- The Washington Times - Friday, March 22, 2002

Blade, the vampire-eradicating albeit part-vampire superhero of the daringly titled "Blade II," Wesley Snipes appears to make his first mistake by liberating Kris Kristofferson from suspended immersion in a huge jar.
Granted, Mr. Kristofferson is supposed to be the hero's grizzled, cantankerous old mentor, Whistler, but the partnership scarcely rivals something of the duration and emotional resonance of, say, Roy Rogers with George "Gabby" Hayes. People haven't even started calling Mr. Kristofferson "Gabby" yet, despite the promising facial resemblance.
Whistler despite Blade's soft spot for him seems to be kind of a bad luck charm whenever predatory vampires gather. They gather in droves, mostly as fiends to the slaughter, in this sequel to the 1998 horror spectacle that seemed to arrest Mr. Snipes' career as a versatile performer.
Just to show how these franchise hits can be your worst enemy, Mr. Snipes was a good deal more entertaining as the supervillain who tormented Sylvester Stallone in "Demolition Man" a few years ago.
Unless I've missed a few sleepers, Mr. Snipes hasn't been keeping in training as a humorous asset, as he once did in such pictures as "White Men Can't Jump," "Wong Foo" and "Waiting to Exhale." It's depressing to think that he may have found professional contentment pretending to slash and incinerate computer-generated multitudes of vampire foes.
The sheer volume poses some problems. It becomes surreal and boring to witness a wretched excess of artificial carnage.
The movie has violent spectacle bursting from its seams, but every sequence remains a pictorial and emotional blur. The "Blade" thrillers also depend on a dank nocturnal environment, favoring such atmospheric settings as dark alleys, sewers, dungeons and disco torture chambers, so squinting is rampant in the audience.
Crybaby bloodsuckers constantly call attention to the perils they face with sunrise, but how can sunlight threaten them when the film is drowning in murky downpours?
The sequel complicates the hero's ambivalence about his mixed heritage by forging an alliance of convenience with his sworn enemies. A mutant fiend named Nomak (Luke Goss) is at large, infecting a new strain of victims who threaten not only humans, but also vampires.
So Blade goes on the hunt with a vampire princess named Nyssa (Leonor Varela) and several would-be imposing confederates, notably Ron Perlman as a sneering hulk named Reinhardt and martial-arts specialist Donnie Yen as a boyish samurai.
Despite his fighting prowess, Blade is oblivious to treachery within his own circle, a pretty narrow circle of three.
The combat is so pervasive and dependent on special effects that nothing of consequence is at stake in any given battle or isolated duel.
When Blade finally confronts the ferocious Nomak, a head butt seems to disable the monster decisively after several hours of strenuous sword-wielding, which includes the little detail of Blade's weapon being buried to the hilt in Nomak's torso. Sometimes it's the little things, I guess.


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