Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman, Leonor Varela
Watch Blade 2 online in the UK: Amazon Instant Video / Rakuten TV / Google Play
With The Shape of Water swimming into UK cinemas this February, we begin a Guillermo del Toro retrospective, looking back at the director’s career, from the underrated gems available to stream to the lesser-known early works that are not.
While the Blade franchise has become synonymous with cartoon gore and awful one-liners, the Guillermo del Toro-directed sequel is undoubtedly the highlight of the trilogy. The gore and one-liners remain, of course, but retain more finesse and purpose; the surprisingly good CGI and special effects add to the melee, rather than being the focus of it, and, in a film where slaughter is the name of the game, Blade 2 is driven entirely by a tense and twisting story.
When a new breed of monster, the Reapers, begin attacking vampires across the city, the blood-suckers turn to their mortal enemy – Blade – to help them eradicate this more dangerous threat. Flanked by mentor Kris Kristofferson, and tech-kid Scud (Norman Reedus, killing the undead nearly a decade before he picked up a crossbow), Blade decides to comply. He works alongside a star-studded elite death-squad known as the Blood Pack, including Matt Schulze (Fast and Furious), Danny John-Jules (Red Dwarf), Donnie Yen (Rogue One), who also serves as fight choreographer, and del Toro favourite Ron Perlman.
The real triumph of this sequel lies in the director’s eye for style and tension. Blade’s vampire hunter is famed for his murderous tech and ever-stoic exterior, brought to life by the dead-on Wesley Snipes. But having Blade and his most lethal enemies fight as one, all while constantly looking over their shoulders for one another, is an exciting move from Goyer, as their similarities become clearer and clearer. Clad, naturally, in black leather, the team are forced through fantastic shoot-outs in a nightclub and a sewer; the blood-drenched fun is always delivered with a sense of unease to go along with all the gross-out action that a Blade film requires.
Fresh from 2001’s The Devil’s Backbone and 1997’s Mimic, del Toro’s success with Blade 2 is born from his eye for the darkly supernatural, which helps to craft a more immersive and clever experience for those looking for a gothic adventure. It’s packed with explosions and a serious body count, but del Toro’s addition of empathy (in the form of Leonor Varela’s Nyssa), as well as Reedus’ mouthy-but-fun tech guy, ensures that Blade’s second instalment remains by far the most impressive of the three.