Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Bleeding - review

Director: Charlie Picerni

First released: 2009

Contains spoilers

Action and Horror – they are two genres that fail to mix to a degree, though there are some rather good films that have tried. The problem is that if you have great big guns or super flashy blades then the bad guys seem less scary than perhaps they should. Not that there is anything particularly wrong with action films but they do seem, to me, to be a genre of their own.

This, then, is clearly much more the action movie than it is horror and is a vehicle for relative newcomer Michael Matthias, a Vin Diesel-esque (though that might be the bald look) action hero, as ex-Navy Seal Shawn Black.

It begins with him and Lena (Rachelle Leah) in a truck. She has a cut to her face and cannot believe that they killed *her* – her being Lena’s friend Jenny (Madison Weidberg) , we see a flash of a vampire killing Jenny. A female vampire launches at a side window and Black shoots her off. He makes Lena take the wheel and tells her to keep the rig moving as he climbs outside and starts blasting at a convoy of pursuing vehicles. All is well until the lorry jackknives.

a vampire
The film cuts to three days earlier and Black gives us a voiceover about the battle of good and evil, angels falling from grace (never expanded on) and his family dying. As well as Black being an ex-navy seal, his brother was lost in Afghanistan five years before and his parents have just been murdered (though for some reason he was spared). The timing of his brother being killed is a niggle through the film, especially as he sent Black a piece of paper with a name – Tagg (DMX) – and address apparently five years before the film began. Black awakens in the hospital.

DMX as Tagg
He aims to get out of bed and a nurse (Nancy Young) tries to stop him, so he puts her in a closet. He, being Irish/Italian, doesn’t know whether to get drunk or get revenge first (ahem) and so gets drunk. He awakens with the cops over him. This is nothing but an excuse for a fairly pointless cameo by Armand Assante (Soul’s Midnight). He then goes find Tagg (driving his father’s Shelby super-snake). For his trouble he is grabbed and beaten before being dragged to where Tagg is being tortured. A female vampire smells slayer… oh yes she does.

Black manages to kill the human captors and then shoot her. Tagg has to shoot her again to make sure and starts to tell him about vampires. They are solitary predators but every 100 to 200 years a King vampire is born, hatched from the soul of a valiant warrior killed in battle and he will lead an army of vampires – his name is Cain (Vinnie Jones). Black has to go find Father Roy (Michael Madsen, Bloodrayne and Vampires Anonymous). En route he meets, briefly, Lena and Jenny – just to establish a connection.

Michael Madsen as Father Roy
He meets Father Roy, a drunk old letch who, when he eventually discovers that Black is the slayer, is going to help him – especially as Black rescues him from some of Cain’s minions. Tagg gave him silver bullets but Roy gives him real firepower and it is all blessed (both silver ammo and blessed weapons seemed less like lore and more throwaway comments to explain how a vampire might die by gunshot... but the vampire torturing Tagg was killed by an ordinary shotgun with standard ammo though it took a few shots), he also gives him a sword that kinda glows – the blade needed to defeat Cain.

Black to the rescue
Roy warns him that vampires do come out during the day, they are just weaker and what they need to do is destroy the coffins (not the greatest device given there is no native earth aspect or sunlight aspect, nor is it exactly original as a device either). Then he gives the big reveal – Cain is Black's brother which is why he has become the slayer. After a few minutes of running around in denial to mood music he is ready to face the truth. The vampire army is being ‘recruited’ at a factory now nightclub and guess where Jenny and Lena are going…

oh look, Kat Von D and Vinnie Jones
The vampire nightclub stank of the Blade franchise but what let this down more than anything was the acting. Some of the supporting performances were trully awful but concentrating on the bigger names... Vinnie Jones wasn’t really given much to do and looked silly with long hair and superfly pimp outfit. Kat Von D, as a vampire, was cameo material who finished the film sat in a car chasing the lorry and looking confused. On the other hand Michael Madsen was superb and the film picked up a notch every time he was in shot. Matthias, unfortunately, did not come across as the next big action thing – to me at least – Black, as a character, had little to no charisma and the voiceovers were cringe-makingly bad. I did like a line by DMX that suggested that most people think of vampires as, not Lugosi but, “Brad Pitt chasing Tom Cruise around in tights.”

a bite
I said I had an issue with Black’s brother dying and sending him a name and address. We don’t know why he did this and the excuses in film, for it is addressed at least, is flimsy – he knew what he was becoming with the implication that he was fighting it. Worst still is the fact that Cain killed their mother and father but for some reason only hospitalised him and yet later says that “for the blood of kings to run through my veins, you must die my brother.” Why not kill him when he had the chance? Incidentally Cain has a fancy sword as well and clearly the US military must include Highlander style sword fighting in their training regimes.

The film doesn’t go anywhere and doesn't really add anything to the genre. It blows its main set-piece, the truck chase (which contains the coffins, in case you were wondering), in the opening sequence and they clearly decided the Shelby was way too nice (or expensive) to use in any of the action sequences. The vampire lore was minimal and sidestepped as much as possible for the sake of action and all in all I’m probably being generous suggesting 4 out of 10 but every time Madsen appeared he just kept raising the film for me, so blame him!

The imdb page is here.

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