New Blood

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New Blood

Quentin Tarantino's enduring influence on direct-to-video action movies isn't as strong as it once was, but the Tarantino knock-off (TKO) refuses to die. The latest in an endless series of direct-to-video TKOs, New Blood diligently follows the Tarantino-for-beginners template established by such cinematic bastard children as The Immortals, The Real Thing, Killing Time, and Dad Savage: Start with a vaguely recognizable but affordable cast that includes a slumming thespian (John Hurt), a veteran heavy (Joe Pantoliano), a pop-culture footnote (Shawn Wayans), and an attractive woman (Carrie-Anne Moss of The Matrix). Next, add a hopelessly convoluted plot—New Blood's concerns that old TKO fixture, the kidnapping gone wrong—that allows for gimmicky toying with subjectivity, as much gunfire as possible, numerous betrayals, and a blood-splattered finale. Finally, add loads of generic tough-guy banter, style-for-its-own-sake showiness, and copious fourth-generation nihilism. Featuring characters who don't resemble human beings so much as refugees from a dire Tarantino theme party, New Blood is a film in which every character could die in a massive explosion and it would evoke only relief. The best TKOs (Thursday, The Boondock Saints) at least partially compensate for what they lack in originality with style and energy. But New Blood is ugly and sluggish, and all the pointless freeze-frames and slow-motion shots in the world can't disguise that.

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