On the surface, Saya is a stunning 16-year-old, but that youthful exterior hides the tormented soul of a 400-year-old “halfling.” Born to a human father and a vampire mother, she has for centuries been a loner obsessed with using her samurai skills to rid the world of vampires, all the while knowing that she herself can survive only on blood like those she hunts. When she is sent onto an American military base in Tokyo by the clandestine organization she works for, Saya immediately senses that this may be her opportunity to finally destroy Onigen, the evil patriarch of all vampires. Using her superhman strength and her sword, she begins to rid the base of its evil infestation in a series of spectacular and elaborate showdowns. However, it is not until she forms her first human friendship in centuries with the young daughter of the base’s general that Saya learns of her greatest power over Onigen may well be her ability for human connection.
With a healthy dose of martial arts, samurai swords and vampires (obviously!), Blood: The Last Vampire seems to have everything going for it. It’s a gory one for sure, but not in a repulsive way – if that even makes any logical sense at all! The violence was very stylised in an almost Tarantino-esque way, with limbs being severed and heads cut off within seconds and little time given to care about these poor people. This is everything an action/thriller/horror film should be and then some, throwing in a mixture of elements which have not been seen before in a stimulating way. I must confess that before reviewing this film I had sadly not even heard of it before, which is a real shame considering all of the rubbish which gets huge promotion campaigns and therefore dominate the market.
I found it interesting and surprising that Blood: The Last Vampire was done mostly in English with only a smattering of Japanese (more so towards the end of the film), because it definitely had Japanese influences all over it. This blend of Japanese culture with the English language makes it very appealing to a Western audience, who are renowned for their reluctance to read subtitles. I don’t know if this is too trite a connection to draw, but whilst watching Blood: The Last Vampire, I couldn’t help but see similarities with Joss Whedon’s sci-fi series, Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Both of which feature a young, attractive girl with immense fighting powers fending off hordes of vampires! Clearly, this is a combination which works well. If the formula works, why change it?
This film is about a girl named Saya, who is half human and half vampire who has teamed up with the humans to hunt and kill ‘full’ vampires. Already there is the suggestion of conflict in Saya’s character, being a hybrid of the two ‘species’. Saya goes undercover in a High School on an American air base in Tokyo (the film is set in the 1970s). She befriends an American girl, called Alice, at the school, who is attacked by some vampires who are disguised as classmates and the two of them form a bizarre relationship in which Saya has to save Alice at every step of the way. Saya’s ultimate aim during the course of Blood: The Last Vampire, is to take down the most powerful vampire of all, called Onigen. When Saya finally confronts Onigen, a revelation takes place which adds a whole sense of emotion and drama to the whole piece – there has to be some sentimentality behind all of the senseless fighting, after all! The ending is something I have the most trouble with, but ultimately, the loose ends are tied up and I suppose I can’t ask for more than that.
The action was very entertaining to watch, despite the fact that the CGI wasn’t all that realistic. That didn’t turn out to be that important though, as I personally found the fast-paced camerawork and speedy movements of the fighters exciting and captivating. The editing of the fight scenes has actually been criticised for being too fast, but I personally felt that the timing was just right and emphasised the intensity of the situation itself. Besides, we’re living in the MTV generation now so we’ve all been conditioned to enjoy the frenetic pace of clips!
Where I felt Blood: The Last Vampire fell down is towards the end of the film when it went off at a complete tangent. I’m aware that this is based on an anime film made in 2000 of the same name, but unfortunately I have not actually seen this so I cannot offer a comparison of the two here. I thought that this vast departure from the rest of the movie felt a little jarring and I wasn’t as gripped with this.
I don’t think that the dodgy ending severely affected my enjoyment of the film, and for that reason I think that Blood: The Last Vampire would be worth checking out. Although, I would suggest looking at the original one first as I find it is always helpful to watch things in chronological order. Watch Blood: The Last Vampire with the expectation that there’s going to be lots of fighting, a twist at the end which is pretty much predictable but still interesting and a nice quantity of vampire action (as the title suggests!). This is a totally decent watch.
Blood the Last Vampire (2009)