29 December 2018

Amidst all this I watched BLADE!

There's been a big flurry of year-end posts about the Top Films of the year, the Top Movie Moments, music videos, political scandals, whatever. One big thing everyone seemed to miss out on was the simple fact that Blade (1998), on its twentieth anniversary year, came on Netflix Streaming.

Daywalker!

Now, listen, I've seen Blade dozens upon dozens of times. Probably a hundred times. However, watching it again against all this other craziness, I felt compelled to ramble about it for a little bit. This is a fantastic movie, but I was more stricken by the fact that it exists at all.

Blade was like, a precursor to the modern superhero movie. It's easy to forget that this is a Marvel property for some reason. It's completely bizarre. For those of you out of the loop, Blade's mother was bitten by a vampire while pregnant with Baby Blade. Obviously, he then becomes a Daywalker, who is just a vampire who won't get roasted by sunlight. This does not prevent him from wearing sunglasses at all hours of every day.

It stars Wesley Snipes who totally just IS Blade. If this series is ever rebooted or brought into the MCU, Wesley Snipes needs to play Blade again. He's got a sword, UV guns, serum. He's got it all. Apparently he's even credited with such lines as "Some motherfuckers are always trying to iceskate uphill" which adds to this movie's insane charm. And needless to say, the MCU needs Wesley Snipes hanging out in the corner, hunting vampires, fighting Thanos. He won't turn to ash. That's his thing.

This film just has so much nothing to do with how the rest of these superhero movies turned out. It's hard-R and full of black people. There are so many damn black people in this movie. A black protagonist AND love interest? And they're both competent people whose success isn't based on their skin color!? It's insane. It's staggering to watch black people with human agency on screen. Blade's mother is also black and she SPOILER ain't so dead. It's amazing to watch.

I was also amazed how much this film feels like a Matrix (1999) rip-off except for the fact that it came out a whole year before! Blade is the precursor to not only superhero movies but all early 2000s RADICAL / TOO COOL action movies with leather, sunglasses, wire-fighting and gun kata. It's so insanely Matrix-esque, to the point where it genuinely feels like a knockoff.

Thus we have this intersection of horror, action, superhero, and blaxploitation in a film that was actually wildly successful and spawned two other sequels - the first of which was one of Guillermo del Toro's first mainstream successes, and the third of which led to so many insane stories about how crazy Wesley Snipes is that I'm forever grateful.

In addition to all this it's a decent movie. One scene leads to another, Blade has a nice character arc as he gets over his mother's death, and becomes a little less cynical. It is also one of those great movies where the heroes have a "home base" like a little lab where they hang out and do stuff. This is of course led by Kris Kristofferson, who I guess made music at some point and was not just "Old Dude from Blade." Kris Kristofferson is definitely dead and there's no way he comes back in Blade II (2002). It was a bit of a cultural phenomenon, I use the phrase "Daywalker" constantly.

To sum up this late December note, Blade is awesome, you should watch it again. It's far more prescient than you remember and a total forerunner to every action movie we've gotten in the past twenty years. Here's to Wesley Snipes in Avengers: Endgame (2019)!

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