John digs out his never watched copy of Blade: The Series to see if it gave life to a dying franchise.
Blade: The Series (2006)
Before Marvel Studios existed and created their own Cinematic Universe, they used to license out their characters to film studios. Sony famously got hold of the Spider-Man rights. Twentieth Century Fox licenced several options including the X-Men, Daredevil and The Fantastic Four.
Before all these big budget hits, comic book based films were very hit and miss and weren’t the almost guaranteed mainstay that they are today.
New Line Cinema paid out to Marvel to create a film based on the character Blade. In 1998 we saw the first film directed by Stephen Norrington, starring Wesley Snipes as the titular character.
It was a modest success and I remember watching it at the cinema. I loved it and imported a copy of the film on DVD and watched it multiple times.
Four years later in 2002, New Line tried again with Blade II, this time directed by Guillermo del Toro. Surpassing the original, in my opinion, Del Toro’s talents really shined through and who would’ve thought that a 1980’s British pop star would’ve made a cool villain?
David S. Goyer has written many films based on comic book characters. Before he reached the big time writing such blockbusters as The Dark Knight Trilogy and Man of Steel there was also television work including the brilliant Constantine series.
Goyer had written the scripts for the first two Blade films and with the third, he decided to take the reins behind the camera by taking on the role as director.
Released in 2004, Blade: Trinity didn’t turn out well. Wesley Snipes was allegedly frustrating to work with behind the scenes. He barely says a word through the entire film!
The character of Abigail Whistler, as played by Jessica Biel was a walking iPod commercial. The only real fun in the movie was Ryan Reynolds as a fellow vampire hunter, Hannibal King. His quick and sarcastic mouth was the only highlight of this film, who can forget his “thundercunt” line! In fact, I don’t really remember anything else about Blade: Trinity!
Despite the end of the film setting up a possible sequel/spin-off feature, the low box office returns probably made the decision for New Line Cinema not to continue.
However, in 2006, the American cable channel Spike TV ordered a two-hour pilot for a Blade television series. Impressed with what they saw, Spike ordered a further eleven episodes.
The series was written by Goyer once again along with comic book scribe, Geoff Johns.
You may know from listening to the podcasts, that I often purchase films and never get around to watching them. The same goes for a complete series box set of Blade:The Series that I purchased many years ago and never watched until now.
The British DVD release.
“Blade: The Series” stars Kirk “Sticky” Jones as Blade, the Daywalker: the half-vampire, half-human vampire hunter.
Following the titanic events of the “Blade” film trilogy, the hybrid warrior finds a new base of operations in Detroit, complete with fresh sets of allies and enemies.
The pilot episode opens with Blade chasing down a Russian general and learning that bodies are being shipped to Detroit for someone known as Marcus Van Sciver. Blade dispatches the vampire whose blood fills the screen revealing the full titles for this series, Blade: The House of Chthon (although the subtitle was changed to The Series in the following episodes).
Soon after, a blindfolded young man, Zak, is being escorted to the edge of the docks. Once he realises where he is and what’s going to happen he starts to beg for his life. A well-dressed man who we learn is the aforementioned Marcus Van Sciver, informs Zak that he has been peeking behind too many closed doors and promptly shoots him.
Krista Starr, a US soldier, returns home from a tour of Iraq to a warm family reunion. However, her brother Zak is nowhere to be seen. Her parents cannot help and she decides to investigate for herself.
After stealing a file from a corrupt cop who works for the vampires, known as a “familiar”, she discovers that her own brother was also working for the vampires. A “familiar” works for a vampire in the hope that one day they will be turned by their masters and live for eternity.
She discovers that Zak was working for Marcus and these investigations cause her and Blade’s path to collide. Krista decides to take on Marcus herself but is captured. Marcus decides to turn her into a creature of the night.
Blade storms the House of Chthon and during the ensuing fight is attacked by Krista. He captures her and injects her with a serum. This serum controls the vampires urge for blood lust and Blade regularly uses this on himself.
When Krista makes her first visit into the night as a vampire, she visits her brother’s grave whereupon she encounters Blade. Blade explains the purpose of the serum and that Zak was working for him as an inside agent.
Blade asks Krista to continue her brothers work as she is now a perfect vampire spy. She agrees, not for Blade’s sake but so she can avenge her brother’s death.
Meanwhile, a secondary plot that will run through the entire first season involves Marcus working on the Aurora Project. This project is hoping to create a vaccine would hopefully cure all vampires of their genetic weakness to sunlight, silver and garlic etc.
During the show, it transpires that Marcus is a “turnblood”, he was once a human and there is a class war between themselves and the “purebloods”, those who were born a vampire.
This is a little bit creepy when the leader of the House of Chthon is reveal to be a pureblood girl of around eight years old. She exudes an intelligence beyond her physical appearance and her scene with a human baby actually made my skin crawl.
The Cast of Blade: The Series (L to R) Chase, Marcus, Blade, Krista and Shen
Released on the Spike TV network in the summer of 2006, this was their first original scripted series.
As Blade at this point had been a cinematic experience, it took me a little while to get used to the television budget version. There are notable differences, for example, stock footage of Blade on his motorcycle or in his car being used whenever he travels somewhere.
The fights in the first episode felt a little clunky but they improve as the season progresses and the encounters can sometimes be gruesome as well as this wasn’t made for a large family friendly television network.
Blade: The Series contains a smattering of swearing, naked ladies and plenty of blood to go around the whole season. It is a show about vampires after all! In fact, I thought the female nudity was maybe a contractual clause at first. During the first half of the season, there was nearly one pair of naked breasts per episode!
Blade: The Series comprised of twelve episodes and apart from one near the end which feels like a standalone episode, the primary story runs through the remaining eleven parts. I found the story compelling and watched several episodes in several settings as I became hooked on the series.
Naturally, with hopes of an ongoing show, the final episode, ends with a cliff-hanger that unfortunately, will never be resolved.
The only minor setback I had was when I nearly abandoned the show after the first thirty minutes of the pilot episode. The low budget look of the show was admittedly putting me off and the story felt clichéd.
Blade is played by Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones and whilst the similarities to Wesley Snipes portrayal of the titular character is there, Kirk makes his own impression. Being a television show Blade has to talk a lot more than he ever did in the films but when he does, it’s still sharp and to the point.
Whistler was Blade’s tech guy who built the weapons and retrieved the information to help find the vampires, but he was attacked and killed in the film series. To replace him is Nelson Lee as Shen.
Shen is working with Blade who in return will help him track down certain vampires. This is revealed towards the end of the series but unfortunately never elaborated on any further. Shen isn’t always stuck in Blade’s hideaway and often goes on attack missions as the backup.
Krista Starr is played by Jill Wagner who not only looks beautiful (they certainly dress her in plenty of cleavage revealing outfits during the season) but she can also kick ass when she needs to. She soon becomes Marcus’s favourite and she uses this to her advantage to try and discover what his plans are.
While Marcus is falling for Krista, others see through the deception, mainly fellow vampire Chase played by Jessica Gower. She constantly tries to undermine Krista and restore her place to at Marcus’s side.
When you need a villain for your film, who do Hollywood turn to? Usually the British and they made no exception here. Marcus is played by British actor Neil Jackson. As you find out later in the season Marcus originally came from London, so it makes sense.
Marcus was a great villain for Blade and the pair finally have their confrontation in the season finale.
Whilst Netflix has produced an excellent Marvel television universe consisting of Daredevil, Jessica Jones with more yet to come (not forgetting ABC’s Agent Carter) for today’s modern audience, I think it’s well worth giving this almost forgotten television show a watch.
Blade: The Series is available on DVD and iTunes.