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Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

(return to disc)

Content rating: 7
Posted 2003-05-26 by StupendousMan
Endorsed by Cacophanus on 2003-05-27 01:40:00

I'd read that Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust was pure style, a movie full of flash but low on content. Well, I disagree. It's not The Brothers Karamazov, but there's enough in the story and the characters to keep my interest. And, of course, it is very easy on the eyes :-)

For those not in the know, the eponymous D is a half-breed of vampires and humans. He wanders the land of a post-apocalyptic world, destroying his vampire kin, yet always feared and misunderstood by the humans he aids. It reminds me in many ways of the old Sergio Leone westerns, in which Clint Eastwood made The Man With No Name into an icon. It is no coincidence that the makers of "VHD: Bloodlust" have chosen a voice actor who has the same raspy whisper as Clint.

Which brings up one of the unusual features of this movie: the only audio track is English. I watched carefully at the beginning, and saw that the characters mouths really do follow the English dialogue pretty well. For the most part, it works nicely. There are a few places where it seems that the script forces the characters to speak with a rhythm no native English speaker would choose, but fortunately, they don't appear at the peak moments.

Neither the music nor the sound effects made much of an effect on me. I had a hard time getting the box out of its sleeve, too, which knocks down the "Packaging Rating" (maybe it had something to do with the Samuel Adams Double Bock I was drinking at the time). The bottom line is that the movie has to stand on two legs: its art and its story.

And, thank goodness, it can. The art is terrific. I liked the character designs of D and Leila especially. The backgrounds are simply sumptuous -- or should that be "scrumptious?" Almost everyone in the show is pretty, including the guys. If you ever find a book with "The Art of Vampire Hunter D," buy it!

Now, the story -- that's not so clearly a slam-dunk. There are several common themes running through the movie:

  • the eternal outsider, doomed never to find a home
  • star-crossed lovers
  • a band of rough-but-honest adventurers with special abilities

It's pretty clear after the first twenty minutes or so where it is all going, so there's not much suspense. We know that there's going to be a showdown at the end, and we know that D, for example, is going to stay alive until he gets there. But every now and then, the writers throw us a curve which I, at least, wasn't expecting. The friendship between Leila and D grows slowly and gradually. I appreciated the way that they were given a chance to talk to each other; yes, that's right, just talk. Unlike most Hollywood action films, the male and female leads are able to sit at a modest distance from each other and exchange thoughts and ideas. Sure, they aren't all that profound, but it's a heck of a lot better than having them fall into each other's arms within five minutes. And underlying the entire show is the simple question: if you woke up and found yourself a vampire in a world of humans, what would you do? Yes, it's hard to see how the two species could ever co-exist, but, if you're willing to bend over backwards, you may admit that life as one of the undead is probably not such a great deal after all.

I wasn't bothered by the, um, machina ad deus at the end as some reviewers. The opening shot prepares the viewer for it, so what's the big deal?

I really liked the final scene, too. It brought home in a subtle but effective way just how lonely D's life must be. Like he said to Leila during the rainstorm, at least she has a chance at a normal life.

Equipment used when writing this review:

Sony DVD player, JVC 27-inch TV, stereo speakers, two bad and one good servings of fermented barley mash.

Content: 7 Video: 9 Sound: 6 Packaging: 6 Menu: 7

Buy this disc from AnimeNation
Other reviews of this disc:
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust by BrikHaus (Rating: 8.60)
After an absence of nearly 15 years, the vampire hunter known as D, returns. This time around he sports improved animation aided by computers, an eerie 5.1 soundtrack, and English as the original language!? Despite all of these...(continues)
Content: 7 Video: 10 Sound: 9 Packaging: 9 Menu: 8

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust by Nephylum (Rating: 9.00)
Another wonderful pick I have had recently. The reason I purchased Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust was not because of what my friends say about it (actually quite a few of my friends dislike the original), or because of what I've read on...(continues)
Content: 10 Video: 10 Sound: 9 Packaging: 9 Menu: 7

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