Director: Sebastian Gutierrez

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Rise The original title Rise (2007) was so nondescript it could've been about anything from apartment life in a high rise to the adventures of a bread baker. So on video it got retitled Rise: Blood Hunter which is trashy enough to match the film.

Lucy Liu is the female Wesley Snipes in this lowbrow, low budget imitation of Snipes' Blade trilogy, though her name is Blake instead of Blade, so that's original.

I actually entered this film with high hopes because we were promised Lucy Liu's bod, & for acting creds, Robert Forster. Too bad Forester was in it for only a second. If he ever had a real role in the film it must've ended up on the cutting room floor.

It starts out as a softcore stupid-fantasy of lipstick-dyke Sadie Blake picking up a hooker (standard-issue ultragorgeous no-personality blonde) for lezzy action. This turns out to be a trap, with bloodletting all around.

Since not a half-second was believable, it was just too weak a beginning. The sequence ends with death for an aging vampire at Lucy's heroic hand, & her lecture to the hooker: "Find yourself a real job," judgemental bitch.

The editing is amateurish. The time line is screwed up & the editor could never make much of it clear. In a typically clumsy flashback we learn how our vampire-slaying vampire was originally a reporter who did a story on goth fandom & accidentally stumbled onto the Real Deal, has gross-out experience, gets vampire-bitten & killed, returns with a chip on her shoulder against vampires for mucking up her easy life.

Unlike Blade, however, Sadie has very few powers, & we're not given any real reason to believe she has the skills of an assassin.

Academy Award character actor Mako appears in the story as a butler who assists vampires, & he held my attention because of his past work. This was to be his last film role & too damned bad it couldn't've been a better farewell to those of us who always loved him.

There's always potential for a Renfield-inspired character, but Mako as the butler comes off as a generic bad guy rather than a Renfield. He mostly just stands around looking mean, while some dull young actors get all the campy-evil scenery chewing detail, delivered with pomposity & no panache. When he finally gets his action moment, it gives Mako no real opportunity to spice up this turkey.

RiseThe story boils down to a "do bad things to girls" story, never rising above a misogynist masturbation fantasy. It's not scary; it's not disturbing; it's just dull, unless, of course, you're a virgin at viewing gore films.

I can like down-market crap a lot, so I held out hope it'd get interesting in the second third of the film after she's transformed.

Sadie's mindless "sex & murder" escapades leave enough evidence at every one of her blood-drenched crime scenes that probably even the Hardy Boys could've followed her bloody footprints back to her home, but the police aren't capable.

So we're asked to believe it takes a specialist to track her down. Enter Michael Chiklis as Clyde, a drunk, but he knows something about "this stuff." He upstages Lucy Liu entirely, but he can't save the film.

His daughter was killed by a vampire, which started his vengeful decline. In one of the predictable devices that serve as plot twists, he'll eventually discover his daughter wasn't exactly killed, as his vampire hunting brings him slowly to the decision to assist rather than take down Sadie.

Vampires Bishop (James D'Arcy) & Eve (Carla Gugino) brought Sadie over to the dark side, so she hates them most, & the big pay-off scenes are supposed to be her ultimate battles with them. But first she gets some minimal instruction from helpful Arturo (Julio Oscar Mechoso). He makes her a cutesie little crossbow that shoots silver bolts, & that's all it takes to adjust to her new condition. She sets out to kill vampires.

With only the unimpressive tiny crossbow, & no actual vampire powers, if Sadie gets her foot stabbed, she has to limp to the drugstore for a dressing. A vampiric vampire slayer without powers to speak of could've been a good variant on a theme, but not without good fight choreography at least, & some rudimentary background story to explain why Sadie would even believe she can fight. Well, she's Chinese, all Chinese know kung fu from birth.

With a budget that didn't permit recreating much in the way of vampire abilities other than lack of mirror reflection (glass door reflection she accidently still has), & didn't permit skilled fight choreography either, the most we get are sleuces of cherry syrup to convey the special qualities of the supernatural status of Sadie & her selected victims.

This kind of crap doesn't have to be so ineffective but script, choreography, staging, editing, all sabotages Lucy Liu. She delivers everything she's supposed to, & she's not the reason it fails. Chiklis is of course the better actor & as his role enlarges toward the end, he almost displaces Liu as the hero.

I can squeeze entertainment out of a pretty dry sponge but when this one ran its course, I could almost question why I bother to quest with such high hopes through all the awful crap that comes my way. I could almost give up.

Continue to next vampire film:
Lifeforce (1993)

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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