Monday, September 10, 2007

Shira: The Vampire Samurai – review

Directed by: Jess Centauri & Kantz*

Release Date: 2005

Contains spoilers

This US production of a vampire samurai film had some big ambition but didn’t achieve those ambitions. *Director wise things are a little confused the opening credits show the director as Simon, the DVD box shows Simon and Jeff Centauri. Imdb do not mention Simon but do mention Kantz – the same person? Who knows?

The basic premise, such as it is, follows Shira (Chona Jason). We begin in feudal Japan where she is being pursued by ninja. Her husband, Yoshi (Angeleito Bautista), chases after them and a samurai, Kenji (Lou Klein), also pursues them. Despite their best efforts one of the ninja catches Shira, it is a vampire that then bites her. Not wishing to become a vampire she commits ritual sacrifice.

Obviously this doesn’t work and as well as the modern day story we get flash backs to Japan, her resurrection and training, plus the fall of Kenji, who becomes a vampire who is after her blood. So, how does she survive? Well the suicide did not end her life but forced her to become half vampire. There is no explanation as to how that worked and it defies logic. It sets the film up to be an unsubtle rip off of Blade.

In the modern day Shira is working with a group of vampire hunters and the vampires seem to be converging. What they don’t know is that, as foreseen in prophecy, the vampire master Kristof (Adrian Zmed) intends to use Shira (who has a partial immunity to sunlight) to create an army of daywalkers – sound familiar? The big difference between this and Blade is that the production of the daywalkers will not be by using Shira’s blood to genetically manipulate the existing vampires but by pureblood Kristof mating with Shira.

To be honest my description of the plot is more together than the way it was portrayed in the film, which is an endless parade of plot holes and bad dialogue. Hell, we even get an appearance by Doctor Van Helsing (Todd Tucker) for no adequately explored reason. The dialogue is so clumsy that at one point the group of seasoned vampire hunters sit around and pool what they know about vampires so the rules can be given to the audience in a scene that is so unsubtle and sticks out like such a sore thumb it is actually painful to watch.

There are aspects unexplored. Shira has a mystic blade but it is pointless and any old sword seems to do when fighting vampires. In another Blade rip off Shira has a serum she takes, we see the serum and, in fact, get an entire scene dedicated to taking it but it is not explained or explored in any way. There are aspects that make no sense. Shira is captured and an egg removed. Kristof then tells the Nazi doctor vampire (don’t ask) that he can do what he wants with her. Okay… what if they failed to produce a child with the one egg they’ve taken – what then oh master vampire?

The fight scenes in this are okay, which is about the best you can say about the production, though the ending so rips off Enter the Dragon – and not well. The acting is poor throughout, though the poor dialogue doesn’t help, with only Zmed really engaging the audience. The biggest sin of the film is that, despite shamelessly ripping off great movies, it is ultimately very boring. All in all, not a good movie. 1 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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