With vampires being so damn popular right now, I thought I should really review a vampire flick or two. Here's a film from a while back I found to be a little different from the herd. Rise: Blood Hunter was released prior to the whole Twilight thing taking all the fun out of the vampire genre, and thus it is largely untainted by the realms of shoddy urban fantasy. Don't get me wrong, I love urban fantasy (I should do seeing as my own fiction is arguably urban fantasy), but I like urban fantasy with, erm, bite.
Thankfully, Rise: Blood Hunter ain't a film where vampires are overly romanticized. This was put out after the Underworld franchise had got off the ground and had given audiences the image of vampire films as sexy, violent adventures. Sexy and violent are two words that perfectly describe Rise: Blood Hunter.
Lucy Liu plays reporter Sadie Blake, who is murdered and awakens in a morgue as a vampire. The film follows her quest to take out revenge on those that created her. Along the way she meets up with a hardboiled cop played by Michael Chiklis, who does the Hardboiled Cop Thing very well indeed (see 'The Shield', as if you needed proof). His daughter has been taken as one of the vampire clan that killed Sadie, and thus the two of them team up to wage war on the bloodsuckers.
While the film has its fair share of vampire characters looking suave and mysterious, the fop factor is balanced nicely by some rather brutal violence and a script that bristles with anger and rage. It is far from perfect, but it is also a very long way from sucking, if you'll pardon the expression. There is no ridiculous CG, no outlandish stunts, and not a frilly shirt in sight. Plus, none of the vampires sparkle, so extra points there.
Rise: Blood Hunter has a lot working in its favour, such as an excellent performance from Lucy Liu as the determined and icy lead character. The counterbalance of Chiklis makes for great viewing. It is largely down to these two cast members that the film is so watchable, as the rest of the cast do vary in quality. It's shot beautifully, and the lack of mad CG effects gives it a somewhat harder edge.
The direction and editing are probably the star of the show though, and are snappy enough to keep things moving along nicely. The film doesn't outstay its welcome either, and while it flopped at the box office, it has built up a cult following on DVD, and I'm proud to be one of those pesky people that really rather liked it. It may be seen as a misfire, but as a vampire film, it at least offers something a little different to the genre.
Rise: Blood Hunter trailer