For those of you not already familiar with director Uwe Boll, let me bring you up to date: Boll is a German doctor of literature, who, ever since 2003’s “House of the Dead” has made a name for himself by buying the rights to videogames, bastardising their plots, concepts and characters for the screen, hiring the cheapest screenwriters he can find to pen the scripts, then churning out terrible films. All his videogame-to-movie transfers have been funded by a string of investors (and occasionally Boll himself) and released under his German production company Boll KG as, in Germany , a bizarre loophole in the law awards tax exemption to films that perform poorly at the box office.
Thankfully, in January of this year, the German government closed up this loophole, and disgruntled film fans like myself rejoiced at the thought of Dr Boll being brought to a stop. Unfortunately, he has now made such a name for himself (by basically sucking the life out of every videogame he touches) that his films always break even, largely due to people like myself buying or renting his movies out of morbid curiosity. And with four videogame adaptations lined up for the near future, Boll shows no sign of relenting, leaving the tarnished names of ruined game franchises in his wake.
Boll’s frankly astonishing lack of creativity is as present as ever in his latest game-to-movie feature “BloodRayne”. Betraying the plotline of the original game, the movie is set in the mid-1700s (the original game being set in the 1930s) and sees Rayne (Kristanna Loken, “T3”), a half-vampire, half-human team up with vampire hunters Vladimir (Michael Madsen), Sebastian (Matthew Davis) and Katarin (Michelle Rodriguez) to kill the Emperor of Romania/her father Kagan (Ben Kinsley) for some reason.
If you thought the plot structure of Boll’s “Alone in the Dark” was a mess, “BloodRayne” is worse, boasting countless superfluous subplots and spontaneous twists that were probably intended to make the film appear deep, but just ended up confusing everything, to the point where you can’t make heads nor tails of the movie. Not that it’s a particularly complex film, but a bad script (penned, surprisingly, by Guinevere Turner, writer of “American Psycho”) coupled with Dr Boll’s complete lack of competence in handling the subject matter eradicates anything remotely resembling a storyline, putting all the focus on the action.
This could be forgivable if “BloodRayne” actually contained some decent action. Kristanna Loken’s sword fighting is so cumbersome that she looks like her legs have been welded to the floor. I almost feel sorry for the trained martial artists that have to lose to her on film, but there’s only so much pity one can have for people who agrees to be in a Uwe Boll film. “BloodRayne’s” appalling “grand finale” action sequence — where the vampire hunters do battle with Kagan and his men — is a complete mess, with about five individual fights all happening at once. When Michael Madsen and Ben Kingsley take up arms against each other, it doesn’t look impressive or cool; it just looks like two aging men swinging around fake plastic weaponry.
Despite this, “BloodRayne” does have some good points. Unlike Boll’s previous films, “BloodRayne” almost manages to fit into the “so bad it’s hilarious” category. “House of the Dead” and “Alone in the Dark” were in fact better described as “so bad it’s just really bad”, but “BloodRayne” managed to get a smile and even a few laughs from me. This is largely due to the addition of good actors to the cast: Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Billy Zane and Meat Loaf. These men saunter through the film, chewing the scenery with a wry smile, practically saying to the audience, “This is a terrible film, and we’re only in it for the money”. Had the rest of the cast adopted this attitude, “BloodRayne” could have worked out brilliantly as a comedy, but Kristanna Loken, Matthew Davis and Michelle Rodriguez take the film almost as seriously as Boll does, thus ruining the effect.
To sum it up: “BloodRayne” is a terrible (if somewhat unintentionally funny) film. It’s better than Uwe Boll’s previous ventures, but still bad enough to convince the world that Dr Boll could not properly direct a stream of urine into the vague area of a toilet bowl, let alone a multi-million dollar movie. Yet, no matter how many negative reviews he gets or how poorly his films perform at the box office, he just blames these problems on biased reviewers and dumb audiences. Furthermore, he is taking time off from filming his next film “Postal” to fight a handful of his toughest critics in a 10-round boxing match.
You can beat up as many people as you want, Uwe, it won’t change the fact that your films suck.
Uwe Boll (director) / Guinevere Turner (screenplay)
CAST: Kristanna Loken …. Rayne
Michelle Rodriguez …. Katarin
Matthew Davis …. Sebastian
Ben Kingsley …. Kagan
Michael Madsen …. Vladimir
Billy Zane …. Elrich
Will Sanderson …. Domastir