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'Blood' Delivers a New Breed of Vampire Slayer

Watching the opening credit card of Blood: The Last Vampire, I couldn’t help but smile. Japan, we are told, has been overtaken by demons in human form, and there is but one warrior alive capable of defeating their leader, the evil Onigen. She is Saya, daughter of the legendary vampire slayer Kiyomasa, and she is humanity’s last best hope for survival.

I enjoy movies like this when they’re made well. Blood, a live-action adaptation of Hiroyuki Kitakubo’s 2000 animé feature, is far from a great film – its plot is mostly negligible and sometimes incomprehensible, existing only to justify a series of handsome, skillfully choreographed swordfights. But if you’re willing to accept it for what it is – a hyperactive fantasy, pleasantly ridiculous and delivered with amusing conviction by director Chris Nahon (Kiss of the Dragon) – you should be suitably entertained.

Saya (Gianna Jun, known in her native South Korea as Jeon Ji-hyun) is no ordinary 16-year-old. Being part vampire herself, she drinks blood, provided to her by a mysterious organization known as the Council. (Such deliberately generic monikers are common in movies like this.) She’s immortal, and has been fighting demons for more than 400 years, despite her youthful good looks. And with a sword in hand, she is more or less invincible.

Blood is set on an American military base in Japan, where Saya is sent by the Council to weed out the soulless vermin, often by removing their heads. We’re told they are vampires, though they don’t seem to feed on humans as much as they enjoy ripping them to shreds. There are also monsters to contend with, most of them bearing a striking resemblance to Gozer the Gozerian, which Saya dispatches without breaking a sweat.

But enough about the story, which is really beside the point. Blood is surprisingly engaging, a competently crafted creature feature with some dazzlingly stylish visuals and a star, in Jun, who is fun to watch as she gamely catapults herself from one skirmish to the next. Check your brain at the door and enjoy the spectacle.

Blood: The Last Vampire opens at the Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley on Friday, July 10. For showtimes, click here.