Back when Marvel was still getting ready to resurface properly with big movies, big franchises and big plans, two years before X-Men, Blade showed up in his first movie and gave us hope that modern comic-book movies didn't have to suck!
Wesley Snipes, of course, is Blade and comfortably leads an action flick with a very simple premise: badass day-walking vampire kills other vampires because other vampires are kinda douchebags. The film opens with a truly awesome sequence in which a human is being led into a dance club which turns out to be a veritable snake-pit of vampires as blood sprinklers are turned on and we're introduced to our leather trenchcoat, dark sunglasses-wearing, katana-wielding hero and we're off to a kickass start. The film continues on that path and remains a solid, entertaining blockbuster from start to finish. The good thing about Blade, as a movie, is that it knows it needs to be action-packed and relentless but also never forgets to have a bit of a sense of humour. Snipes gets the occasional cheesy one-liner and an actual "WTF?!" moment, one villain keeps losing arms throughout the film, Udo Kier shows up to give the film a bit of an old-school B-movie feel, vampires Matrix around in leather attire and know kung-fu for some reason, heads explode left and right...
It's really fun.
The film is VERY late 90's and does feel a tad dated here and there but never distractingly so. Yes, The Matrix came out the same year and most of the action sequences are reminiscent of that particular film and yes, some of the effects, by today's standards, are noticeably not all that amazing but it made sense at the time. Besides, the effects, for the most part, are actually pretty cool, especially when they go all Akira. A more restrained Snipes than we're used to proves to be the perfect choice for the role providing us with a likeable, tough, agile, charismatic, Batman-voiced action hero: he gets what's badass and enjoyable about his character and he makes the most of it. Fine support is offered by Kris Kristofferson as, essentially, Blade's biker Alfred and Stephen Dorff makes a decent, Tyler Durden-style, vilain. The plot and how it ends is by far the movie's weakest asset. We get the usual, cliched, bad guy wanting to take over the world thing coupled with an unclear doomsday machine/prophecy we know instantly is never going to work and it all ends in perfect Saturday morning cartoon fashion with the prophecy kind of coming true, a nonsensical kung-fu boss fight and the obligatory sequel-hoping epilogue. It's basic and has since become something of a tired template for many action films but it doesn't destroy the film at all, it just means that it fizzles out a tiny bit near the end. Luckily, the overall ride is cool enough to make sure we don't mind it all that much.
Besides, if you want a somewhat more "explosive" ending, that's what Blade II's there for!
Despite the odd cliche and corny moment, Blade is still well worth checking out and still holds up really well as a ridiculously fun comic-book vampire action blockbuster. Snipes kicks ass and the film is never afraid to go all-out and lose its mind every so often, which is definitely a good thing.
An early Marvel adaptation with genuine bite.
Pun, again, intended.