Blood: The Last Vampire Blu-ray Review
PictureThe live-action Blood adaptation comes to Japanese Blu-ray with the same pristine 1080p High Definition rendition as the US got, again in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. Detail is excellent throughout, close-ups and longer shots both getting a great deal of attention, and looking superb as a result. Sure, the film is heavily stylised, often taking on that comic-book-adaptation feel by use of heavy processing and intentional over-saturation, but this still comes across pretty spotless on Blu-ray. Grain and noise - of the unintentional variety - are almost non-existent, softness is negligible and there are no distinct signs of edge enhancement or other digital defects, although one might complain that the picture is so good that there is simply no way of avoiding the shoddy effects. Sigh, those demons really don't look scary at all in 1080p. Maybe on a poor bootleg VHS this might have gone unnoticed. The colour scheme is quite broad, seldom betraying any signs of a period feel - is this really supposed to be 70s Tokyo? - but looking particularly good as a result, with plenty of neon lights, deep mahoganies, and solid blacks of the night sky. The movie is almost entirely set at night, and looks spectacular for it, with no crushing and excellent shadow detail. It is not the kind of material you would ever want to show off, let alone show off your equipment with, but still, it is very nice to have it looking quite as good as this.
SoundFor this Japanese release, things are slightly different to the US counterpart, the film coming presented with the same Dolby TrueHD track but also sporting a fancy DTS-HD Master Audio mix. Whilst both certainly do the material justice, and there really is very little in it, the DTS arguably gives a slightly more potent mix. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently, largely dominating the fronts and centre channels. Effects are fast and furious, plenty of exaggerated, painful-sounding slicing and dicing, heads lopped off with energy and panache. There are a few resounding gunshots, and the fight sequences certainly sound punchy even if they are often a little too MTV. The score is suitably thematic, but also pretty forgettable. It rallies the senses for the duration, keeping you engaged, and bringing things to their crescendo climaxes wherever appropriate, but never really dipping into memorable territory. Bass is also quite noticeable, a few thudding effects as the often cartoon violence making you sit up and pay attention. Neither track particularly utilises the capabilities of the format, but they certainly do the best with the material on offer.
ExtrasThe US release of this movie came with a few passable extras, and this Japanese release has a few more, although still nothing of significant consequence, and marginally spoilt by the lack of English subtitles for the few minutes where everything is in Japanese. We get some Interviews from the Japanese (and World) Premiere, but unfortunately they are largely in Japanese. The Creature Featurette offers up some background into the laughable effects (i.e. that damn monster) used, with some of the scenes shown being filmed, and takes 8 minutes to showcase this monstrosity. The Make-Up Featurette is only 2 minutes and looks at the vampire effects on Colin Salmon (and has an interview with him). The Making-Of Featurette runs at 36 minutes in length, with interviews and behind the scenes footage it takes a more detailed look at the characters, the story, and the action, but also suffers slightly from a few moments where there are no English subtitles to translate the words spoken by the Japanese members of the crew.
VerdictBlood: The Last Vampire is not quite the disaster that many have made it out to be, but it does have more than its fair share of faults. Taking the premise from the promising 2000 short anime, it develops the idea and gives us a broader, bloodier look at the world of the half-demon half-human vampire killer Saya as she deals with both her past and future in a world plagued by bloodsuckers. Of course, it fails dramatically on the effects level, and simply cannot be forgiven for this - but if you just laugh at the silly man-in-the-suit monster moments and inappropriate use of CGI, then get back into the rest of the action-horror there is still quite a bit of fun to be had. Video for this presentation is outstanding, audio is decent if unexceptional, and the extras are average, although this release does marginally outdo its US counterpart on the aural front. Overall this is a perfectly pleasing package for fans, though newcomers should really check out the original anime first - and be prepared that this may just not be able to live up to any expectations from that.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £34.09
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