Blade (1998)

‘Blade’ Is 20 Years-Old And May Be A Little Long In The Tooth!

Before Black Panther and Donald Trump, before sparkly vampires and tax evasion, there were “some mother truckers trying to ice skate uphill” in Blade. It’s been 20 years since Wesley Snipes uttered the words, “It’s open season on all suck- heads,” in the 1998 vampire flick by New Line Cinema. Remember, this was before the giant that is now Disney and Marvel’s MCU universe. David S. Goyer wrote the screenplay for the Daywalker and since then, Blade has been one of the go-to vamp films that are held in high regard.

Blade has been included in such company as Near Dark, Interview With The Vampire, 30 Days Of Night and The Lost Boys. But does it deserve such praise? I recently went back and viewed Blade on Blu-ray in high definition to celebrate its 20th birthday and to surmise just exactly what is so great about the film that most are sure that it is such a great movie.

So, here’s my thoughts…

Twenty years is a long time for a film to hold its prestige, and as with most films from the 90s, aging is an problem. CGI was terrible back then. If you took that CGI to the studio today, they’d laugh you out of the room. The acting is cheesy, the editing is basic and the fighting sequences look staged. In fact, there’s a roundhouse kick sequence that you can look up on YouTube that is now a meme. They weren’t even near each other. It’s basically a dance.

As the film continued, I kept noticing more and more issues. My heart sank. Had I gotten it wrong all this time? Have we all just changed as consumers and viewers of film in general? Maybe I’m now a pompous film reviewer, and I’ve forgotten why films like this are great?

And it’s not as though the film itself had an easy time being made, either. Wesley Snipes himself refused to be called by his name and would only go by Blade or Daywalker. He went method, and that was only the tip of the Blade-berg. In fact, the Daywalker almost had an entirely different face, as LL Cool J was up to play the lead role. Ultimately, it was Wesley’s martial arts training that gave him the winning combination and secured him the role of Blade.

Fortunately, as I continued to watch the film, I realized I was enjoying it, even with the flaws and issues that kept popping up, and here’s why. Partly, it’s nostalgic. Listening to the cheesy ’90s score and watching Blade deliver some incredibly bad dialogue, some of which is ad-libbed from Wesley himself, I realized that this movie is cool. Cool, like the ’90s movies can only be. Cool, like how the ’80s had its music and looks which are almost impossible to recreate. Blade personifies the ’90s… techno music, leather, over the top fight scenes and heroes that never say die.

Blade is a cool dude, from his iconic sword (which I have a replica of) to his sunglasses, car and even Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), his sidekick father figure. Even the main bad guy, Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff), oozed coolness. Indecently, we almost had a prequel movie that would have starred Deacon Frost as a gangster. That would have been very cool indeed, but at the time, Marvel and New Line where fighting over who owned the rights. Now that Marvel owns the damned universe, we may well still get it. Say it with me now… FROSTTTTTTTT!!!!

That last outburst is where the deal is confirmed for me. The greatness of Blade lies in the repeatable cheesy lines, and the scenes you remember with joy. If you are a fan, you are no doubt recalling those right now, “I got his pig sticker!”

All in all, Blade has aged and the CGI is terrible, but it is still dripping with that cool factor, and when you understand the nature of a thing… you know what it’s capable of.

About Ruben Lee Shaw

Movies have been a part of Ruben's life for as long as he can remember. His first film experience was E.T. when he was 5 in a dark grotty cinema in Amsterdam (at least that is how he remembers it). He grew up in South Africa and studied Film and Television production in the UK, which is where he now resides with his stunning wife, 2 interesting teenagers, a fat cat, a crazy dog, and sometimes a dark passenger, (his very imaginative imagination). He has worked on both features and short films and has experience as a journalist/reviewer for films, tv, and games. In 2016 he created his own super Geeky brand called The Ruby Tuesday.  Ruben has a love for horror and things that go bump in the night, although he himself will admit to being a scaredy-cat. Ruben's first teen-fantasy-horror novel is to be released in 2018. Some of his favorite creatives and their creations are Stephen King (It and on writing), Dean Koontz, (Odd Thomas series) Ridley Scott (Alien), C. S. Lewis (Narnia and Screwtape letters) John Carpenter (The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China), James Herbert (Rats) and Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labrythn, Hellboy and The Book of Life). Ruben continues to push the boundaries of his imagination and intends to release three novels and short films in the coming years.

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