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Well Go USA
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/15/2011
All Ratings out of
Extras: No Extras
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/8/2011
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that vampires have been very hot in popular culture over the past few years. (Of course, if you've been living under a rock, you may be a vampire yourself, and maybe you aren't aware of your self-worth.) Movies, television shows, books -- vampires are everywhere. So, that raises the question; Is there anything new in the vampire world and at this point, should anyone bother with a vampire project? Before you answer that question, consider the fact that vampires appear in some form all over the world, and a different cultural view may impact the story. This is something to keep in mind with the Japanese movie Blood.
Due to the fact that the dug too far into a case of political corruption, police detective Hoshino (Kanji Tsuda) has been demoted to the cold case files department. After 15 years, these cases expire, whether they've been solved or not. A particular case, involving the murder of a maid in an upscale mansion, is about to expire. and Hoshino decides that he wants to solve it. He's go to find the mansion, but it's no longer there. He's finally able to track down the owner, Miyako Rozmberk (Aya Sugimoto), at her new mansion. (Somebody likes mansions...) Hoshino goes to interview her about the murder and he's shocked when she names a suspect, Ukyo Kuronuma (Jun Kaname). When Hoshino goes to investigate Ukyo, he's brutally attacked and left for dead. Miyako rescues him and brings him back to life using her blood. She's a centuries old vampire and she has decided to make Hoshino her new disciple. Of course, Hoshino is shocked by this, and he's even further surprised to learn that Ukyo is a vampire as well. Despite his new life as one of the undead, Hoshino is still a cop first, and he's determined to bring Ukyo to justice.
While I certainly went through my Asian horror movie phase a few years ago (didn't everyone?), I don't claim to be an expert on the genre, especially when it comes to how vampires are viewed. I do know that Chinese vampires are often portrayed as wearing traditional garb and that they have to hop instead of walk (something about being repelled by the Earth or something). But, I don't know how often Asian vampire movies portray the sort of Western stereotypes to which we are accustomed.
This is the case with Blood, which is, as far as I know, about as gothic as a Japanese vampire movie can get. Previous movies from Japan have often portrayed the average citizen from living in apartment blocks, so the fact that Miyako lives in a mansion is presumably a unique thing. The mansion is dark and ornate and Miyako's bed, where she takes her victims, is covered in netting. She dresses immaculately and while she doesn't fall under the Eurotrash look which seems to plague every American vampire, there's no doubt that she's overdressed. Similarly, Ukyo is dashing and nothing seems to bother him. The look of the film is heightened and gothic, but never over the top.
Again, this slick look, which combines both traditional and modern elements, may be unique in Japan, but it doesn't look all that different from American projects. And that's one of the main problems with Blood -- there's simply nothing special about it. To be fair, the movie does introduce an idea with which I'm not familiar, and for this conceit (which I won't divulge, but it has to do with how vampire blood effects certain people) the movie must receive some recognition. But, outside of this, Blood is very standard, and I felt as if I'd seen it all before. Hoshino's transformation, Ukyo's "torture dungeon", Miyako's backstory -- all of this felt very familiar, especially if one knows TV shows like Angel or Forever Knight. For me, I expect foreign films to offer something new and different, but this one simply didn't. Even the finale, which delivers the promised vampire battle, is weak, as it combines swordplay with very limited wirework. (Blood contains fade ins and outs which made me think that this may have originally been a TV production, but I can't find any evidence of this.)
For Japanese viewers, the appeal of Blood may lie with star Aya Sugimoto who is a sex symbol and somewhat of a legend in Japan, as she's famous for getting divorced because there wasn't enough sex in her marriage. Her appearance here (where she is topless) may be titillating enough for Asian viewers, there is little her to appeal to American viewers. Blood isnít a total disaster and vampire devotees should certainly check it out to see that plot element which Iíd never seen before, but donít expect this to be the foreign vamp-fest which youíve always wanted to see.
Blood could have been called Cold Case Japan on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Well Go USA. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 27 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. Was this shot on HD equipment? The colors look very good, most notably blues and reds. The daytime scenes look great, but the nighttime fight scene is a bit dark. The picture is a bit soft at times, and complexions can be a bit fuzzy. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.7 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This original Japanese track contains fantastic surround sound. Actually, it's a bit exaggerated at times, but it's great to hear the rear speakers really getting in on the act for once. The stereo separation is good and the haunting score sounds fine. The action scenes provide good subwoofer effects.
There are no extras on this Blu-ray Disc.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2011.