Did the world really need another Uwe Boll experience?
It did, if only to remind us that no one better translates the vision of video games to the silver screen. This time, Rayne (Kristanna Loken), a “dhamphir” (part human, part vampire) must find the Talisman of the Eye so that vampires are not allowed the rule the world.
Why, the creepy mystic (Geraldine Chaplin), who speaks in hushed tones and metaphors, all while lurking around dark corners with a crooked finger and an evil eye. After letting slip the old chestnut, “I see a journey….”, she peppers young Rayne with many questions; curious that she is even alive, as most of the dhamphir race die at birth or are butchered by fearful peasants.
Wait a minute…..what’s Rayne’s story? Why is she speaking to this soothsayer broad?
As the film opens — on a shot of the biggest cross I’ve ever seen, thank you very much — Rayne is a prisoner of the Sherban carnival, forced to do tricks for the locals and demonstrate how her flesh burns whenever touched by water. The carnival barker tries to rape her as she sleeps in her cage, so she bites the shit out of his throat, and then escapes so she can meet her destiny in Ms. Chaplin.
Was this the first sign of trouble?
Not really. The first ten minutes — easily among the most incomprehensible stretches of celluloid ever produced — feature a chicken beheading, a sheep’s throat-slashing, no less than two sword fights, a crying fit, random shots of people on horseback, and Ben Kingsley sitting ramrod straight while in some sort of dark, torch-laden lair.
Sir Ben Kingsley? The Oscar winner?
The very one. Looking like the love child of Quentin Crisp and Geddy Lee with a dash of gypsy for good measure, Kingsley’s face appears immobile for most of the film, uttering dialogue so beneath him that one wonders why he consented to speak at all. Sir Ben is Kagan, the most powerful vampire in all the world, though he still requires the Talisman of the Eye to secure control for the rest of time. Kagan once raped and killed Rayne’s mother, so he must also guard against her certain revenge.
You mentioned the dialogue…Examples?
“Kagan is building an army of thralls, and we’re on our way to a carnival.” — Sebastian
“Bring me my thralls.” — Kagan
“It seems all this chatter has veered me from the task at hand.” — Katarin
Not so bad…surely there’s more?
Guinevere Turner’s script is one long-winded slog of references to assorted legends, tales, myths, artifacts, and stories; the phrase “I will bring peace to these lands” is actually used in earnest; three out of five exchanges involve the explanation of the Talisman of the Eye, which is combined with a heart and a rib to complete the trifecta of world domination; and after Rayne is told of the ceremony to remove the Eye from her head, thereby tarnishing her soul, she pauses, stares ahead, and actually gulps.
So does Rayne find the monastery where the Eye is located?
She does, and soon after being invited in by a few monks, she sneaks off to steal it. She then encounters some dude who appears to be constructed entirely of mashed potatoes, and who also happens to possess the world’s largest mallet. They fight for a bit, that is until Rayne obliterates the poor sap’s head in a burst of blood splatter. She then puts a cross in the wall, a secret door opens, and she navigates a booby trapped room to reach the eye. The monks are pissed, but are quickly distracted by an attack involving Kagan’s thralls. A bloodbath ensues, as arrows hit chests, swords slice throats, and an occasional stunt double falls from a lofty perch.
Any thoughts while this battle raged before you?
First, the swords appear to be encased in aluminum foil, sort of like the props you’d find on the set of a high school production of Hamlet. Second, the choreography is stunningly bad. No one’s heart appears to be in it, least of all Michael Madsen, who mumbles, scratches, and seems embarrassed by all the weight he’s gained while not working. Most of all, though, this might be the bloodiest movie ever made that didn’t contain a single moment of excitement. For all the (lack of) passion on display, the bit players and has-beens might as well have been playing Old Maid.
What’s this “Leonid’s Lair” I keep hearing so much about?
For some reason that never made any sense to me (I think they were trying to retrieve Rayne), Madsen and his band of Brimstone misfits (including Michelle Rodriguez and Matthew Davis) come upon a castle in the woods. It belongs to Leonid, played by Meat Loaf (excuse me, Meat Loaf Aday) with a bad wig, even worse accent, and rags stretched to the very limit of their endurance. Leonid is surrounded by topless chicks on a giant mattress, but soon he is engaged in a struggle with the Brimstone Three. We think a sword fight is about to ensue, but Madsen breaks a window, letting in the dreaded sunlight, and Leonid bursts into flame before turning into a pile of ash. Better yet, in the dungeon of the lair, there are chicks making out, blood being slurped from gaping necks, and tremendous slabs of flesh being consumed by dirty savages. Who knows what the hell it all means.
Is there at least a blasted sex scene?
While jailed, Rayne is seduced by Sebastian and though she wants to bite his neck, he convinces her to make out first, which then turns into a wild humping session. She rides him like a stallion and, though she tears off her vest to reveal a nice rack, the actual penetration is obscured by a conveniently placed table. All in all, pretty uninspiring. Only Uwe Boll could make sex with a fucking vampire less interesting than the closing credits.
So does Kagan succeed? Does he acquire the Eye?
Of course not, though the final scene is a massacre of Cold Harbor-esque proportions. Decapitations, sword thrusts, arrow piercings, and literally fountains of blood dominate the grand battle. Left standing, of course, are Rayne and Kagan, who fight with little gusto, and even less believability. Kagan is finally killed, and though all non-vampires appeared poor, desperate, ill-housed, and ill-clothed, the world is saved from true despair.
Perhaps a roll call of dishonorable mentions?
Again, Michael Madsen was half-asleep and bloated, so he takes the top slot. Loken’s a looker, though her acting wouldn’t pass the smell test on a porn shoot. And surely the editor deserves several hundred lashes himself, as the film is sloppy, confusing, and incoherent during the best scenes. Ah, and to each and every person responsible for the flashback sequences — thank you for channeling the very worst of David Lynch, adding slo-mo and sweeping camera shots, and wrapping it all up with a charming strobe effect. No, Uwe, it’s fine, I already had a headache.
Finally, what are the five scariest words in the English language?
“Special Appearance by Billy Zane.”