BloodRayne (2006)

Rating: **
Review Date: 5/27/06
Director: Uwe Boll
Cast: Kristanna Loken, Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez, Ben Kingsley, Udo Kier, Meatloaf, Billy Zane

A pleasant surprise from notorious director Uwe Boll. After his last two video game abominations ("House Of The Dead" (2003) and "Alone In The Dark" (2005) ), "BloodRayne" is a vast improvement and comes off as solidly mediocre. If anything, it reminded me of the Canon Films, Dino De Laurentis, and Golan-Globus productions of the 80's in both tone and execution. Unfortunately, the weakest link is the awful script which has little, if anything, to do with the video game on which the film is based.

The first curiosity is the setting. For better or worse, "BloodRayne" is a medieval period film. Rayne (a confused looking Kristanna Loken) is a damphir (human/vampire hybrid) who is caged as a sideshow freak in a travelling carnival. She eventually escapes her tormentors and seeks revenge against a powerful vampire named Kagan (Ben Kingsley) for raping and killing her mother years ago. Lucky for her, Kagan has also been looking for Rayne as she's a bit of a prodigy. And to complicate things even more, Kagan's sworn enemy, the Brimstone Society, is also looking for her. Rayne ultimately hooks up with the Brimstone Society, falls in love with a human (spelling certain doom for him), and manages to kill everyone she comes into contact with.

While it's not great filmmaking, it's definitely competent and the location shots in Romania are breathtakingly beautiful. The sets, costumes, and effects are quite good, with the exception of a few laughably bad CGI and gore effects, and some of the worst wigs ever caught on film. Everyone's hair in the movie is just hideous. While the writing is pretty bad, the acting certainly doesn't help any. Kristanna Loken delivers a flat and lifeless performance, while Michael Madsen looks like he's going to fall over drunk and Michelle Rodriguez's faux European accent makes you cringe. Billy Zane and Meatloaf have completely embarrassing cameos, matched only by their completely embarrassing wigs. Surprisingly, the usually quite attractive Kristanna Loken isn't much of a looker in film, due to shockingly neutral makeup that makes her face look completely featureless. Weird. While often cheezy, the gore effects feature some of the nicest exploding blood geysers this side of Asian cinema, which is a nice treat. Unfortunately, the action scenes betray the production values of the film, and are poorly executed and edited even worse. With the sole exception of Michelle Rodriguez, none of the actors look comfortable or confident with their weapons, which results in some clumsy and poorly cut fighting. And Michael Madsen doesn't even look like he's capable of swinging a sword without falling over. While I enjoyed the film, it's not without its share of baffling and ill-conceived points. Of particular note, Rayne's gratuitous sex scene is tasteless and unnecessary and the montage at the end that retells the entire movie is bizarre, annoying, and out of place. With this film, Uwe Boll has raised the bar and manages to redeem himself as an object of ridicule, an admirable feat that other genre directors often fail to achieve.