Thursday, June 11, 2009


BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE (fantasy thriller)
Cast: Gianna Jeon Ji-Hyun, Allison Miller, Liam Cunningham, Michael Byrne, Koyuki and Larry Lamb
Director: Chris Nahon
Time: 98 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: Step aside, Blade; move over, Buffy. Make way for Saya, the latest vampire-slayer from Japan. Played by South Korea's Jeon Ji-Hyun with a perpetual pout and sullen face, Saya disposes of her blood-sucking prey with just one swipe of her samurai sword.

If you should think that this is comical and cliched, it is because Blood: The Last Vampire is adapted from the Japanese anime movie series that started in 2000 and spawned manga (comics), novels, videogames and this live-action feature.

THE SKINNY: Saya, a half-vampire, half-human hybrid, is the hitwoman for the Council, a secret government organisation with 'men in black' operatives. Saya, who is actually centuries old, masquerades as a teenage student to infiltrate an American Air Force base in Japan where the demons are believed to be hiding.

At the base, she saves the commandant's daughter Alice (Allison Miller) from the blood-suckers - and the two girls team up to look for Saya's nemesis, Onigen (played by Koyuki), who is believed to have killed Saya's father.

HITS & MISSES: The opening scene, where Saya cuts slices a man into two in a Tokyo subway train, sets the tone for the rest of the show: emotionless, uninvolving and pretentious. That man was a suspected demon - and for the rest of the movie, we get lots of them to provide prolonged chases, slow-mo fights and clashes, and fodder for Saya's katana (sword).

Jeon, who is billed as Gianna here, is wasted here. Her charms and talent, seen abundantly in My Sassy Girl, is untapped here as she wears just a few expressions to play Saya. Ditto that for Koyuki (of The Last Samurai) who only has a cameo, and Yasuaki Kurata who plays Kato, Saya's guardian and trainer.

What works in the anime original may not work in live-action. Director Chris Nahon seems to be translating the action from the cartoon version to live without any character development. Also, some of his slow-mo sequences may seem cool at first, but after repetitious scenes, they get boring. Indeed, after half-an-hour of this flick, you will feel bored and restless.

THE LOWDOWN: Anaemic effort.


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