Blade Trinity Movie Poster What's so neat about the BLADE films is they've become a barometer reflecting the rise and fall of Hong Kong influenced, martial arts stylized films in mainstream Hollywood.

We started off with BLADE (aka BLADE: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, 1998), coming out after the spring surprise, successful showing of THE MATRIX. Although THE MATRIX was primarily special effects driven, all of us appreciated the fact that the actors at least tried to do their own fights. So after MATRIX, the audience was primed for BLADE. I remember going to see BLADE, wanting to not like it. I mean after all, we've seen the poor martial arts showings of Wesley Snipes in PASSENGER 57 and his other, so called action films that reflect his self-proclaimed mastery of several martial arts. But BLADE was pretty good; especially the opening fight when blood is spraying out of the sprinkler system and Blade is taking out all the vaporizing-to-ashes vampires. The action success was due to the hands of over 100 Hollywood stuntmen and stunt coordinators (many of whom I worked with when I was a fight directing apprentice on Sammo Hung's MARTIAL LAW) that were attuned into the Hong Kong style of action and wanted so desperately to emulate it in BLADE. They did a pretty good. Snipes looked cool, the fights rocked and we giggled at the over-the-top nature of the set pieces.

BLADE II (2000) came out during the height of Hong Kong stylized action in Hollywood films, where Hollywood producers were desperately wanting to work with any good Hong Kong fight director that made the Hong Kong industry boom during the '80s and early '90s. The film was shot in Germany and only 13 stuntmen and one stunt coordinator worked on BLADE II, most of who were the best from BLADE I. The major difference from BLADE was that BLADE II had a real Hong Kong fight choreographer working for them, Donnie Yen. And although the film was a bit cheesey, the fights still held their ground.

Wesley Snipes as Blade the Vampire Hunter. And now BLADE 3: TRINITY. The Hong Kong trend is basically dead and the fights lack that slick, stylized look, where everything is replaced by tight shots of actors fighting and it's filmed like your watching a boat on the ocean during a massive hurricane, and they're edited using a step printing process similar to Ronny Yu's BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR or what we now commonly see in recent war movies during the battle sequences. However, they're headache-inducing visuals intended to mask that nobody really knew how to shoot a fight scene. It's also the first BLADE film where you can see punches obviously missing their opponents. But the neat thing about TRINITY is that it does those things we used groan about in those chintzy, 1970s, Hong Kong, kung-fu films. I'll return to this notion later.

Yet director/screenwriter David Goyer claims that their approach is valid saying, "Well, a unique aspect of BLADE TRINITY, as an action film, is that there is so little reliance on stunt doubles for the stars, Jessica Biel, Ryan Reynolds and Dominic Purcell (who plays Dracula). They were all training for a good three months before they started shooting, every day, four hours a day, weights, running, fighting, archery practice and sword fighting. With the exception of some very extreme stunts like high falls or pyrotechnics work, they absolutely did all their own fighting in this movie."

Director/screenwriter David Goyer
But of course the unifying factor of all the films is that Wesley Snipes returns as the iconic vampire hunter Blade, who must now battle more than just his urge to not hurt humans. Deep in a remote desert, vampire leaders are resurrecting Dracula, the horrific creature who spawned their race. Now known as Drake, this fanged monstrosity has unique powers that allow him to exist in daylight. To make things tougher, the vampiric leadership headed by Talos (Parker Posey) and her acolyte Grimwood (pro WWE wrestler Triple H), who's in love with a peculiar dog, launch a smear campaign against Blade, targeting him as a murderous monster and sending the FBI after him. After Blade has a major confrontation with the FBI, it's evident that the Daywalker needs help and reluctantly teams up with the Nightstalkers, a group of human vampire hunters led by Whistler's daughter Abigail (Jessica Biel; 7TH HEAVEN, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE) and Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds; TWO GUYS AND A GIRL, NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VAN WILDER). Ultimately, Blade finds himself taking on the greatest vampire of all time, as his own fate and that of humanity hang in the balance.

Director Dave Goyer with actors Ryan Reynolds & Jennifer Biel Goyer, who wrote the screenplays for all three BLADE films and directs TRINITY, offers his take on the continuing success of the series.

"The BLADE films have always had a certain kind of artistic integrity. They're true to themselves. They're dark and often unremitting. The first movie came at a time when people were used to seeing more polished superhero films, more polished films in general. People were ready to see something that was a little grittier, a little more in your face. The Blade films are also very stylish in their own way."

With Goyer's fascination in continuing to write about the Blade character, he confides that characters that are more or less at war with themselves entrance him. "I'm always drawn to antiheroes. And within the realm of the Marvel Comics based films and comic book movies in general, Blade is about as dark a character as they get. He is a hero in spite of himself, but he's a conflicted hero and not even a particularly nice guy.

"In the same way that Clint Eastwood's character in UNFORGIVEN is a very conflicted character," Goyer continues, "Blade is also forced into a position where he ends up doing something for the benefit of humanity, but humanity doesn't really care about the fact that he helped them out. I always find those kind of characters interesting."

There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Wesley Snipes is the quintessential Blad

There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Wesley Snipes is the quintessential Blade. David Goyer recalls the early days of the development process. "When I first pitched the idea of doing a Blade movie, the studio felt there were only three actors who could possibly do the role: Wesley Snipes, Denzel Washington and Lawrence Fishburne. But in my mind, Wesley was always the perfect Blade. So when I was writing the first film, he was whom I pictured. Because he's so well trained in martial arts, it comes to him naturally. He has an innate understanding of action and movement and dance. But he's also a classically trained actor. And even though Blade is a man of few words, Wesley imbues him with all these beautiful little nuances."

Describing the working process between he and Snipes, Goyer adds that "usually what happens when Wesley and I sit down and go through the first draft of a script, is that we end up cutting even more of Blade's lines. And it's always a challenge to try to have Blade speak as little as possible in the first act. And it takes a talented actor to be able to pull that off, and not have the character come across as wooden or just like an animated action figure."

Jessica Biel reveals that she was very excited to be in the film A few words from Jessica Biel reveals that she was very excited to be in the film and blurtingly welcomes the physical challenges involved in the role, particularly the opportunity to play a character with so many strengths. "Abigail is smart, tough and incredibly skilled in boxing, martial arts and all different types of fighting. So she can fight the vampires just as well as all the men in the movie. It's really wonderful to play an equal; physically and mentally.

"It's great to be part of the Blade series," Biel continues. "I just can't stress enough how physical it was and how much fun that was. Of course it's tiring and everything, but all the positives far outweigh the negatives. It's just really awesome to be a part of a franchise that's so loved all over, and people are really excited to see this third one. And it was really great to work with Wesley Snipes."

There are two things that are becoming mundanely common with today's Hollywood action films. One is that filmmakers are now going out of their way to remind us that all cast members must undergo intense training for their roles and TRINITY is no exception. According to Goyer, as filming got underway in Vancouver, BC, cast members, most notably Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds, underwent a rigorous regime of daily exercise; fight training and a restricted low carb diet.

Goyer adds: Jessica was an absolute natural when it came tofight choreography. Goyer adds about her young fighting femme fatale, "It was obvious that Jessica was an absolute natural when it came to executing complicated stunts and fight choreography and she was amazing on screen. She's like a female action figure come to life. We had her doing incredibly complicated moves where she was taking on three or four people at once, with no cuts. She's a natural at all of that. She does whatever you need."

Unfortunately, during her fights, Jessica holds her hands near her chest as if she was pulling up a blanket to cover her neck on a cold winter?s morning. So whoever was training her was asleep during teaching effective or even cool looking guards.

She's like a female action figure come to life.

And the second thing is that since the impetus behind Jackie Chan's new found success in Tinseltown came via New Line Cinema's campaign of pushing Chan as being the only action star to do all of his own fights and stunts, TRINITY is advertising the same thing. And now, TRINITY claims that the film offers an awesome original and new array of vampire-fighting weapons that especially are geared toward Abigail's martial arts prowess.

These weapons include a series of knives that flip out from the wrist and from the tip of her boot (very "Crying Freeman" of them) and revolvers that include an unexpected seventh bullet. One of her most prominent weapons is a special compound bow with silver tipped arrows. These arrows provide a particularly nasty surprise for the vampires, as they include a small capsule of UV light, which explodes within seconds after impact. Custom designed and manufactured by Archery Research in Tucson, Arizona, the compound bows for BLADE TRINITY were unique in that they were only 25 lbs. The company had never previously manufactured a compound bow below a 60 lb. pull.

Abigail (Jessica Biel)'s custom compound bow. Biel finally comments, "Abigail has some very cool weapons that are really unique, the compound bow is so exceptionally strong and is so juiced up that it can penetrate almost anything, including a bullet proof vest, which is really cool. And the arrows travel at super speed. She also has a UV laser arc, which can literally cut people in half. She just goes, 'shoo-shoo' and they're gone."

Actually, this bow-shaped sword-like device, looks more like a "Bakleth", the Klingon arc-bladed weapon used by Worf in STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.

So let's get back to what I meant by saying that TRINITY reminds me of those old kung-fu films from the 1970s. It's essentially about logic. Hollywood has always ascertained that martial arts and fight scenes need to be real, which is why for so many years, they either ignored or dismissed Hong Kong action. But anyone who knows how to fight knows that "real" fights are boring and quick. So for a studio to claim real fights is sort of a stupid concept, after all, what movie is really real and has real fights? It's like the new reality TV shows. Ultimately, sporting events and the news are real reality TV.

Now for a film like TRINITY to even hint that a fight should be real is pretty ridiculous. However, if you recall watching those old kung-fu films you'll remember that the final fight lasted forever (which in a way was part of their charm). Then suddenly, the hero uses his special technique and wins. Which begged the question, why didn't he do that in the beginning of the fight? So when you watch the finale fight between Blade and Drake, this question will haunt you.

Blade's new sword. Also, Blade is a powerful vampire killer who can take on the vicious, semi-immortal vampires, where often times, one kick or one punch can send them flying back 20 feet smashing them through glass, walls and doors. Yet as Blade is fighting the puny humans, why does he need four or five powerful punches, kicks or elbow strikes to defeat the human?

And finally, Snipes and his sword techniques. This time around it's not the samurai sword; instead he's flailing something with one hand, looking like an uncoordinated epee swordsman while his opponent Drake uses his sword like a baseball player about to strike out. There's no sense of danger, no one is getting hit (but that wouldn't matter since their immune to each other's strikes). The point is, why bother fight?

However, the film does answer more questions about why the vampires are trying to wipe out humans, when essentially they need mankind alive for the vampires to survive, and like any other film, it does have its moments.

About Dr. Craig Reid :
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