The Scoop: 2007 R, directed by Sebastian Gutierrez and starring Lucy Liu, Robert Forster, and Cameron Richardson
Tagline: Unrated Undead
Summary Capsule: Fangless vampire Lucy Liu attempts to overcome bloodthirst, other vampires and poorly-executed nonlinear storytelling.
Shalen’s Rating: (shoots self with crossbow) (TWANG)
Shalen’s Review: I’m sure all of you are aware that vampires are a fairly popular critter right now. They probably always will be with a certain select group, these being folk like myself who wish we were pale and thin and fangy rather than just pale. This can result in some good cinema, some fun popcorn movies, and also a good number of me-too absolute stinkers. Rise belongs in that latter category.
I’ve always been one to do some mocking of the tropes of contemporary vampire mythos – the fact that most vamps seem to be of European ancestry, the obsession with velvet clothing, the difference between canine distance and how far apart the neck punctures are. You’d think we’d get tired of looking at anemic white boys with fangs after a while. And when that happens, we can always fall back on a more robust interpretation like the Blade movies. And then there’s this. I bought this DVD sight unseen because I thought Lucy Liu as a vampire was a neat idea, given her physical skillset, and even if it wasn’t, a straight-to-video vampire flick should be good for some cheap laughs.
I know better now, but it’s too late.
The movie is about Sadie Blake, a Korean-American reporter who goes investigating the mysterious deaths of Goths and ends up sucked to death by a couple of overdressed white folks with, I kid you not, a plastic sheet on their bed. The rape/murder scene is profoundly gross and also fairly stupid, given that there’s only so much blood you can extract from a human body before the person dies from lack of oxygen. I’m particularly fond of the part later in the film when one of the killer/rapists tells Sadie the other vamp drank and drank her but “you wouldn’t die.” Perhaps they accidentally stabbed her in the collarbone instead of the jugular vein.
Anyway, Sadie wakes up in a morgue, gets herself a crossbow, and goes a-hunting of the vamps. This is pretty much the movie. There’s some brief involvement by Michael Chiklis, stretching his acting repertoire by playing a tired, driven cop. The rest of it is mostly splashy red corn syrup and naked boobies. There’s dialogue, but it’s so bad that the film gets worse every time someone takes a breath. The moment where Sadie wakes up trapped in a coffin-like box is momentarily claustrophobic, but we’ve already seen it and it was done much better in Kill Bill: Vol. 2.
See, the concept of fangless vampires isn’t necessarily a bad one. I thought it was done very well in Near Dark. But if the movie is going to deny us the tooth cleavage, there had better be some pretty interesting characters to make up for it. There’s none of that here. And, sad to say, there are almost no action scenes, so don’t expect to see any martial arts or acrobatics. There’s some shooting and lots of slicing and stabbing of relatively helpless victims, working the queasy snuff-film sexploitation just a little too hard for the production values. Honestly, except for the lack of reflection in mirrors, there’s nothing in this film that would suggest the vampires are anything but less-clever serial killers. They’re not really strong or fast. They’re not pale. They very obviously have to breathe – I didn’t know vampires had to worry about strangulation, did you? Even with less of a budget, these things can be simulated better than they were here. And Rise has had too much money spent on it for that excuse to work anyway. Maybe they spent it all on the blue filters.
Add to all this the fact that the director obviously thinks he’s being clever with the nonlinear chronology, jumping around between present and different degrees of past with little organization and no warning between cuts, and the whole movie is one big nauseating headache. The first scene in the movie is there for no other reason than for Lucy Liu to kiss another woman, since it’s a fairly useless introduction to her character. Although since the deadpan delivery and wooden movements are there from moment one, I guess this should let us know what to expect.
Except for one line so breathtakingly bad that it had me howling for a good five minutes (see tourniquet quote below), there is nothing here that is worth five bucks, let alone the twenty it currently costs at Wal-mart. Save your money and go to Starbucks a couple of times instead.
- This was Mako’s last live-action film (TMNT was a voice role). Personally I’d rather remember him as Master Splinter, thanks.
- The inability of vampires to be reflected is a stated tenet of the mythos, but Lucy Liu can be seen reflected in surfaces several times through the movie, sometimes very blatantly.
- Pointy necklaces are a lousy substitute for fangs, and by the way, why is it a cross???
- Don’t let the DVD cover fool you. Vampires are nice and pink-cheeked like the rest of us.
- Tough vampire hunters wear jeans, ladies’ tee shirts and short curly hair.
- You know, for somebody trying to quit, it’s interesting that she already had a shovel in her car when she picked up that hitchhiker.
- The traditional wrist-bite without the traditional dentition. Bleah.
- If someone has a punctured jugular, you should put a tourniquet around their neck.
- Vampires don’t see or hear any better than the rest of us, but they have a great sense of smell.
- It’s actually really difficult to kill someone by puncturing their neck and draining all their blood.
- Vampires do not turn to dust when killed.
- A vampire can easily be restrained by Michael Chiklis and a pair of handcuffs.
- Is It Worth Staying Through End Credits? Only if you want to see the very predictable sequel setup at the end.
Sadie Blake: Death is different now.
(Clyde is putting a rag around Sadie’s neck after she has been bled by Bishop)
Sadie: What are you doing?
Clyde: It’s a tourniquet!
Bishop: Why are you doing this? You’re one of us!
Sadie Blake: Not by choice.
Bishop: Choice? What is that, who has a choice in anything?
Sadie: You had a choice in raping me and leaving me for dead!
Sadie: I can tell this conversation is turning you on.
Clyde: (unmemorable query as to how)
Sadie: Overdeveloped sense of smell, actually.
Bishop: Sex and murder are the only real pleasures left to mankind.
If you liked this movie, try these:
- Near Dark
- Werewolf vs. Vampire Woman