You might call Saya (Gianna), the heroine of this live-action spin-off from the 2001 anime movie of the same name, a younger cousin of Blade. She’s some sort of samurai vampire hunter who’s become the instrument of a secret US government agency in her quest to track down and destroy the demon Onigen (the preening Koyuki), the origin of the vampire pestilence that killed her teacher and protector Kato (Yasuaki Kurata). In the process she’s sent to a US military base, where she saves the commander’s daughter Alice (Allison Miller) from a couple of demonic classmates, and the two go off together both to escape the demons chasing them and to search for Onigen.
To be perfectly honest, there isn’t much in “Blood: The Last Vampire” that makes a lot of sense—it’s the sort of incoherent, jumbled narrative that might pass muster in an animated picture but when transferred to the “real” world seems full of holes. That’s especially true when it’s played out as clumsily as here. Though it was shot in English, the production—a Hong Kong effort shot in China and Argentina by a French director, with a Korean star and a supporting cast seemingly drawn from across the globe—feels like a typical dubbed multinational effort, with even the Americans (like Liam Cunningham and J.J. Field as Saya’s US handlers and Larry Lamb as Alice’s father) delivering their lines as if they’d learned them phonetically, and all giving performances of Saturday morning TV quality. That’s especially true of Gianna, who interrupts her swordplay only to offer long scenes of posing in stone-faced determination, and Miller, whose hyper thrashing about reeks of the high school stage.
Nor does the picture have much to offer visually. The cinematography by Poon Hang Sang has the murky, blurred look of so many low-budget Asian efforts. And it’s not enlivened by the fight sequences, which—apart from a flashback involving Saya’s mentor and some tree-swinging ninjas (a “House of Flying Daggers” knock-off, to be sure, but none the worse for that)—are so choppily edited and dank that they comes across as a muddle. A number of them, including the big final face-off against Onegin, include winged CGI demons—some of the undead being able to transform into such gargoyle-like things—and the effect isn’t much of an improvement over the sort of stop-motion stuff found in American sci-fi pictures of the 1950s. “Blood” might have a lot in common with “Blade” from the story standpoint, but it surely doesn’t have the style that Del Toro brought, for example, to “Blade II.”
This is just another in a recent string of Hong Kong-inspired junk actioners; two that spring immediately to mind are “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li” and “Push.” All are of direct-to-DVD quality, so you might as well wait until this one makes it to disc—and then skip it.