Fist should absolutely be a love letter to the martial arts genre, full of subtle references to everything from Chang Cheh’s Venom Mob, Jackie Chan, and Gordon Liu to wire-fu, 5ven04Donnie Yen, Jet Lee, and The Raid.  The producers should look to classics like Five Elements Ninjas, House of Traps, Master Of The Flying Guillotine, Kid With The Golden Arm and Flag of Iron for how to handle the bizarre martial assassins Iron Fist should be facing. The training sequences in K’un Lun should directly refer to movies like The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and Eight Diagram Pole Fighter. In fact, the direct inspiration for the character of Iron Fist was a line from the first kung fu movie creator Roy Thomas ever saw (maybe 1971’s Duel of The Iron Fist? Thomas doesn’t remember.) in an Upper East Side NYC theater in the 70’s. What better oeuvre to refer to then the wealth of movies that were shown in those kinds of theaters? This is what spawned this character!

I believe there was an intent to do just that that just got neglected somewhere along the way. Just as the episode titles for Luke Cage homaged black culture, Iron Fist’s episode titles recalled the colorful names for techniques in classic wuxia moves (Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch and Eight Diagram Dragon Palm). And I didn’t miss the drunken master either. The will was there, but it needs to be double downed.

Iron Fist should be chock full of references and cameos from the length and breadth of martial arts entertainment. Show the love! Embrace the source! We should see Sonny Chiba as a Hand leader or something. Or have Benny Urqidez show up, or Angela Mao! Bolo Yeung ! Dan Inosanto! Have Ray Park or Scott Adkins play villains. Jeez, could you imagine Ron ‘The Black Dragon’ Van Clief introducing Danny to Luke Cage?

MAKE MINE MARVEL

Which brings me to the second point.

Iron Fist is a Marvel character. We need to connect him to the Marvel universe in the same way Daredevil did. Daredevil was loaded with sly Marvel references (Stilt-Man, for Crissakes!).  The grainy 1940’s footage of the previous Iron Fist in costume duking it out with Chinese soldiers was great. More! Look to Iron Fist’s stable of villains and bring the kind of mystic martial arts action the character is designed for.  Let’s see Black Mariah, Chaka and the Golden Tigers, Chi’Lin, Senor Muerte, or Triple Iron.

OK, I suspect the long awaited meeting between Danny and future partner Luke Cage will probably happen in Defenders, but man I was really missing it in this first season. I fully expected Cage to notice his own bullet riddled shirt (given him by Claire) and ask Danny where he got it. Heck, when the DEA got involved and Danny was on the run, I thought he’d wind up in prison with Cage as a cell mate (this could have led to a killer Story of Ricky reference, with Danny punching his way out of jail and putting him and Luke on a Defiant Ones-style odyssey as fugitives).

Oh and the first time Luke sees Danny use his powers, take note: there had BETTER  be a Last Dragon joke!

last-dragon-8

But I understand that might be best left for another time, another show.

Now what about Shang Chi?

SC-deadly

The early (false) rumors that Starlin and Engleheart’s Master of Kung Fu had been cast had me excited, and, I think, the inclusion of a powerful and savvy Chinese foil for Danny, commenting on the absurdity of his concept as a white savior and kung fu master, would have gone a long way towards deflecting the cultural appropriation criticism. It certainly worked for the last Tarzan movie, with Samuel L. Jackson fulfilling that very role.

Shang_ChiIf Danny Rand is David Carradine, Shang Chi is Bruce Lee, and that symbolic reconciliation needs to happen. Plus, who doesn’t want to see a Shang Chi spin off? I’m aware there were rights issues with the character due to his father being Sax Rohmer’s famous Fu Man Chu, but if The Ancient One can be a Celtic woman and the Mandarin can be a drug addled cockney actor, I don’t see why a single aspect of this character couldn’t be tweaked to make his father an unscrupulous crimelord (maybe even the ‘real’ Mandarin).

He was a big omission in season one, and he’d be a fantastic addition to season two.

And that brings me to my final pont….

BRING BACK RZA

rzaAll respect to HBO’s stable of talented writers and directors, but the standout episode of season one was Immortal Emerges From Cave, where the show touched on the brilliance it could have been. Danny facing off against weird Hand challengers in an honor duel to the death. Writer Dwain Worrell nailed it, but the fact that RZA directed it can’t be ignored.

The grandmaster of Wu-Tang knows his kung fu movies. I’ve seen him speak before a presentation of 36th Chamber at LACMA here in Los Angeles, and his Man With The Iron Fists displayed a love and passion for the genre unmatched. Bring him back for round two.

Buddha willing, there is one.

Namaste!

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DT Moviehouse Review: Captain America: Winter Soldier

Time once more for my blog feature, DT Moviehouse Reviews, in which I make my way alphabetically through my 200+ DVD/Blu-Ray collection (you can see the list right here) and decide if each one was worth the money. Today I review Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo

Screenplay by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, based off a story by Ed Brubaker and characters created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

Tagline: None

captain_america_winter_soldier_movie_poster_5

What It’s About:

hero_CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier-2014-1After the events of The Avengers, soldier-out-of-time Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) begins to question the motivations of SHIELD and its director, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) while running a series of nebulous covert missions alongside assassin Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johanssen). When Fury is attacked and passes along an important data drive to Steve, urging him to trust no one, he becomes a target for the occult machinations of SHIELD official Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) and top assassin The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), while he works to uncover a far reaching conspiracy with the help of Romanoff and pararescue trooper Sam Wilson/The Falcon (Anthony Mackie).

Why I Bought It:

captainamericaMy introduction to Captain America was fittingly #224, a Mike Zeck penciled issue which featured Cap suffering from amnesia and a shady conspiracy by South American villains The Tarantula and Senor Muerte to assemble and detonate a bomb. This was part of one of those three-comics-in-a-bag things you used to be able to pick up at the corner drug store or Toys R Us. I don’t know if they still do them, and I don’t know why somebody got this for me (I was three and obviously still in my make up the story since I can’t read it stage), but the two subsequent issues, #225 and #226, involved false memories and Cap’s body being returned to his pre-super soldier physique, and an attack by an army of SHIELD agents turned into Red Skulls.

I was always aware of Captain America, watched the early movies, dug his motorcycle, wore the Underoos, but never really got into the character till the cover for Captain America: The New Deal caught my eye at a convention and I retroactively started reading the title again.

By the time the movie Captain America: The First Avenger came about Captain America had become my favorite Marvel superhero.  What I like about Cap is that although he seems underpowered compared to his fellow Avengers, he’s the ultimate human. That is, he’s a human being taken to his maximum potential in physicality, determination, raw, practical intellect, and perhaps moral certitude. He can jostle Thor’s hammer, dodge Iron Man’s force blasts, and most importantly, stand against his own government if he needs to. Unlike many of the Marvel stable, he was a hero before he got his powers. All he needed was an opportunity. His strength of heart is off the charts. He’s the purest American dream fully realized. He’s what America ought to be.

As a fan of the character, and believing as I do that The Rocketeer is the greatest comic book movie ever made, I was understandably excited for the first modern day Cap movie. After a stellar first twenty minutes though, The First Avenger plummets in quality to such an extent that I came away completely disappointed and have maybe watched it once since.

As such, I nearly skipped this follow-up. I felt the Bucky character and his relationship to Steve Rogers had been sorely mishandled, and would hardly be remembered by non-fans, and that the big revelation couldn’t possibly carry the weight it did in the titular Brubaker storyline from the comic.

I have no idea what made me trek to a matinee alone to see this. Possibly it was the early gushing of friends. But I did, and it’s simply put, one of the five best comic book movies there are.

CATWS_01Everything that went wrong with First Avenger is corrected here. Instead of barely fleshed out supporting characters and a two dimensional villain going through the motions in a hurried, assembly line story whose only real purpose is to get the hero in place for the sequel, Winter Soldier is a great standalone movie with a logical, intriguing plot populated with rich characters and centered around a great central reveal. It’s a successful merging of the superhero genre and the kind of breathless conspiracy thriller its casting of Robert Redford, the star of the classic Three Days Of The Condor, is obviously intended to bespeak.

hail-hydra-01The intricate and far-reaching conspiracy of Winter Soldier was a pleasant surprise. These days it’s pretty difficult to go into a high profile movie like this spoiler-free. Even a cursory glance at an entertainment headline or a message board or a cast listing on imdb told anybody unfamiliar with the original material the identity of The Winter Soldier. Concluding that the same actor who had played a different role in the last movie was returning for the sequel under a new nom de guerre was no big leap.  But the greatness of the movie is that the big reveal 90% of the audience already knew about turns out to be a sideshow to the even bigger revelation of who/what’s holding the Winter Soldier’s leash. The trailers admirably skirt it, focusing instead on the mystery of the Winter Soldier. I personally didn’t see it coming, and the subsequent ramifications (and the brilliant way they tie into the real world present state of global affairs) send the rest of the movie hurtling forward at a breakneck pace that is supremely entertaining. I hate to talk around the plot, as I’ve kind’ve made it a point not to worry about spoiling things, but it’s so good, if you just stumbled upon this blog and are unwisely reading this having not seen it, I don’t wanna be the guy to spoil it for you.

88milhas_Capitao03As mentioned, the characters from top to bottom are extremely well and yet succinctly rendered. Cap’s previous naivety has here given way to a world-weariness and growing disillusionment with the modern world that comes out in Evans’ interactions Redford’s bureaucratic Pearce and Jackson’s all-business Nick Fury, and yet also manages to take on a tension-alleviating humorous bent for instance, when he takes dating advice from Black Widow, or hastily adds Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man to his ‘catch up’ list at the behest of Falcon. And special kudos have to be given here to Anthony Mackie, who portrays Sam Wilson with infinite charm and humanity. He’s got a boundless energy and positivity in him that masterfully counterbalances Cap’s growing dark side and, I think, serves to turn him away from despair. It’s a stroke of brilliance that he’s a VA counselor and veteran combat pararescue guy, making him the perfect conscience and confidant, having seen what Cap’s seen, and yet still able to draw clear lines and put things in perspective.

captain-america-the-winter-soldier-scarlett-johansson-leather-butt-black-widowScarlett Johanssen continues to evolve the Black Widow character, making her more and more interesting with each movie, not a small feat given that she’s intended to be a supporting character in sometimes disparate stories. I think in this one she’s the most human she’s ever been, maintaining the manipulative air and yet delivering lines like ‘I just pretend to know everything’ with the same dry, flat, assassin’s affect that is entirely believable given her background. Her conversations with the completely open and forthright Cap change her, and by the end of this one, she’s much more of a heroine than she’s been previously.

Winter_Soldier_TWS-2robert-redford-washington-monumentSebastian Stan understandably doesn’t have a lot to work with here, but he projects an imposing presence I didn’t imagine he was capable of in the first movie, and there’s a nice flashback scene between him and young Steve Rogers on the back stoop of his late parents’ place that brings out their fraternal relationship winsomely. Toby Jones makes a welcome return and delivers the infodump at the heart of the movie with pulp villain glee that had me grinning. Likewise, all-American Robert Redford’s casting (I once read a great wishlist casting him in his prime as Steve Rogers) is on par with Henry Fonda’s typecast bucking role in Once Upon A Time In The West.

In the age of the CGI-heavy movie, it’s also refreshing to see such great practical stuntwork and fight choreography in a mainstream comic book picture. Nick Fury’s chase sequence through the streets of DC and the impromptu fight between Cap and Batroc (Georges St.-Pierre) are great examples, and the overpass battle between Cap ‘n pals and Winter Soldier is a thrilling mix of both.

fz-22469resized.jpg__800x600_q85_cropAll said and done, it’s just an all-around entertaining movie. The action isn’t just amped up from the first film, it’s meaningful and inventive this time out. The picture also gives us a myriad of fine character moments. Cap’s melancholy reunion with an aged and senile Peggy Carter (Haley Atwell), his wondering tour of his own Smithsonian exhibit (and the great, great bit where the starstruck kid doesn’t ‘out’ him)….the best nods to fandom should resonate just as strongly with somebody who’s never picked up a Captain America comic. Winter Soldier does it pitch perfect.

Best Dialogue/Line:

will-falcon-steal-the-show-_147216-fli_1382632185“I can’t ask you to do this, Sam. You got out for a reason.”

“Dude. Captain America needs my help. No better reason to get back in. When do we start?”

Gave the little kid in me chills in the theater.

Best Scene:

Captain-America-2-The-Winter-Soldier-Official-Still-Elevator-Scene“Before we get started, does anybody wanna get off?” ‘Nuff said.

Would I Buy It Again? Yep.

Next In The Queue: Captain Blood

DT Moviehouse Review: Blade

Time once more for my blog feature, DT Moviehouse Reviews, in which I make my way alphabetically through my 200+ DVD/Blu-Ray collection (you can see the list right here) and decide if each one was worth the money. Today I review Marvel’s first ever comic book movie hit, Blade.

(1998) Directed by Stephen Norrington

Screenplay by David S. Goyer

Tagline:

The power of an immortal. The soul of a human. The heart of a hero.

600full-blade-poster

What It’s About:

bladepose“You better wake up! The world you live in is just a sugar coated topping. There is another world beneath it – the real world.” In the real world, immortal vampires enjoy a parasitic relationship with mortal man, controlling the population through their puppet police force and world governments. Standing against the bloodsuckers is Eric “Blade” Brooks (Wesley Snipes). After his mother was attacked by a vampire while he was in the womb, Blade was born with superhuman vampiric abilities, but none of the selfsame weaknesses, aside from a growing hunger to consume blood, which he suppresses with the help of his grizzled partner, weapons designer and serum synthesizer, Whistler (Kris Kristofferson). When Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorf) an ambitious young vampire revolutionary, sets out to overthrow the elder hierarchy and call up La Magra, an ancient vampire deity to throw back the curtain and rule humanity outright, Blade enlists the help of Dr. Karen Jensen (N’Bushe Wright), a blood expert unwillingly thrust into the action.

Why I Bought It:

It’s fitting that the first comic book movie to show up on the review list is Blade. Without the success of Blade, there would be no Spider-Man, no X-Men, no Iron Man, no Avengers franchises.

frost!Blade was Marvel’s first big hit. The first of its characters to successfully transition to the big screen and the first Marvel film to earn a theatrical release. Prior attempts at getting Captain America, The Fantastic Four, and The Punisher to audiences resulted in direct to video US releases, mainly forgettable.

What’s so unlikely, is that Marvel took an obscure character from the 70’s (Blade was created by Gene Colan and Marv Wolfman to be part of the crew that hunts Dracula in the Tomb of Dracula title), made him a headliner in an R-rated action horror movie, and came away with a pretty sizable success. This wasn’t Spider-Man or The Punisher, this was Blade. Blade!  It’s like making a Robin movie without ever having a Batman flick, or putting out a picture about The Wonder Twins.

OK, not that unlikely, but pretty unlikely.

But Blade, despite all its got going against it, remains one of the coolest comic book movies of all time.

Every time I rewatch Blade I’m giddy with how much I still enjoy it. I didn’t see it in the theater. It looked like a rental to me. But it grabs you right from the beginning with its super rain slicked visuals and frenetic Hong Kong style action, its nifty CGI (I was really wowed by the disintegrating vampires when I first caught this) and driving, ultra-cool soundtrack.

bladeWesley Snipes looks like he’s having a great time in this one. Before Blade, I only knew him from Jungle Fever, Sugar Hill, Mo Better Blues, and New Jack City, and even though I was aware of Passenger 57, I thought it was a bump in the road in the career of a mainly serious actor. But watching this, I can see Snipes’ fondness for this role in his performance, a barely contained nerdiness that escapes now and then in his impromptu fist pumps and certain comic book-y expressions. Blade is an extremely physical role. He barely has any lines, but he arrests your attention whenever he’s on screen.

bladeduelI can picture Snipes as a wide-eyed kid haunting Chinese video stores for those awesome blurry videos with the barely readable white subtitles and the too large clamshell cases in a carefully ironed coolie shirt.  The guy loves kung fu movies, loves martial arts (became a practitioner at age 12), and it shows in his performance, in the little physical homages he does. Several of Blade’s dismissive, sort of “bitch, please” expressions remind me of Bruce Lee, and there are moments during the fight sequences where I see Jackie Chan in his reactions, Jet Li, Jim Kelly and the Run Run Shaw gang in his stances and poses. I read somewhere that it was Snipes’ great ambition to star in a movie with Jackie Chan, and I wish now he’d got his chance. I’ll bet he was ready to roundhouse kick his TV over when the Rush Hour movies were announced.

Add to that the fact that Snipes is breaking ground portraying the world’s first cinematic African American superhero (Spawn doesn’t count for me – he was masked most of the time, and please don’t try to bring up Meteor Man), and yeah, there’s a barely perceptible but definite kid in a candy store vibe to Snipes in Blade.

iceskateBut make no mistake, Blade is a total badass, so monumentally skilled and high powered that his swagger is totally deserved (“Quinn. I’m gettin’ real tired of cuttin’ you up.”), and instead of dropping a lot of dumb one-liners, when the chips are down, he speaks with his actions. I love the scene where Quinn (Donal Logue), wearing Blade’s sunglasses, giddily announces the latest regrowth of his hand (Blade has chopped them both off at various times) and dances in place with a knife. “I got two new hands, Blade, and I don’t know which one I’m gonna kill you with!” He lunges forward and Blade’s only answer is to spin, neatly decapitating him with a length of concealed razor wire, and reclaim his sunglasses as they fall.  Maybe there’s something of the alternate definition of blade in his name, that of the dashing youth with implied panache and style, I don’t know – but he’s got it in spades. uphillThe ending is off the chain ridiculous, with Blade performing several unbelievably timed and executed tricks, throwing his booby trapped sword into a stone crack, catching the coagulant stuff behind his back, and not being content to just toss them with proven deadly accuracy at Frost, he actually tosses one in the air and roundhouse kicks it into Frost’s forehead. But screw it, this is Blade, and more, it’s blood supercharged Blade. You can believe he’s capable of it.

blade%20whistlerKris Kristofferson as Whistler, Blade’s limping, unshaven mentor and right hand guy behind the guy is great, delivering macho lines like “Catch you fuckers at a bad time?” in this great Harley ridin’ gravelly growl that I love to imitate (and am only capable of aping) when I’m struck with a chest cold.  He spends most of the movie like a frowning old spider in the center of this sparking machine shop web of workbenches and toolkits, metal shelving and jury rigged weaponry. Yet there are cool moments between him and Blade that elevate him above a hollow stereotype.  There’s an unspoken fatherliness and mutual respect, when he injects Blade with his serum and grips his hand as he convulses, yet looks away, allowing Blade his dignity. And when Frost leaves Whistler a bloody, dying mess, Blade betrays no emotion, yet mops at the copious blood bootlessly and with the tenderness of a son attending his father’s death bed as Whistler groans his last words.

bladenbusheThe gorgeous N’Bushe Wright (who I first had a crush on in Zebrahead) provides a little more than eye candy in her portrayal of Dr. Jensen, who is early on bitten by the vampire Quinn and nursed back from the edge of turning by a combination of Blade and Whistler and her own ingenuity. She’s a cool, nominally romantic foil to Blade, doesn’t really swoon overly, and gets herself out of a jam now and then, dispatching the wonderfully otherworldly and decadent Mercury (Arly Jover).  She even provides Blade with the impetus to beat the bad guys in the end, offering her own blood. There is some weird Oedipal stuff going on, admittedly. When Blade first decides to try and save her, she is interposed with a shot of Blade’s mother (the stunning Sanaa Lathan) reaching out to him from the delivery room table, and Jensen’s offering of blood and Blade’s ravenous partaking is almost filmed psychosexually. He thrusts his hungry mouth at her, devouring her, and it almost looks like breastfeeding gone horribly wrong. Her interplay with her ex-boyfriend Webb (Tim Guinee) is great, and I absolutely love the abrupt tonal shift when Webb is attacked by the burned to a crisp and presumed dead Quinn on the autopsy table. It’s very indicative of the film’s tone that as these two characters begin to have a believable romantic tiff and the plot starts to sag a bit into familiar expository territory, suddenly a corpse sits up and takes a bite out of one of them.

La_Magra_(Earth-26320)Stephen Dorff’s antagonist Deacon Frost is a cool counterpoint in physicality and attitude to Blade. He looks like some posing clubgoer, and even the vampire elders dismiss him (gotta mention Udo Kier and Judson – Joaquin from Star Trek II – Scott appear as old money purebloods). He talks a lotta smack and appears to party a lot, but in fact he’s got this cold, reptilian demeanor that betrays his ambition. As his minions cavort and dance, he’s shown obsessing over the computer translation of the vampire bible, burning the candle at both ends. Stephen Dorff has nothing on Wesley Snipes in terms of physique, but he’s still deadly in the climactic duel, and when he’s infused with La Magra it’s like watching a cobra and a mongoose go at it.  Though he walks around in the daylight under heavy skin crème and looks like something out of Twilight, make no mistake, Frost is totally gangster, proving his monsterhood in a cool scene when he executes Udo Kier with the dawn and tosses his fangs on the board room table to make his point to the rest of the elders.

blade-1998-the%20bad%20guysI already mentioned Arly Jover. Mercury’s a white clad skinny as a rail vampire with an untraceable accent, vaguely eastern European, vaguely Irish, and comes across as a White Queen on heroin, visually fascinating to watch and scary as hell.  I maintain that more comic actors should be cast as villains, because Donal Togue’s Quinn is a great character. He loves being a vampire, but is a bon vivant and a coattail rider. He and Dorf have their own brand of fun, ad-libbing some great exchanges like “I’m gonna be naughty. I’m gonna be a naughty vampire god.” And that whole bit where Frost pretends he’s going to cut off Quinn’s hand. Clearly Quinn amuses Frost, as I can’t see why else he’d be allowed to stick around.

The soundtrack for Blade was a big hit, if I remember, the blazing hip hop and electronica complimenting the crazily stylized story perfectly. Particular standouts for me were the opening number, heard in the trailers, the Japanese schoolgirl rap at the vampire club, and that end track that kicks in after Blade catches the sunglasses. It gives the furious action a video game feel that gets me grinning.  I also like the simple pulsing track that plays when Blade and Jensen trail Officer Krieger (Kevin Patrick Walls) through the night time streets in their cars, a sequence Norrington shoots in fast motion, lending it a cool, nightmarish quality.

Best Dialogue/Line:

“Some motherfucker’s always tryin’ to ice skate uphill.”

Best Scene:

bloodbath-realzThe initial scene, the one that pulls you right into the world of Blade.  A dopey clubgoer (Elliot James) rides in a hot car with an even hotter chick (Traci Lords), who takes him (and the audience) to this super secret club located behind a meat packing company (were those bodies in the plastic?). She throws the dork her coat and leaves him standing there, and he drops it and tries to get in on the party, but the beautiful but slightly weird dancers reject him at every turn and eye him with all the disdain of a bunch of Hamptonites whose party’s just been crashed by ‘Ol Dirty Bastard. He wanders through the strobing lights, ogling the dancing bodies and finally reunites with his ride, who is dancing seductively with Mercury. When he tries to cut in, he’s shoved away.

This sucks he thinks, and as the music reaches a fever pitch, he mutters something about needing a drink. Suddenly the house lights go up, the DJ roars in front of a banner reading BLOODBATH! and after wiping a spot of red from his cheek, the guy looks up in time to see the overhead emergency sprinklers douse the crowd and him in human blood.

Horrified, he recoils, desperate to find the exit, and each of the partiers starts popping fangs and vamping out. Stumbling away from horrors at every turn, he tries to run, but is laid out by a punch from some shirtless vampire and falls to the bloodsoaked floor, where he’s kicked and pummeled. The sprinklers drained, the music dies down and the crowd applauds and cheers, some holding up bottles to catch the drippings. Slipping to get away, the one lone human crawls towards some clean whiteness, an abbatoir shower or something for the slaughterers, and a big black boot comes into frame.

blade-1aHe looks up, and the entire crowd of suckheads crouches like wary dogs and backpedals, parting to reveal Blade standing motionless, uncaring of the crimson painted vampires creeping out of his wake, and only nominally concerned by the crowd of the undead milling behind him (“It’s him!” “Daywalker!”).

Blade waits for the inevitable as the music reaches a lull.

But as if on cue, when it starts back up again, somebody kicks it off, rushing forward, and what follows is a frantic one against many battle that perfectly introduces the character of Blade. His fearlessness, his weaponry, his attitude.

If you can watch this scene and want to turn this movie off, yeah, it’s not for you.

Would I Buy It Again?

Yes. But you won’t see the other Blade movies on here, unfortunately. Blade 2 couldn’t touch this movie with its screechy Predator-faced vamps, and besides Ryan Reynolds’ creative cursing in Blade Trinity, it’s a snoozer.

Next In The Queue: The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi

In Teh Realms Of Teh Unreal: San Diego Comic Con 2012

Fortunately, we had plenty of bubblegum.

Not a whole lot of news to report on my trip to San Diego Comic Con this year.

Brought three writing samples and didn’t pass out nary a one, to my detriment.  My friends and I had a late start and I narrowly missed connecting with the IDW editor I had acquainted myself with at WHC. I’m terrible at just cold-approaching people for the most part, something I’m working at getting over.

Most of the day was spent traversing the huge exhibit hall and shopping for presents for my kids. Wound up with one of those plushie Wonder Womans for my middle daughter and a Poison Ivy t-shirt for the eldest (she likes Poison Ivy because she’s into gardening).

Open your miiinnnnd, Mr. Carter

My favorite costume of the con.

Of note, there was a seriously intense pair of sprawling action figure dioramas at the Hasbro booh I had to stop and take a few appreciative pics of.

Snake Eyes and Jinx battle ninjas.

Yes – that is a flying guillotine.

I did manage to connect with author and friend Alice Henderson. We had a decent dinner, marred by an unseasonal chill and obnoxious fellow diners (sorry, Alice – you pick next time). We adjourned to the Hilton later and had drinks and talked with Warhammer authors Nathan Long and Mike Lee, as well as Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer, the culinary experts behind the A Feast of Ice And Fire: The Official Game Of Thrones Companion Cookbook.  Nice group of folks. A good time was had I think by all.

2AM on the streets of San Diego. Moments later I saw the Doctor.

Two AM rolled around and we took a pair of pedicabs back to the garage. I’ve never taken one of these things before, being content to walk usually, but given the lateness of the hour and the cuteness of the driver, I agreed. It turned out she was ashmatic, so my guilt was compounded, but we happened to pass another pedicab going the other way and saw the Doctor himself, Matt Smith, yucking it up in the back with a lady friend.So I guess it was worth her suffering?

Our much put-upon pedicab driver….I don’t know if we even tipped her, assholes that we are.

Next year, plotting a three day weekend to really take more advantage of things professionally.

Hasta pronto.