With its Japanese setting, its tragic vampire and its incessant fighting scenes, “Blood: The Last Vampire” is manga-mongering at an especially incoherent level.
I could provide a clear explanation of the plot only by reading background material on it, and even then I’d have a hard time piecing it together with the film I watched. “Blood” is set in 1970, where an age-old half-vampire is residing in the person of a 16-year-old Japanese schoolgirl.
She is played by Korean actress Gianna Jun, who really gets put through the wringer.
Her character, Saya, is employed by a shadowy agency devoted to slaying demons, although Saya herself is still dependent on frequent helpings of blood.
Apparently, the difference between Saya and her quarry is that she happens to be working for us. Well, that’s comforting.
There are many, many killings. Saya has an apparently indestructible sword and unparalleled fighting skills, which leaves her swordfights somewhat lacking in suspense.
She makes a friend, of sorts, a girl (Allison Miller) who needs a little protection. Well, a lot of protection: Opportunities for blood-letting are frequent.
“Blood” is based on an animated film from 2000, which told its story in a mercifully brief 48 minutes. Here, director Chris Nahon, who did the Jet Li vehicle “Kiss of the Dragon,” must pad things out with plenty of slow motion and weird computer-generated geysers of blood.
The fight scenes are staged by veteran martial-arts choreographer Corey Yuen, but this won’t be one of the strongest entries in his portfolio.
The problem is not just that Nahon goes the slice-and-dice method of editing things together. It’s that sorting out the heroes, villains and motivations requires far too much work, and results in almost no payoff.
Even the English-language dialogue gets in the way — maybe “Blood” should’ve been in Japanese. When a superhero triumphs with the sword but struggles with the words, it takes something away from the overall dazzle.