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Rise: Blood Hunter (2007)
11th Jan 08
Sadie Blake (Lucy Lui) is an L.A. reporter whose investigations into a series of gruesome murders sees her attracting the attention of the vampire cult behind the killings before she ends up biting it becoming a victim herself.
Waking up in a morgue, as you do, Blake is now a vampire, meaning she has to cope with those troublesome sudden desperate urges for blood that come with the territory. She vows to make those pay that are responsible for her situation and she starts to take them out one by one.
Blake crosses paths with chunky detective Clyde Rawlins (Michael Chikilis), whose life has been turned upside down by the butchering of his daughter by the very same bunch of vampires. Between them they strike an uneasy alliance as they home in on the main vampire Bishop (James D'Arcy) with a view to ending his reign.
The public are suckers for vampires! Vampires are arguably be the most prevalent monster in all forms of entertainment be it literature; from Bram Stoker to Anne Rice; TV; Buffy being the most obvious example or more notably cinema. From the black and white thrills of Nosferatu to the recent graphic novel adaptation 30 Days of Night, vampires have always been a mainstay. There is something very alluring about their sexy un-dead way that can transcend trends and mainly deliver, unless it's John Carpenter's Vampires, and even dated fare like Tobe Hooper's Salem's Lot can tuck in the odd scare.
Rise: Blood Hunter reads like it should be a female Blade. Following a brutal attack by two members of a vampire cult, Lucy Liu's reporter comes back a vampire, keen to seek revenge on those that made her so. Armed with a ridiculously teeny crossbow (why not something more substantial?) Lui's Sadie Blake (which is one letter away from being 'Blade') bounces elf-like from offing one vampire cult member to another. Rise just doesn't play right. It feels like an extended pilot for a more gruesome than usual TV series, albeit rather a grim one. There is oodles of mood but no pace and the movies loses momentum the further in it plays in.
Writer / Director Sebastian Gutierrez, who scripted The Eye remake and was previously responsible for inking Snakes on a Plane and Gothika, has created a rather muddled affair. The opening section feels confused and it's not until Blake is dumped off and left for dead that things start to gel. On the plus side Guterrez isn't shy of splashing out on the red stuff and the scene in which Blake is fed upon and sexually assaulted by a man and woman vampire is affecting stuff. If only there was more of it. There's a much better film in here struggling to get out.
Michael Chikilis looks like a stockier Bruce Willis with his growth of facial hair. Mako, in his last live action film stars as Poe (he did a voiceover for the TMNT movie). Robert Forster pops up all too briefly at the start in the bar, his scene-setter working well as you kind of expect the beauty chatting him up to turn out to be a vampire when it's not the case at all. Lucy Liu has made some interesting career choices such as Kill Bill Volume One and Cypher; Rise isn't one of them. She sleepwalks from one situation to the next delivering her lines in her becoming standard flat manner. For those that may be interested Marilyn Manson pops up as a bartender, virtually unrecognisable without his usual make-up, making the most impression of an otherwise bum cast. I haven't been this bored by vampires since I recently revisited Eighties cult movie Near Dark.
Coming from Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures production house, the same company that fudged The Grudge remake, Rise: Blood Hunter had its worldwide premiere at the Tribeca film festival and was later barely released, seeing the inside of just 63 theatres and taking a very poor $1.4million worldwide. This begs the question, why has Raimi announced a sequel, to be called surprisingly Rise 2. It is not confirmed whether Lui or Chiklis will be returning. I wouldn't bet on it for either, more so for Liu who has the added insult of being made to look more like Michael Jackson on the DVD front cover art.