In 1998 vampires got a makeover. No longer were they the charming lords of the night (see Bela Lugosi in Dracula) or prissy lovers of blood (see Interview with a Vampire). They came busting out of the gates as bad ass killers with the stealth and skill of the worlds best assassins. You might think I am referring to Blade, but actually there was a much, much lesser known film (for good reason) to come out that year that portrayed vampires in modern day society: Razor Blade Smile. Where as with Blade we follow him around in his quest against blood suckers, this film flips the coin and follows a woman who is more than ok with her vampire status and uses it to her advantage.
Lilith Silver (Eileen Daly) has been a vampire for hundreds of years (we learn this immediately by seeing how she became a vampire in a long boring black and white flashback that obviously occurred years ago). We now meet her modern day as she narrates everyday life and gives her commentary on what it is like to be a vampire. Lilith isn’t content with just sucking blood, you might as well make a living while doing it. So she becomes an assassin for hire controlled by her love interest whom she calls Platinum (Kevin Howarth). So Lilith goes about killing people she is told but they all are linked by a ring that they wear featuring and eye on it. Turns out this ring is worn by members of a secret club (think free masons) that have their hands in pretty much everything. Lo and behold this group is headed up by the very man (Sethane Blank played by Christopher Adamson) that turned Lilith into a vampire and who killed her then boyfriend. Thing is nobody in this secret cult knows that Sethane is a vampire either. So Sethane finds out that members are being bumped off in his group and he sends group member police Lt. Raymond Price (Jonathan Coote) to find out who this “Angel of Death” (as the police dub her) is and to stop them. There are many twists and turns and even more plot than this but trying to explain it all could take longer than just watching the movie.
I really wanted to like this movie. I had heard of it for years about how it was a mix of horror and Hong Kong cinema. Unfortunately it seems to miss on both accounts. The story actually tries to do too much. Part of what makes so many Hong Kong movies good is that the plot is very simple and based on simple principles. Characters come in and out of this movie throughout and only a few have any purpose. There is actually very little action and the gun play that I thought the movie would contain was only at the very end and really just downright boring. And there is nothing scary about this film. Yes there are vampires but they sure aren’t scary and there is almost no gore.
The idea for the story had promise. It was an interesting idea but the movie is just flat all around. Inane dialogue is in abundance. The whole film has a pretty serious tone yet little one-liners (”I am going on a stake out”) are thrown in often. The take on vampire lore was interesting enough. Sunlight only bothers their eyes so sunglasses are a must and religious artifacts are of little use. And the only way to kill these vampires is to behead them or to hurt them so badly that they lose too much blood.
The only character really worth talking about is Lilith. Again much like Blade she is a wise-cracking killer who can throw down with the best of them. Unfortunately her character has some really annoying traits as well. She feels the need to rate her victim’s blood on an A to F scale like school. And you would swear that Eileen Daly was paid more for each time she hissed at something. There is more hissing by vampires in this film than you can shake a stake at. But I must admit Eileen Daly plays the part decently. It was doomed no matter who was in the movie, but she is sexy and stylish. In fact she plays the part so sensually that you would think you are watching a soft core porn flick.
While Eileen scintillates, the rest of the cast “sucks.” Everyone else is extremely flat and Christopher Adamson is about as intimidating as my big toe. Even genre favorite David Warbeck looks bored and his time on screen is very short. If we are supposed to care about Jonathan Coote as Lt. Price then oops I forgot. He isn’t remotely sympathetic and you don’t care if he lives or dies. Probably the worst fleshed out character is Platinum. Kevin Howarth doesn’t really fit the bill as the now retired killer. And late in the movie for someone who was supposed to be a once great assassin he acts as if he has never handled a gun in his life.
But I think it is unfair to beat on the actors in this film. The blame should fall squarely on the writer and director’s shoulders. Jake West directs this film thinking style makes a good movie. While style can add to a film, you do need a good story first (see Natural Born Killers). There are some great shots and sequences but they have nothing at all to do with the story. They are more like transitions between scenes. Probably the most impressive thing is the opening credits. Interesting images abound as it goes almost from Blood to James Bond. It is too bad he couldn’t apply this to the whole movie. None of the style permeates the narration as most scenes feature a motionless camera just showing the action. West looks like he should be doing car commercials or videos for MTV.
I will say one thing positive about this film. The ending is an effective twist. I didn’t see it coming at all but at that point I have to say I didn’t really care all that much. So all in all, although Eileen Daly is damn sexy, grab some garlic and avoid this vampire flick. 2 out of 10.