Review 56: Bloodrayne (1/5) (re-upload due to frustration following a WordPress glitch)

Bloodrayne

Directed by Uwe Boll

Starring Kristanna Loken, Michael Madsen, Matt Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Will Sanderson, Ben Kingsley

Released on October 23, 2005

Running time 1h 35m

Rated R

Genre: Fantasy, Action, Horror

Uwe Boll. The German Ed Wood. Shameless film adaptor of famous video games. We finally meet. This is one of the three films that I consider to be part of Boll’s “Unholy Trilogy”: House of the Dead, Bloodrayne, and Alone in the Dark. These movies have been serious commercial and critical failures, but Boll has continued to by hook or by crook profit from his flops. The reason for this is that Germany had some laws to support the arts, and will compensate Boll’s and other production companies’ losses roughly up to fifty percent of what they invested into the film. So if the movie fails, Boll still turns a profit. However, these laws, as of a few years ago, have changed, causing Boll to have to resort to Kickstarter to fund his next intended film, Postal 2. Unfortunately, Boll only was able to raise about $29,000 from about 378 people. Insert The Price is Right loser horns here. But this hasn’t stopped Boll from continuing to make movies to this day, with the latest being Rampage: Capital Punishment, sequel to the only positively reviewed Boll film ever: Rampage.

But this review is about Bloodrayne. And no, I have not played the two video games that the movie is based off of. But a friend of mine, who has played the games, told me that she thought that they were unimpressive (many thanks for the unintentional help, Kayleigh). The first game is a third person hack-and-slash taking place just before World War II, telling the story of a half-human-half-vampire, or dhampir, named Rayne. She takes down a Nazi cabal trying to bring Adolf Hitler into power through occult objects, which are body parts of a demon or vampire named Beliar. The second game, despite taking place in the present day, again involves Rayne trying to stop a group of Nazis, this time led by Rayne’s evil father, Kagan, from trying to start an era of vampire hegemony.

The movie starts with the opening credits being overlaid over paintings of vampiric actions. We see that some of the movie’s stars, Kristanna Loken, Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez, Ben Kingsley, Billy Zane, Udo Kier, and even Meat Loaf, should seriously consider firing their agents. Emphasis on Loken, Madsen, Kingsley, and Zane.

I then noticed that the first person listed as being in charge of the visual effects was Olaf Ittenbach. Olaf was the schmuck who directed, wrote, and starred in the infamous Premutos: Der Gefallene Engel, a low-budget, direct-to-DVD German “splatter” movie. This really shows whenever violence happens throughout the movie, as the gore is incredibly cheap and looks rather trashy. “Doktor” Ittenbach still continues to make this type of movie to this day. If you want to know why I have a problem with this, just go to the YouTube channel Horrible Reviews, and find his review of Premutos.

And then I saw that Henning Lohner was the man who wrote Bloodrayne’s surprisingly decent soundtrack. Well done, Herr Lohner. You composed a soundtrack much better than this movie deserves.

Throughout most of the rest of the credits, we see a sepia-filtered shot of a mountain range.

The credits finally finish out in a city as three of our protagonists ride on horseback into a city. These three characters are Vladimir (Madsen), Sebastian (Davis), and Katarin (Rodriguez). Two questions: 1) what is a Hispanic woman doing in what I presume to be late medieval Europe? And with a very poor British accent, no less? 2) why is Madsen wearing an obviously fake wig?

I couldn’t help but notice that the Uwe Boll directorial credit is barely noticeable.

Despite both games taking place in the 20th and 21st centuries, the movie is, for some reason, set in 18th century Romania. And I actually had to research this; the movie doesn’t tell us. Strange – as I just said, the movie looks like it’s set in the early Renaissance.

The trio stops at a pub to meet some sort of informant, who tells them about a female, redhead vampire at a freak show. Throughout the exchange between Vladimir and the informant, Madsen is not only not trying to hide the fact that he is American, but the fact that he sounds bored and drunk. I assume he’d have to be straight-up plastered to get through this. Davis also makes no attempt to hide his being American. While Vladimir and the informant talk, Sebastian sees someone stand next to him, notices that he has no reflection in the mirror, realizes that the man is a vampire, and promptly kills the man, who viciously decomposes in front of a crowd of pub-goers that have no reaction whatsoever. Odd. It is then revealed that Vladimir, Sebastian, and Katarin are part of an organization known as Brimstone (BS for short {ho, ho}), which I think is some sort of vampire-hunting organization / rebellion against the rising armies of vampires, but the movie doesn’t enlighten us very well. Anyway, we then learn that nobody gives a crap if a vampire shows up to a pub and is killed, but everyone wants to flock to see one at a freak show.

By the way, you’ll notice very quickly that very few contractions are used in this dialogue in an attempt to make it sound archaic. If they wanted to actually make this gimmick work, they could have at least made the dialogue sound more antiquated by making sure that all of our actors were some sort of European. By casting Americans as your main characters, it makes you sound like you’re afraid of the little dot of ink known as the apostrophe.

We then meet Rayne (Loken), a half-human-half-vampire known as a dhampir (though for some reason it is pronounced dam-fear or damp-fear). Her sensitivity to water and unnatural attraction to blood is exploited in front of a crowd as her left arm is plunged into a barrel of water, frying it, her right arm is cut several times with a knife, and then (ANIMAL CRUELTY ALERT) a sheep’s neck is slit and Rayne drinks the blood. This causes her wounds to heal. Question: if Rayne is even part vampire, why is she only dragged around by a chain and shackle around her neck? Either Rayne is very submissive, or the freak show authority is incredibly stupid. I would assume that it’s a little of both. Anyway, after Rayne is put back in her cage, one other freak, who I assume is her friend, talks to her and says

AMAZING CANDLE-SLICER: My uncle – he’s a sailor, and he once told me of a place where people play all day, and the trees grow fruits in every color of the rainbow, and the sunsets set the whole sky on fire. Doesn’t it sound wonderful, Rayne?

Wow. That was probably the strangest line I’ve heard in this movie so far. Emphasis on “so far”. I will explain later. The freak I just mentioned gives Rayne her cross necklace to wear. So dhampirs are immune to crosses? And I just noticed: for a movie about religion-based monsters, there is not a single mention of God.

Trees grow fruits in every color of the rainbow? That sounds impossible. Let’s see…red apples, cherries, cranberries, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, and grapes, orange oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and nectarines, yellow lemons, apricots, bananas, and apples, green limes, grapes, and apples, blue…not blueberries, as blueberries are more of indigo than blue, and purple blackberries, plums, and grapes. So that’s not impossible. I stand corrected.

By the way, what is up with Rayne’s costume? I know that that is her costume from the game, but from my perspective, it looks like Uwe Boll has an obvious hardon for Kristanna Loken. It shows off pretty much the entire top halves of her boobs, and cuts off just below the top half of her stomach. And, as we will see later, she is essentially bra-less. That was presumably mistakably historically accurate, as the bra was not invented until 1914.

And then…at Obvious Villain Lair…we meet our villain, Kagan (Kingsley, again with an obvious wig), who is being informed by his lieutenant, Domestir (Sanderson, Uwe Boll regular {you heard right}), that there has been an incident of “blood rage” at a carnival freak show. Wait, so Rayne escaped offscreen? I will explain momentarily. Kagan and Domestir believe that the incident was caused by a dhampir. And not just any dhampir.

KAGAN: So, she is alive, the little one who slipped through my fingers.

Kagan fears that Rayne may pose a threat to his plans. Yes. One lone dhampir versus plenty of vampires and an army of thralls (humans in service of Kagan). One lone dhampir could last maybe a minute against that.

And then we cut to a blood-covered Rayne…in a forest a ways from the carnival. Oh, so she really did escape offscreen. Oh, wait – the movie will just show the escape scene in flashback. While Rayne is asleep in her cage, a drunken carnivalgoer busts in and attempts to have his way with Rayne. She grabs his liquor bottle and breaks it over his head, cutting him and causing blood to drip on her face and in her mouth. She opens her mouth, showing her fangs, and gives the worst yell ever before OM NOM NOM. And then Rayne goes through the freak show and kills several, including the owner and the Amazing Candle-Slicer, who gives Rayne her dual swords. If we actually knew how badly the owner had treated Rayne, we might be satisfied that he died. Rayne escapes and breaks down in the middle of the woods.

We then see Vladimir, Sebastian, and Katarin arrive at the carnival the next morning, and immediately start decapitating the carnival freaks’ corpses. What the – ? After the still-alive Amazing Candle-Slicer reveals to the three that Rayne is not a vampire, but a dhampir, she too is killed.

AMAZING CANDLE-SLICER: She didn’t mean to bite me! She was wearing the crucifix I gave her!

No, that was not a crucifix. A crucifix depicts the crucified body of Jesus Christ. Rayne is wearing a cross, which is a crucifix sans Jesus.

The bodies are thrown into a pile, have what I think is kerosene poured on them, and set afire. These guys need serious mental help. Katarin leaves for some odd reason, and then Vlad and Seb leave a little later.

At another castle shot through a sepia filter, we meet Elric (Zane), Katarin’s father, a supporter of Kagan disguised as a supporter of BS disguised as a supporter of Kagan. I know. It’s confusing and inconsistent throughout the two scenes that Elric is in. Elric is dictating a letter to Katarin, and after he finishes, he turns his head to reveal the vampire bite on his neck. OOOH! Also, Elric is also wearing an obvious wig.

Rayne saves a family from a vampire attack and gets a ride to the next village. She encounters a female vampire seducing a human male, and beckons her over. The vampire takes the bait, and goes over and starts to make the move to make out with her. Lesbian tease? Yes, but purely a tease, as when the lips of the two vampire vixens are just about to touch, Rayne leans over and sinks her teeth into the vampire’s neck. Somehow, this kills the vampire chick. Odd; the only ways to kill a vampire are 1) the method used to kill Dracula: the cliché stake to the heart. 2) Being exposed to sunlight. 3) Immersion in holy water.

Oh, wait. I forgot. As I mentioned in my Wolves review, this is still the Stephanie Meyer age of bastardization of supernatural creature folklore. You can make up any crap you want, and somehow, it will be kosher.

Rayne is straightaway telepathically contacted by some fortune teller, who tells her that Kagan is her father and that he raped and killed her mother.

FORTUNE TELLER: Dhampirs are rarely the product of a happy union between a vampire and a human.

RAYNE: You lie.

Wait, so the union between Kagan and Rayne’s mother was a happy union? What counts as an unhappy union? Damning her mother’s soul to hell? The fortune teller tells her to find some “eye” talisman artifact at some monastery, and Rayne leaves, stealing a horse and cloak, and riding to the monastery.

And now, a brief scene involving Domestir and Kagan saying that Rayne is after the eye. Domestir is ordered to

KAGAN: Kill her. Let her find the eye or let her try, then kill her.

Make up your mind, man.

Domestir leaves with an army of thralls for the monastery. Just asking, but what makes Domestir so powerful? He’s just a man, not a vampire. He’s a man, not a god! Angry Joe reference.

Rayne arrives and is allowed entrance by the monks, who, like the good men of God they are and deserve to be represented as, provide Rayne with food and a makeshift bed. While the monks think she is asleep, Rayne gets up, and sneaks off to a secret room, where she comes across the bastard child of Andre the Giant, Fester Addams, and Sloth from The Goonies. Hey you guys! Rayne kills the thing with its own spiked club, takes the cross from around its neck, and uses it as the key to the next room, where she is faced with gasp! CGI saws! Aaaaaaah! Rayne gets past the saws somehow (the way she does it is incredibly stupid) and takes the eye. The room starts to fill up with water, but Rayne looks into the eye, absorbing it and making it part of herself, and somehow making her immune to water. Okay, what would the water trap accomplish if the person taking the eye wasn’t a vampire? Oh, and Rayne, as of absorbing the eye, now has heterochromia; one eye is blue, one is sea green. Neat.

The main monastery priest (Udo Kier) finds Rayne and informs her that the eye is just one of three artifacts that are body parts of a long-dead vampire named Beliar (this is a missed opportunity to name him after the demon Belial). They are an eye, a rib, and a heart. These three artifacts, if absorbed by a vampire, would eliminate this vampire’s weaknesses: water, sunlight, and crosses. Okay, first off, if this vampire was so powerful, how was he ever killed? It’s not like he was Jared Nomak from Blade II, who had a bone shield around his heart. Second, if they wanted to keep these powers out of the hands of vampirekind, why was Beliar’s – screw it, Belial’s – body not entirely destroyed immediately after his death? Just use the same strategy as Twilight; cut him up and burn the pieces until there’s nothing left! If you’re dealing with the most dangerous vampire who ever lived, there is no such thing as overkill! This Belial crap is one heck of a plothole. But then trouble arises when Dom and his thralls attack the monastery, and what results is somehow the bloodiest but somehow not actually gory fight scene. This fight scene is awesome. Not because it’s good, but because it’s so stupidly put together. All sorts of dismemberment happens, but everyone, and I mean everyone, looks bored out of their minds. Look at this one bit in which a monk is sliced in half. His top half falls off while the legs stay standing! Ow, I guess. They’re all like, “Just finish the scene and give me my check so I can go home.” Anyway, the monks put up a pretty good fight, but, at the end of the day, are no match for the bigger number of thralls. Vlad and Seb show up out of nowhere, and even Kat joins in the fun with probably the biggest show of archery skill since Legolas. I mean, wow. Dom corners Padre Kier, and demands to know the location of the eye. When Kier remains silent, Domestir runs him through with his sword. Surprisingly, this doesn’t help Dom in finding the eye. He realizes that Rayne must have absorbed it, and returns to the battle, where Rayne seriously needs some swordsmanship lessons. Dom quickly rushes up to Rayne, knocks her out, throws her over the back of his horse, and rides away. Vlad and Seb follow Dom, while Kat leaves for some pointless reason.

In roughly a minute-long scene, Kagan is given what I assume to be an underage virgin for consumption. Don’t vorry, I just vant to suck your blood!

Dom is seen taking refuge during the day at a castle owned by the amazingly hedonistic Leonid (Meat Loaf), who forces Dom out and takes Rayne for himself. By the way, those women in Leonid’s room are actual Romanian prostitutes. Yeah. It must have been cheaper to hire prostitutes rather than actresses. Also, Leo is also obviously wearing a wig. And Meat Loaf’s performance is awesome…because it’s so cheesy and over-the-top. Vlad and Seb show up, trash the place, kill Leo (who lets out a colossus yell as he dies), rescue Rayne, and take her to BS HQ.

Rayne stays in BS’s jail’s Presidential Suite as she volunteers to help BS any way she can. Insert training montage here as Rayne trains to fight alongside BS’s soldiers. “Yoah the best…around / Nothin’s gonna evuh keep ya down…” She then levels up from basic sword to her dual swords.

And then we see an ADHD editing sequence showing Rayne in a forest, swinging her swords around in a somewhat stylistic manner. The editing in this scene is so fast-paced that it’s obvious that the editors are trying to hide the fact that this swordplay looks awful. And this sequence is entirely pointless.

But then, in the next scene, she duels Seb and one of the swords breaks. Aww.

Oh, I forgot to mention the less-than-a-minute-long scene in which Kagan somehow acquires Belial’s rib.

That night, Seb presents Rayne with a set of seamstress-prepared clothing, which we will later see is just as skimpy and skintight as her current set. Sigh.

Insert a less-than-fifteen-second-long shot of Kagan, but, for some reason, sans wig.

And then we get this infamous scene. Rayne exits her cell to see Seb right outside, writing something down. Seb sees her and gets up. Rayne grabs him and pushes him against the bars. They kiss. Rayne rips open Seb’s shirt, exposing his front, pulls down his pants and then her own, and mounts him. Seb rips open Rayne’s top, exposing the entire reason this scene was shot – boobs, and complementary sex. This scene is fully and completely pointless. Worse, the deed is done right up against the prison bars for surprisingly hot (and surprisingly not) sex.

Wait. When exactly have Rayne and Seb shared any chemistry? They’ve only actually shared the screen for about a minute. And now they’re screwing in a jail cell! Wow.

The next morning, Rayne shows up to breakfast with Vlad, Seb, and Kat, and it seems like Rayne has grown popular. Why? How? I don’t know. Anyway, one young boy walks up to Rayne and asks to see her teeth. Rayne, Vlad, Seb, and Kat share a brief laugh, and Rayne turns to the boy, opens her mouth, and lets out a hiss, showing her teeth and giving the boy a somewhat funny scare. This sequence was, admittedly, rather endearing, and was one of few actually charming moments in a movie that is severely lacking in the Charming Moments Department.

Insert scene in which Kagan orders his thralls to attack BS HQ, in which he recites his orders like he’s reading a bullet point list, and being bored to tears while doing it.

Insert pointless scene in which Dom confronts Elric. I counted: within thirty seconds, Billy Zane somehow blinks twenty-one times while saying his lines.

That’s nothing. In the next scene, when Vlad talks to Kat, Michael Madsen inserts fourteen unnecessary pauses into his lines.

Rayne, Vlad, and Seb go to the mainland (I forgot to mention that BS HQ is on an island) to buy food, weapons, and other supplies. They stop at a BS-supporting supply “store”…that gives these supplies to BS for free for some reason, with emphasis on a big amount of black powder. They even give Rayne a new set of dual plastic, non-sharp swords that, while having bigger blades, look significantly less badass.

Meanwhile, Kat betrays BS on the verge of Kagan’s army’s attack, and she and a few guards go down below BS HQ to where Belial’s heart is supposedly hidden.

The actual attack on BS HQ occurs offscreen, which was a missed opportunity. All we get is one dying soldier making it to the mainland and telling Rayne of the attack and Kat’s betrayal before he dies. Rayne and Seb confront each other before Rayne leaves on her own to find Belial’s heart.

Rayne goes to BS HQ, slips past Kagan’s thralls and down into the bowels of the castle. She sees Kat swimming into the underground pool where Belial’s heart is stored. Rayne jumps into the pool and catches up with Kat. Kat tries to fight Rayne off with…a kitchen knife, but is killed by Rayne. Rayne makes off with the heart and, for some reason, heads right to Kagan’s castle and turns herself in.

Okay, what was her plan? Step one: Get captured. Step two: …who cares? The movie’s nearly over, anyway.

Vlad and Seb see Rayne get captured, and decide to do the same for some reason. Rayne, Vlad, and Seb are imprisoned, and we learn that Rayne is to go through some sort of “ceremony” to extract the eye from her. This ceremony will almost certainly kill her. After Rayne is taken upstairs, Seb climbs to the top of the cell and Vlad pulls the “Guard, sick man” routine. And now we come to the strangest lines in the movie. Not because they’re poorly written, but because I simply cannot tell if Madsen is intentionally acting bad or not, because, either way, the delivery of these lines is something that has to be seen to be believed.

VLADIMIR: Thrall! (THRALL looks up.) My companion is gone. I don’t know what’s become of him.

Wait, that thrall isn’t going to fall for that, is he? He’s not…he’s really not…oh, Great God in Heaven, he’s going for it! … See? That’s why you never give in to the “Guard, sick man” routine! You just got yourself kicked in the face and knocked out.

The ceremony is going fine until Vlad and Seb bust in. Kagan, having not thought to check the box that the heart was in before the ceremony, discovers that he’s been schooled – Rayne has already absorbed the heart. Idiot. Seb frees Rayne, and the three fight Kagan and his minions. Dom and Seb take each other out, Vlad has the same bored expression on his face as he is killed by Kagan (you’re being run through with a nice-looking foil! Don’t you care?), and all of Kagan’s minions are killed. So it’s conveniently Rayne versus Kagan for the final…pseudo-fight. Most of the time, they circle each other with their swords locked while spitting out non sequiturs.

Gee. I wonder who’s going to win? A twenty-five year old vampire with two artifacts on her, or a sixty year old vampire with one artifact on him?

The camerawork in this fight is the same ADHD crap we saw earlier. It’s obviously trying to hide the fact that the swordplay is awful. And then Kagan drops this line.

KAGAN: Ungrateful b!tch.

Uh…ungrateful for what?

The fight ends when a still-alive Seb throws a container of holy water at Kagan. Kagan catches it, but Seb shatters it with a crossbow bolt, spattering Kagan with holy water, burning him. Despite his burns, Kagan, who has subdued Rayne, tries to cut out her heart to get to the heart of Belial. Seb shoots another crossbow bolt at him, but Kagan catches it (Legolas, Katniss, Hawkeye, and Robin Hood call BS.). Rayne summons her strength and plunges the bolt into Kagan’s heart, killing him.

Rayne runs over to Seb, who is dying.

RAYNE: Please. You don’t have to leave me.

Please don’t go! We had so much together! Screwing in a jail…

And Seb dies. Rayne seats herself in Kagan’s throne, and flashes back to all the times that blood has been spilt over the course of the movie. This sequence really highlights how many people had hoses filled with stage blood in them. And guess how long this flashback goes. Four minutes, folks, four minutes! This is ridiculous when compared to how little romantic chemistry there was between Seb and Rayne. Oh, and during this flashback, we see a scene that the editor forgot to insert into the movie or remove from the flashback. This scene shows Seb bringing a goblet of blood to Rayne to drink and – eww! It’s drizzling on her boob!

Rayne rides on horseback into the mountains, where the movie essentially just…ends.

This was trash, but I’ll be switched if it wasn’t hilariously enjoyable trash. The story was nigh nonexistent, the characters were cardboard cutouts, the script was a mess, the acting was really bland, and – curse you, Olaf Ittenbach – the blood effects were awful.

It’s really quite sad, as most of these actors have legitimate talent…but they seriously need to fire their agents.

Honestly, I actually liked this film…for how side-splittingly inept it was. This is a great movie for you and your friends to sit down and watch on a Friday night, pop a couple of beers, sit back, and enjoy the movie as so bad it’s good.

“You will laugh. You will cry. But you will mostly laugh.” – Jared Knabenbauer

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for any of Uwe Boll’s other video game adaptations.

Final verdict: 1 out of 5 stars.

I was going to give this a .5/5, but then I realized that some odd, unplaceable part of me actually almost legitimately likes this film for some strange reason. So I raised my rating to a 1/5.

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