March 22nd, 2004
Script Review: BLADE 2: BLOODHUNT - by David S. Goyer (April 20, 1999)
Reviewed by Christopher Wehner
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS
BLADE was one of my favorite films of 1998. As an action/horror film it was engaging, exciting and satisfying. Early on in his career David S. Goyer established himself as a solid action writer after his spec script DEATH WARRANT, which starred Jean-Claude Van Damme. Then in 1998 came perhaps his best accomplishment with DARK CITY, it was nominated by APEX for "Best Original Screenplay." Later that year BLADE would be released.
A couple years ago SU did an interview with Goyer, and what I found most interesting about the interview when I re-read it for this review was his comment about how he was "increasingly disenchanted with action movies." He liked dark stories about average people being thrown into dangerous circumstances. He enjoyed creating characters that are "tortured" with decisions and choices -- ones with very clear character archs in my mind. Which is why BLADE 2: BLOODHUNT was ultimately disappointing.
However, let me first say this, for all those hard-core action and horror lovers BLADE 2 will flat out rock. The script is full of intense action and suspense. Goyer has truly mastered the action genre. His detail and descriptions are tight, I never had trouble picturing the sequences. This script is packed with so much machoism and chest pounding that the above average action fan will love it; I on the other hand found all the tough guy language and dispositions to be totally annoying. Some of that is always needed and enjoyable in action scripts, but BLADE 2 takes it to the extreme. It was un-called for. Not only that, all the macho shit constantly robbed the story of any momentum it was building.
The first film, if you recall, is about Blade (Wesley Snipes) a half-immortal/half-mortal being whose mother was attacked and killed by Vampires. As a boy Blade was taken under the wing of fellow bloodsucker hunter Whistler, a foul-mouthed, longhaired Harley riding dude with the personality of a roof shingle. Together they form an awesome hunting machine that wipes out Vampires by the dozens. (Blade must take what amounts to a vaccination every few hours to avoid "turning" into a full-fledged Vampire. This is how he can have all of their strengths and none of their weaknesses.)
I thought Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) was killed off in BLADE, but within the first 15 pages of BLADE 2 Whistler is brought back form the dead. It seems he was only "turned" by the Vampires and was now one of them. Blade of course rescues him, and gives him the "cure."
Frankly, I wish Goyer had let him stay dead. Whistler suddenly being a Vampire was lame. But even with that, Goyer had a chance for a real dramatic moment. Imagine Blade confronting his old friend, now a Vampire, and he has to kill him. This would have provided some great exposition, and a real chance for us to get to know more about Blade the "tortured" hero. Maybe he stops hunting Vampires, contemplates giving up, or becomes disillusioned. Then the call to action, and he rejoins the hunt and saves the day. The possibilities were intriguing to me. But Goyer failed to see it. Whistler is just so annoying, and by constantly allowing Whistler to deliver his spew Goyer slows the script down immensely. About all Whistler contributes to the story are one-lines, one right after another. It got so old I stopped reading Whistler's lines and you know what, I didn’t miss anything. The story moved along just fine without him.
So anyway, Blade, Whistler and a chap named Scud -- a Vampire victim himself who Blade saved by applying the cure -- are at their hideout when a "Ninja clad" intruder arrives and wails on them. Blade ultimately subdues the foe realizing it is a female Vampire (Nyssa) sent from the Vampire Nation. It turns out that a new more advanced hybrid of Vampire is now not only stalking humans, but killing Vampires as well. The Vampires need Blade’s help to hunt these creatures (Reapers).
I thought this was a great plot point, and one that sent everything into a new direction setting up Act II. At this point the story has a focus, the "call to action" is there and away our hero goes. The story line works on several levels. Blade and his team are torn, and not only them, the Vampires are as well. The members of the Vampire "Bloodpack," an elite team that joins forces with Blade, must deal with their own biases and distrusts as well. The characters have a strong dramatic need, and this makes the story work for awhile.
So our hero’s (Blade, Whistler and Scud) are working with the Vampires to stop this new breed of killer vamps. It’s some neat irony and good storytelling. You can imagine the bickering, distrust and of course the possible betrayal. This adds to the story with some nice conflict.
The hunt sequences, where Blade and his team are chasing the lethal Reapers who are lead by a bad-ass called Nomak, are very cool and provide some good opportunities for CGI (Computer Generated Images). The descriptions of Nomak remind me more of an Alien and less of a Vampire, and for reasons that become apparent in the story -- but I will not reveal those here.
Throughout all of this action though the characters are flat, with very little development. Goyer focuses so much on the ride that he forgets to give the reader a comfortable seat. I kept expecting some exposition, and that never really transpires. The pace of the script is completely intense and just begging for a few moments where we can get to truly know more about the characters, especially Nyssa. As I said, the story line was working at first. But I wanted more of a reason to be intrigued by Nyssa, who really could have been more developed; which would have helped other parts of the story. But this is an early draft, the finished script will be much different from what I’ve heard.
Final word on the script, if you ever wondered how Vampires mate, Goyer does not disappoint. He goes into some serious detail with a scene involving Blade and Nyssa, one that will not make it to the screen in its entirety.
The script I read is dated April 20, 1999. It has since been revised. Word has it that the new script is completed. We reported last week that BLADE 2 has been budgeted, with pre-production to start in August 2000, and hopefully hitting the big screen by 2001.
The director for BLADE 2 will be Guillermo del Toro (MIMIC, 1997). I hope Toro is up to the task, from what I’ve read he is a competent director and gifted writer. He has done some work on the script since this draft. Harry over at Aintitcoolnews.com has reported that the new version of the script could be very different than the one I just reviewed. That would not disappoint me in the least. Though I think there are several things that can be taken from this script and developed: the hybrid Vampires, the first story line that brings the good guys and bad guys together to fight a feared foe, and Blade’s romantic involvement with Nyssa. It will be very interesting to see what happens, and hopefully we’ll get our hands on the latest script for BLADE 2.
Cheers everyone and have a great 4th of July, 2000.