Saya (Gianna Jun) is a half-human, half-vampire vampire slayer who works for a covert agency known as The Council. The Council being your run-of-the-mill secret society dedicated to making vampires extinct, a la the Council in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and others. (I can’t really diss the trope, as it’s one I employ in my stories.) Like Buffy, Saya has a handler, Michael (Liam Cunningham). But where [Buffy's]Giles put in a bit of effort trying to school Buffy in the intricacies of supernatural lore, Michael’s primary job is to bring Saya little bottles of blood, wrapped discretely in brown paper bags and placed in her little, dorm-room style fridge.
There are indications that The Council isn’t exactly giddy about the prospect of working with a vampire, but Saya and The Council have a shared goal. Killing Onigen, the obligatory, really bad, boss of all vampires. Onigen, played by the lovely Koyuki, glides about, dressed in white robes and smiling serenely while killing the owner of the resort where she is staying. That’s it. Her reign of terror. One obsequious hotel owner made dead. Cancer kills more people than this vamp queen.
But Onigen must die because, as Inigo Montoya might say, she “keeled my father.” Saya’s father, that is. The murder took place several hundred years ago, but Saya, despite being a kick-ass slayer of bloodsuckers, still hasn’t avenged Daddy’s death.
When word gets out that Onigen has unleashed some of her bloodthirsty minions on a U.S. Air Force Base in Japan, Saya is dispatched, undercover, as a high school student, with the requisite Japanese school girl outfit. I guess this is to emphasize her fish-out-of water status, but chucking an Asian into all-Caucasian school, isn’t my idea of undercover. Or subtle. This being Vietnam-era, all the kids are dressed in the 70s-style clothing and Saya, in her Sailor Moon outfit, sticks out like a sore thumb.
Anyway, Saya’s only been on campus a few hours before she has to rescue Alice (Allison Miller), the General’s daughter. Alice is on the fencing team. (Some kind of Japanese sword fighting that I’m too lazy to look up.) The team’s coach says that Alice needs more practice and leaves her alone to work with two mean girls. The mean girls, who are actually vampires, attack her with live blades and Saya comes to her rescue.
Alice sees Saya kill the mean girls and is outraged–Outraged!–by the murder. (Frankly, as someone who was bullied, I can’t say that teenage me would’ve been that distressed by the bloody end of my tormentors.) No one believes Alice, and so she sneaks out at night and ends up at a vampire bar. Where … Saya has to save her ass–again. Which pretty much describes Alice’s role in the story.
Honestly, the first twenty minutes of the movie aren’t too bad. But then the bad CGI, flying vampire thing shows up (a rejectee from Underworld, perhaps), and it’s downhill from there.
Admittedly, I don’t like the self-loathing vampire archetype. It’s supposed to appeal to audiences because it makes the vamp more human. Except vampires aren’t human. That’s kind of the point. And falling back on the “I hate myself because I eat cute, cuddly, little humans” trope is just lazy writing. That kind of vampire is like certain vegans/vegetarians. You know the type. The self-righteous twit who has to make every meal an occasion for a lecture on the evils of eating animals.
I get it. We humans don’t like the idea of being an entrée. But there are other ways to build viewer/reader connection with a vampire/werewolf besides guilt over food choices. Or black and white perceptions of good and evil.
You have an immortal being fashioned around a mortal construct, negotiating the complexities of modern life, etc., and the best you can do for characterization is Emo? Gimme a break.
The characterization in Blood: The Last Vampire, however, is scanty. There’s a suggestion that she may have killed her first love. Maybe. She sees his murder in a dream, which isn’t definitive proof. But, for the past four hundred years, she’s lived her life driven by vengeance and a hatred for her own kind, blah-blah-blah, angsty-cakes.
The question is: “Is Blood: The Last Vampire entertaining?” The answer is “Yes, when compared to whatever network TV had to offer.” It wasn’t as lugubriously dull as Let the Right One In. Or as disappointing bland as Daybreakers. Visually, it’s often stylish. And the fight choreography is decent.
Anyone who isn’t a fan of the original anime, or vampires, however, will find it to be a study in WTF-ness.