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Blade II

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A good example of a can't-miss proposition that missed by a wide margin, 1998's Blade had all the makings of a terrific B-movie, from its comic-book pedigree to its elaborate vampire mythology to Wesley Snipes' Shaft-meets-Blacula protagonist. A surprise hit, it was nowhere near as much fun as it should have been, mainly because it took itself way too seriously, a problem epitomized by Snipes' humorless lead performance. Snipes returns to vampire-slaying duty in Blade II, and while he still cuts a grim figure, he's surrounded by a film that's everything Blade should have been but wasn't: stylish, fast-paced, and comfortable with its own ridiculousness. Taking place two years after the original, Blade II finds Snipes' half-human, half-vampire warrior fighting a new enemy: a vampiric super-sect so dangerous and feared that even the malevolent vampire establishment wants it destroyed. Having devoted his life to fighting vampires, Snipes is understandably reluctant to aid his hated foes, but agrees to help destroy the new breed before it can take over the earth. Kris Kristofferson returns to play gruff-old-coot mentor to Snipes' semi-undead cowboy, and they're joined by a scene-stealing Norman Reedus as Snipes' stoner sidekick and Ron Perlman as an arrogant vampire who battles with Snipes for alpha-vampire status. Blade II's dialogue tends toward the arbitrary, but it's spiked with occasional bursts of wit. The combative relationship between Perlman and Snipes likewise gives the film a much-needed injection of droll humor, while Kristofferson and Reedus make striking impressions with minimal screen time. The film's plot functions as little more than a loose framework for impressive setpieces and energetically choreographed martial-arts sequences, but director Guillermo del Toro (The Devil's Backbone, Mimic) keeps things moving so quickly and looking so good that it barely matters. The world can always use another entertainingly trashy B-movie, and Blade II fits the bill.