Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blood (2009) – review


Director: Ten Shimoyama

First released: 2009

Contains spoilers

Blood or Buraddo is a Japanese film that, in its favour, has some unusual lore – albeit of a Western vampire flavour – and looks rather stylish. Unfortunately the story itself (and even the unusual lore aspects thereof) doesn’t really add anything new to the genre and the whole thing does feel a little like many a movie we have already seen.

Jun Kaname as SojiWe begin with snow and a swordsman, Soji (Jun Kaname), faces several samurai. He manages to kill them all, apparently without injury, but then he coughs and exhales blood. He staggers off and collapses against a building. A woman, Miyako (Aya Sugimoto), approaches him. He says that he wanted to do his duty to the last moment.

a vampire's eyeShe leans in to him and kisses him, tasting his blood. Her eye turns golden, her pupil like a cat. She smiles and leans in as fangs develop in her mouth. She bites. We cut, during the credits, to a couple having sex. The woman is Miyako, we see the man she writhes upon and see his face turn to terror as her fangs emerge. During this scene the soundtrack rocked away impressively.

Kanji Tsuda as HoshinoA girl runs along a corridor wearing a night dress. A man is there, he takes a knife out and slashes her throat. The image of the corpse becomes a crime scene photo and it is being studied by Hoshino (Kanji Tsuda). He has been moved to the cold case section having exposed bent politicians and made enemies. The case is about to expire under the statute of limitations and he decides to look into it.

Brigitte has weirdly blue eyesThe house the murder took place in is now just a vacant lot, though the girl's parents – 14 years on – still put flyers out looking for information. She was a maid to one Miyako Rozmberk (seemingly she has some Czech blood, hence the unusual surname) and Hoshino goes out to see the woman. He pricks his finger on the door knocker and then a servant, Brigitte, answers the door – she has strangely purple/blue eyes.

Aya Sugimoto as MiyakoMiyako meets the policeman but says she told the police all she knew 14 years before – you can tell that Hoshino is somewhat shocked that she looks almost identical to her photograph in the case file. He explains it is a cold case and mentions doing his duty, words almost identical to those spoken by Soji. She looks over at her servant and there is obviously some form of silent communication (Brigitte is deaf) and then tells Hoshino that she knows who did it – it was a man called Ukyo, though she offers no evidence.

Ukyo with a victimHaving got details of Ukyo – a 33 year old hedge fund trader who never makes public appearances (and not even thinking why someone who was only 19 at the time of the murder was being fingered) – Hoshino decides to investigate him. This involves breaking into his home and crawling along heating ducts. He sees Ukyo (who we see is Soji with a new identity) and when he leaves the room as “all is prepared” – "all" being a girl chained up and stripped naked – Hishono gets out of the heating duct. Ukyo slits the girl’s throat to feed and Hoshino runs in, catching him in the act.

Brigitte to the rescueHoshino is beaten for his trouble and then strapped up. He mentions the cold case and Miyako’s name. Ukyo checks his neck – he is still human – and then tells his servant, Yocochi, to dispose of the policeman. Hoshino is driven to the docks, he is in chains and they are putting a weighted belt on him when a girl rescues him – it is Brigitte. What is odd here is that, before getting his ass kicked, Yocochi says “You!” to Brigitte – as though he knows her – but then says to Ukyo that she was a girl with blue eyes, but beyond that knows nothing.

feeding him bloodSo Hoshino is taken to Miyako’s home; she feeds him her blood, bites him and then has sex with him. When he awakens he has been healed and can now communicate telepathically with Brigitte (speaking with the heart). He is then framed for attempted murder by Ukyo and clearly wants to bring the male vampire to justice. The film fairly much follows a standard story arc thereon in (with a nice little twist at the end that I won’t spoil, though it was truthfully only a little twist).

a flash of fangI mentioned unusual lore and it is centred around the vampires. They are impervious to everything, they simply cannot die. To defeat one, you have to injure him or her to the point that they appear dead, then immolate them before the blood revives them, then place the ashes in a lead lined box and even then the soul hangs around the ashes for eternity. To a degree Aya Sugimoto’s performance reminded me of the Miriam Blaylock character in the Hunger and this eternally damned aspect is very much in the Hunger mode.

Yocohi falling apartAs difficult as they are to kill the vampires are few and far between. They have to be of a certain blood type to turn and Hoshino is the first Miyako has found for 160 years. Brigitte is 323 years old but is still human, subsisting on a single drop of Miyako’s blood once every ten days. Properly feeding someone vampire blood will cause them to, very quickly, burn up from the inside and crumble into ashes – as happens to Yocochi when he begs for Ukyo’s blood.

Ukyo uses a knifeIt seems that Ukyo was jealous of Miyako being with her victims and went his own way. The feeding pattern consisted of Miyako feeding (which would involve sex with her victim) and then sharing the blood with her vampiric mate. It made me wonder as to whether the male vampires even had fangs – we never see them and Ukyo uses a knife. This, again, brought the Hunger to mind – especially the original Whitley Strieber novel.

The ending feels rushed. The four main protagonists are in a hallway. Ukyo draws a sword to fight Hoshino and then… Out of nowhere Hoshino has a sword and shield in hand – we don’t see him pick them up – and Miyako and Brigitte are nowhere to be seen (they’ve popped into a drawing room whilst off shot it seems). Also, one of the fighters gets cut and stabbed numerous times and keeps going, the other is stabbed once and collapses. Rushed and badly pulled together.

Which is one big problem with the film, the other being it doesn’t really do anything new plot wise (and feels derivative). Okay, I could sit and watch Aya Sugimoto all day – be it in silk dress or naked – but the film itself, despite some very stylish moments, was let down by poor plotting and lack of purpose. 4 out of 10 for the style and the fact that, despite some odd plotting and cuts it doesn’t do anything too offensive.

The imdb page is here.


Margaret said...

Just watched this one. Haven't seen too many good ones lately, so I was actually pretty pleased with this one. Yeah, it was derivative, but I was surprised by the ending, (didn't see that coming) and I was really impressed with the beauty of the shots and costumes. They were not unique, but they were really well done, and the shots all LOOKED beautiful and that went a long way to my enjoying this one, even if it was not particularly original.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

the look of it was the strongest aspect Margaret, to be sure.