Blood Review

The Film

As better film-makers have proved, the vampire is at once a terrifying and pathetic creature. On the one hand, bloodsuckers are powerful, lithe, sexy and simply more than human, and on the other they are doomed to loneliness, eternally bored and alienated at the top of the food chain. Blood is Ten Shimoyama's attempt to update and sex up the lonely vampire fable within a modern noirish setting.

Over zealous cop, Hoshino, has been hidden away in a provincial cold case team as punishment for his over eagerness and inability to let go of crimes until he has solved them. Failing to take the hint to chill out and be as unexceptional as his colleagues, he investigates the murder of a young maid several years before at the mansion of foxy Aya Sugimoto. Surprisingly, the winsome Ms Sugimoto tells him straight out who was responsible for the deed and a love triangle of exsanguination, nibbled necks and near immortals consumes our honest cop.
Tonally, Blood is a rather mixed bag. Bits of wire-fu, bits of erotica and an attempt at modern noir don't really marry well and the result is a film that fails to achieve a balance or to excel in an individual area. The action is a particular weakness though with the wire-fu being rather too obvious and the whole project is hamstrung by limited settings coupled with a lack of imagination in the dressing of scenes which leaves most of the film resembling a Bonnie Tyler video from the eighties.

There is a basic tension between a police procedural and a vampire fantasy which is never exploited well or simply reconciled, and this means that whilst Hoshino is seemingly earnest and down to earth, the objects of his enquiries are ethereal and surreal by contrast and no real reason can exists for why Hoshino and his vamp lover are together. All of the attempts to explore fantastic imagery are rather too obvious with erotica set in candlelight, and moody lighting deployed in spare sets for atmosphere. Sugimoto does convince as a sexpot vampire, but the men around her lack a third dimension and any believable background.
Sadly, Blood is neither one thing nor another whilst being a tad trite. It's not sexy enough, thrilling enough or challenging enough for the eyes to bask in a supposed feast of sex and death. For a film about the basic urges and lifeforce of existence, it is lacking in any sense of conviction and not committed to being extraordinary. Blood lacks spirit and originality, and in the end interest is fleeting for a poorly realised story.

Technical Specs

Presented in a letterbox with standards conversions issues, Blood looks quite dreadful at times. Supposedly striking visuals lack confident contrast, colours smear across the screen and there is a basic softness which hides detail. There are instances of combing, compression artefacts and a basic weakness in fleshtones that result in a very weak presentation. After reviewing this disc and others from the same company, I do need to say that MVM seem to constantly offer transfers that are both badly converted and incorrectly presented in letterbox format.
The film is given a single stereo track which lacks real depth of definition and clarity in the bassier parts of the score. It's superior to the visual presentation but I must also comment that the film has been given burnt in subtitles. The grammar and the sense of the subs are fine, and they are easy on the eye but you can't get rid of them.

Special Features

Given a region two encoded single layer disc, Blood offers a cheap looking static menu with extras of other MVM trailers and various TV spots and trailers for this film. Visual quality on these extras is pretty weak with the same combing and dodgy contrast as the main film albeit with much lower bitrates.

Summary

A poor transfer of a rather unsuccessful film. I enjoyed the director's previous film Shinobi and approached Blood with high hopes which were never in danger of being met.

Film
5 out of 10
Video
3 out of 10
Audio
6 out of 10
Extras
3 out of 10
Overall

4

out of 10

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