Blade Blu-ray Review

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Year:  1998 | Rating:  R | Runtime: 2 HRS

Aspect Ratio: 2:40.1 | Video Resolution: 1080P
Audio: Eng 6.1 DTS-HD MA, Ger. DD 5.1, Ita. DD 5.1, Rus. DD 5.1, more | Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Italian, Czech, Dutch, Russian

Director:  Stephen Norrington
Writer:  David S. Goyer
Starring:  Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, N’Bushe Wright, Donald Logue, and Udo Kier

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Blade has been a guilty pleasure of mine for a long time.  Its not high art, it hasn’t aged particularly well, and it stars Wesley Snipes who ranks just above Steven Seagal on the “I actually own movies starring this guy” embarrassment-meter.  Nevertheless I’m a fan of comic book films, vampires, and R-rated action films and Blade delivers the goods and is a lot more fun than it deserves to be.

Wesley Snipes is Blade; a human-vampire hybrid that hunts his blood thirsty cousins with the aide of his hillbilly pseudo-father Whistler (Kris Kristofferson).  Blade is feared by the vampire population but  a particularly bloodthirsty vampire named Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) has an ambitious plan to destroy Blade and enslave the human race.

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If you go into Blade expecting Interview with the Vampire you’re going to be disappointed.  Even though Blade deals with vampirism at heart it’s an action-kung fu picture and it isn’t apologetic about it at all.  The film is filled with non-stop action; there’s plenty of hand to hand combat, sword play, and shootouts plus more than enough vampire gore to keep things interesting.  Wesley Snipes has never been known for his superior acting ability but he’s near perfect in a role that requires him to treat his B-movie starring role with deadly seriousness.  The plot is very silly, Stephen Dorff is a villainous ham, and quite a bit of the CGI has aged extremely poorly but in spite of its many flaws Blade is a memorable time waster.

Blade simply looks and sounds great on Blu-ray.  This release is a drastic improvement over the nearly 14 year old standard definition DVD.  Black levels are much improved and I saw no signs of DNR (Digital Noise Reduction).  There is a nice layer of film grain present that is only distracting on several CGI shots where it looks out of place.  Color accuracy is good and the abundant amounts of blood really pop against the somewhat monochromatic color scheme.

The DTS-HD MA soundtrack is even more impressive and is an even greater improvement over the DVD.  The Blu-ray sports a 6.1 channel DTS-HD MA mix versus the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track and the added surround channel isn’t wasted. Surround activity is constant but not gimmicky and the LFE channel is impressive but not out of control.  Gunfire has more ‘oomph’ to it than the DVD and dialogue is more distinguishable during the film’s more frantic moments. The signature acoustic moment in Blade has always been the opening Bloodrave sequence featuring the Pump Panel Recon Mix of New Order’s Confusion.  That sequence alone was demo worthy in the early days of DVD and on Blu-ray it continues to give me goosebumps.

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Unfortunately Warner Brothers has not included any new supplemental materials for Blade.  Instead the same Special Features package created for the 1998 DVD release is recycled here and it feels anything but special.  The audio commentary is still worth a listen and the “The Origins of Blade” featurette is an interesting watch mainly because of how far comic book film adaptions have come since Blade was originally released.  Otherwise most of the extras are forgettable (try watching the alternate ending… yikes).  I would have loved to have seen a documentary with new interviews with the cast and crew but Blade continues to be treated like the ‘red headed stepchild’ of successful comic book adaptions.

Blade isn’t a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination but its juvenile strengths far outweigh its dramatic weaknesses.  If taken too seriously Blade can be easily picked apart but if you’re just looking for a fun vampire action flick then you shouldn’t be disappointed. The video and audio are both fantastic and are noticeable improvements over the old DVD.  The supplement package is disappointingly just a DVD carryover and doesn’t contain any new material which is a shame.  With that said, Blade is still an easy Blu-ray to recommend so go ahead and sink your teeth in.

(More) Full Size Blade Blu-ray Screenshots can be found HERE.

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Written by

Nicholas Herum