Blade is a 1998 film that was followed by two sequels, Blade II (2002) and Blade: Trinity (2004). The film follows the half human/half vampire and his parther Abraham Whistler battle against the evil vampire Deacon Frost. The budget of the film was $50 million and it grossed $132 million worldwide.
The movie begins with a flashback of a pregnant woman being hospitalized after being bitten by, as one of the doctors said, some kind of wild animal. In the process of trying to revive her, she gives birth to her baby boy and dies. The next scene proceeds to the present and continues with a seductive woman bringing an unsuspecting man to a strange nightclub. As the scene progresses, the man realizes something is amiss in the club yet cannot quite discern why. However, his fears are soon confirmed when blood begins to pour down from the sprinkler system, revealing that most all of the club's patrons are vampires. Unable to escape from the hideous creatures which have now surrounded him, the young man seems doomed until one of the vampires notices an individual who has just entered, whom he calls "the daywalker".
Blade (Wesley Snipes) coolly enters the main dance floor, wreaking havoc amongst the vampire crowd. He immediately begins a no-holds-barred slaughter of the vampires, using a combination of martial arts and firearms to pick them off. Eventually, after fighting his way through numerous guards, Blade singles out one vampire in particular named Quinn (played by Donal Logue), nailing him to the wall with stakes and setting him alight. Upon hearing police sirens, Blade turns to Quinn and tells him "Give my regards to Frost", leaving a burnt Quinn along with the confused human as the only surviving inhabitants of his attack. The police take Quinn's crisp remains and send them for identification. Dr. Karen Jenson plays a pivotal role in the film.
Doctor Karen Jenson (N'Bushe Wright) is the unlucky individual who performs the examination on Quinn's "corpse". During the examination, Quinn shockingly returns to life and feeds on both Jenson and her co-worker. However, Blade enters the morgue, having pre-supposed that Quinn would come back. He attacks the rejuvenated vampire, but is yet again forced to flee when the police arrive. As he makes to leave, Blade sees a bleeding Doctor Jensen lying on the floor, beckoning for him to help her. Due to the doctor's similarity to Blade's mother, he rescues Jensen and they head back to his base of operations. Quinn also escapes from the attack. To suppress his thirst for blood, Blade is injected with a special serum on a daily basis.
The scene changes to the meeting room of The House of Erebus, a vampire Shadow Council. The Elder Dragonetti (played by Udo Kier) discusses Blade's recent intensified attacks, and berates a young Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) for his recklessness in running these clubs. During this scene, there is a short explanation of vampire politics - most vampires believe that they should more or less co-exist with the humans (maintaining a secret, Mafia-like power cabal), while renegades such as Frost believe they should rule them outright. It is also established that there is some stigma from "pure-blood" vampires (i.e. those who are born vampires) towards those born human and later turned into vampires.
The storyline switches back to Blade's lair, where Jenson meets Abraham Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), Blade's mentor and weapons technician in their fight against vampire-kind. Whistler delivers a small speech outlining Blade's past, their current mission and the nature of vampires, along with the power they hold in the outside world. Jenson decides to head home, although Blade reminds her it is a possibility that, due to Quinn's bite, she too may become a vampire. It is also established in this scene that Blade is a half-vampire, and requires a serum to prevent his need to drink blood. Jenson begins to work on a permanent cure for the vampire condition, using Whistler's research as her starting ground. Blade learns the shocking truth of his now-vampire mother.
Upon arriving in her apartment, Jenson is assaulted by a policeman who is revealed to be a familiar - a human being who serves vampires (a collaborator, essentially, that after years of service might get rewarded by being turned into a vampire). Blade rescues Jenson, and later follows the familiar back to another club of Frost's, there discovering that Frost has plans involving a vampire blood-god named La Magra. The officer is killed by Frost at a party thrown by Deacon. Blade and Karen proceed to interrogate a comically obese vampire named Pearl. Blade and Karen kill Pearl with a UV-Lamp, searing the vampire's flesh and turning him to ash. Blade and Karen enter the vampire library but are ambushed by Quinn and Frost's henchmen, along with Mercury (Played by Arly Jover), a love interest for Deacon. Although Blade and Jenson are assaulted by Frost's private army, they escape due to the timely arrival of Whistler.
However, shortly after this, Frost makes a second strike. While Blade heads out to fetch the ingredients for his serum, Frost abducts Dr. Jenson from the lair and badly beats Whistler, leaving Quinn and the rest of his crew to finish him off. Upon Blade's return, he finds a taunting video left from Frost. In a poignant scene, Blade aids a bleeding Whistler in suicide (Blade hears a gunshot from outside, but doesn't see it happen). Stricken with grief, Blade vows to find and kill Frost. During this time, Frost kills Elder Dragonetti by subjecting him to a sunrise, and forcibly gathers the other members of the Shadow Council as "volunteers".
Blade arms himself for a raid on Frost's base, taking along with him specially-designed pneumatic syringes loaded with EDTA (normally used as a blood thinner to clear blood clots in the heart, which has a highly volatile reaction to vampire blood). During his attack on the base, Blade fights his way through a horde of vampires, yet discovers a horrible truth once he reaches the top floor of the building. He learns that his mother (the pregnant woman from the flashback scene) did not in fact die, and is now Frost's vampire mistress, as it was Frost himself who had bitten his mother during her pregnancy. Overcome with shock, Blade is easily subdued by the guards, who knock him out and take him to the Temple of Eternal Night, where Frost reveals the final stages of his plan. Frost successfully becomes La Magra, the vampire Blood God.
Using his resources and vast wealth, Frost has managed to rebuild the temple and intends to use it for La Magra's resurrection, a key ingredient of which is Blade's sunlight-resistant vampiric blood, along with the sacrifice of the other twelve council members (Ashe, Cianteto, Dragonetti, Faustinas who held two seats, Ligaroo, Lemure, Kobejitsu, Lobishomen, Von Esper, Upier, and Pallintine). Through the ritual Frost becomes an eminently more powerful vampire, far surpassing any other vampire's strength or speed, and gains the powers and attributes of each sacrificed member, including immunity to silver, instant regeneration of lost limbs, superior strength and speed, red bulging eyes (from the Kobejitsu tribe), and the ability to walk during the day (from Blade's blood).
With Dr. Jenson's intervention Blade breaks free from his sacrificial housing, killing his mother and nearly draining Dr. Jenson to renew his strength. After Blade disposes of Frost's minions, including the death of Quinn and Mercury, the two meet for one final climactic battle at the base of the temple. Upon discovering that Frost cannot be killed by any conventional means, Blade empties every single EDTA syringe he has on Frost (who is now constituted entirely of vampire blood), causing his body to swell and explode.
Climbing out from the underground temple, Karen offers Blade her cure. Blade refuses, because "curing" him of his need for blood would also remove his Daywalker powers and he would be unable to hunt vampires, and he requests that she make him a better serum, reminding her that "there's still a war going on". The final scene shows Blade in Moscow, hunting down and killing a Russian vampire who persuaded a human to follow him to a vampire club. This sets the stage for the second film.
- Wesley Snipes as Eric Brooks/Blade
- Kris Kristofferson as Abraham Whistler
- Stephen Dorff as Deacon Frost/La Magra
- N'Bushe Wright as Dr. Karen Jenson
- Donal Logue as Quinn
- Udo Kier as Gitano Dragonetti
- Traci Lords as Racquel
- Sanaa Lathan as Vanessa Brooks
- Arly Jover as Mercury
- Kevin Patrick Walls as Officer Krieger
- Tim Guinee as Dr. Curtis Webb
- Matt Schulze as Crease
- Stephen Norrington as Michael Morbius (Alternate Ending)
- The power of an immortal. The soul of a human. The heart of a hero.
- Against an army of immortals, one warrior must draw first blood.
In Comics Scene#46, Lee Goldberg notes that he got involved with an earlier attempt to adapt Blade to television, as a companion series to She-Wolf of London. When the latter series disappointed, Blade got aborted as a TV series. Goldberg also met with Richard Roundtree at a dinner event to see if he would play Blade; they both got food poisoning.
Producer Peter Frankfurt had just finished Juice when he had a chance conversation with the head of Marvel Films about the absence of black superheroes in the comics. "A few days later I got a copy of the Blade comic book in the mail," Frankfurt said. The producer, who wasn't much of a comic aficionado at the time, was immediately intrigued by the idea of bringing Blade to the screen. "Blade appealed to me because he's not your typical hero. He lives to kill vampires and exact vengeance," Frankfurt said. "Blade has a dark side," confirms Executive Producer Stan Lee, who began his legendary career at Marvel in 1940 and is currently responsible for the company's movie, television and animation projects.
Frankfurt met with Lee and fellow Marvel executive Avi Arad, who suggested he contact Michael De Luca, president of production at New Line Cinema. De Luca, who acquired and developed a number of hit film properties based on comic books, including The Mask and Spawn, was instantly receptive to Frankfurt's idea for a feature film based on Blade. "Mike's reaction was a definitive 'Go,'" recalls the producer.
After acquiring the rights to the property, the filmmakers sought a writer who would connect with the complex, tormented superhero. They demanded a writer who would have an entirely original interpretation of Blade's tough, gritty world. Frankfurt and producer Bob Engelman were highly impressed with David S. Goyer, who had the right training and sensibility for the job.
Goyer wrote the martial arts packed, action adventure, Death Warrant, and the unearthly science fiction thriller The Crow: City of Angels. The writer was hired to pen the script for Blade, and he produced a first draft eight weeks later.
Goyer shared the producers' vision of the material. Blade had to have a completely fresh take on the vampire theme; it would defy all of the ordinary vampire clichés. And the script Goyer delivered was anything but ordinary.
According to Stan Lee, who is often disappointed in film adaptations of comic books, Goyer's screenplay didn't miss a beat. "He nailed it," proclaims Lee. "This is a very, very scary script, with a surprise on every page. The vampires are terrifying and fantastic at the same time. You've never seen anything like this before, anywhere," warns the Marvel executive.
At New Line, De Luca was ecstatic. Recalls Frankfurt, "Mike read the screenplay and said, 'This is an epic action film, and it needs an action superstar.'" The producers realized their hero was inherently different from the vast majority of goody-two-shoes comic book characters; Blade wore combat boots and they would not be easy to fill.
Peter Frankfurt recalls the producers' mandate in the search for a director: "We were looking for someone who could bring a contemporary attitude, along with unlimited imagination to the screen." Stephen Norrington, a young British filmmaker who had directed a number of notable music videos, was not the least bit interested in making a typical Vampire Film. "Stephen didn't want to do anything that smells or tastes like a vampire movie," states Frankfurt. Wesley Snipes was the trigger in bringing Norrington onto the project. Snipes was overwhelmed by the director's feature film debut, Death Machine. "It's got amazing special effects, especially considering the moderate budget they had to work with," says Snipes. "It's now on my list of all-time great movies." Snipes and Norrington met for dinner in New York, and the actor was immediately impressed with the intelligent young director. "He has one incredibly vivid imagination," praises Snipes.
For their part, the filmmakers recognized that Norrington had terrific intuition, as well as the requisite chutzpa to push the creative envelope. His extensive background in visual and special effects would be extremely valuable in making a futuristic, sci-fi action thriller. Norrington's enthusiasm for the project and unconventional approach to the material persuaded the producers to bring him on board.
"Stephen Norrington has delivered a film which is a fabulous illusion, yet seems like reality," declares Frankfurt. "It's eerie and disturbing, because it's so real, it makes you consider the possibility that vampires really do exist."
Snipes agrees with Frankfurt's appraisal. "Blade presents a shadow world where the bridge between what's real and what's unreal is very small." According to the actor, Blade is a phenomenal movie. "It's got everything: great acting, great action, pumping music. It's an entertainment smorgasbord. Blade is a really hip soldier."
Blade is an action jamboree. And Wesley Snipes, whose many credits include such internationally acclaimed action films as Passenger 57, Rising Sun and Demolition Man, claims that Blade has been the most physically challenging role of his career. It was a role Snipes was anxious to undertake.
"I've been waiting for this for a long time. Blade gave me the opportunity to pay homage to some of the classic Asian films," explains the actor, who is a trained martial artist. "We're doing things with swords and other weapons, and wires ... things that seem to be only done in Hong Kong." According to producer Frankfurt, the fight sequences reflect the character of the film's superhero. "Blade is highly disciplined, and that influences the way he wages war. He moves with almost surgical precision."
Snipes worked closely with Norrington and stunt coordinator Jeff Ward in choreographing the film's many demanding fight and action sequences. In Frankfurt's view, the close collaboration between Snipes, Norrington and Ward produced unique results. "They're an interesting amalgam. I don't think we've ever seen this mix of sensibilities in the movies before." Snipes, who performed many of his own stunts. Filming began on 5th Febuary 1997 and ended in June of that year in and around Los Angeles.
- Donal Logue re injured his jaw in the scene where he is struggling with N’Bushe Wright in the hospital. He originally broke his jaw in a motorcycle accident a year before.
- In the scene where Blade is chased to the subway, and the subway train is passing by, all the passengers are cardboard cutouts with the special FX man among them.
- A great many hand held shots were accomplished with a special anamorphic-lens camera that also had single-unit sound- the only one of it’s kind in the world.
- Lamagra is Spanish and Italian for ‘The thin one’, and has the female inflection.
- The Vampire Bible is referred to as ‘The Book of Erebus’. Erebus is a god of dark night in Greek Mythology.
- David Fincher was supposed to direct the film. He later dropped out to pursue other projects.
- Stan Lee originally had a cameo that was cut from the film. He played one of the cops that comes into the blood club during the aftermath and discovers Quinn’s body on fire.
- Blade’s car is a 1968 Dodge Charger with various modifications.
- The scene where Karen and Deacon are talking about the cure for vampirism initially ran a bit longer and answered the question of how the vampires would feed if everybody was turned into a vampire. They would keep some humans alive in giant blood bags to harvest them. The bags can still be seen in a doorway during the scene, and later played an integral part of the plot in Blade: Trinity.
- David S. Goyer explained in the DVD commentary that when Karen Jensen wakes up at Blade’s hideout after her attack and rescue by Blade, the script had her discover a jar with a vampire baby in it. The baby would be alive and used by Blade and Whistler as a guinea pig for testing out weapons to fight vampires. The studio however found the concept to be disturbing and refused to allow it.
- The movie playing on the TV in Frost’s penthouse during the party is Mortal Kombat.
- Matt Schulze(Chupa from BladeII) has a bit part in the film in the archive room scene palying the vampire Crease who gets his hand cut off by the booby trapped hilt of blade’s sword.
- The first cut of the film had a disastrous test screening with the audience and many heavy edits and re-shoots were implemented which delayed the release of the film be a year and a half. The most significant changes were the addition of the sword fight between Blade and Deacon Frost and Frost’s death(Where he explodes).
- In the ending as it was originally planned, Frost turned into LaMagra and became a large swirling mass of Blood instead of keeping his form. This was scrapped because the special effects did bot look right. It can be seen as a special feature on the DVD.
- In the film, Whistler can read the ancient Vampire Language. We see this when he translates the piece of paper taken by Blade from the archive room. However in the script, Whistler cannot understand the language and Blade goes to a Voodoo priestess to get a translation.
- An Alternate ending found on the LaMagra section of the DVD shows Karen pointing out to a shadowy figure wrapped in rags on a distant roof top. The character is supposed to be the Marvel character Morbius the Living Vampire.
- Main article: Blade (1998)/Gallery
For more clips, check out Blade (1998) Gallery.
The ending they were going to use before they decided to go with the Blade vs. Frost sword battle. In this version, we see Frost becoming the Blood God.
|Released||Blade | II | Trinity | House of Chthon|
|Television||Blade: The Series|