About 25 minutes into “Dracula 2: Ascension”, Fair Hair Lead Elizabeth (Diane Neal) moans, “Why is this happening?” Well, Lizzie, let’s recap what you’ve done in just the last 10 minutes alone, shall we? Let’s see: discover a vampire in your morgue; steal the vampire; and then feed the vampire a bathtub full of blood. Gee, no wonder Elizabeth is so shocked that Dracula woke up, killed one of her friends, and tries to kill the rest. Stupid girl.
You have to really like genre movies to like “Ascension”, but even then the movie will try your patience. A sequel to the theatrical film “Dracula 2000”, “Ascension” is Straight-to-Video, and from what I can tell it has a slightly smaller budget and lower quality of writing. Other than that, the same filmmakers behind the original made the sequel. The filmmakers also made a third installment at the same time called “Dracula 3: Legacy”, but at present there’s no release date for the third.
Jason Scott Lee (“Dragon”) stars as Uffizi, a priest and vampire hunter, who has tracked the burning corpse of Dracula (last seen roasting on a cross over Mardi Gras) to a morgue. Before Uffizi can destroy the undead bloodsucker’s remains, enterprising coroner Luke (Jason London) and med student Elizabeth steals the body. Elizabeth’s plan is to use Drac’s powers to save Lowell (Craig Sheffer), the love of her life, but Luke just wants to get rich because a mysterious phone call has offered him $3 million for the body.
It’s up to Uffizi to find the kids before they get offed by the resurrected Drac, although I have to say, with kids this dumb and intellectually — as well as morally — bankrupt, all I’m hoping for is that Dracula will kill them slow and long and make it very painful. Unfortunately writers Joel Soisson and Patrick Lussier don’t quite share my enthusiasm for bloodletting. As a result the med students and Sheffer’s character lives for way too long and their deaths, when we finally get them, aren’t even worthwhile. Decapitated heads? That’s all we get? You’ve got to be kidding me.
If you could stand the mundane scenes where the would-be-victims go through about 5 different personalities within the space of the movie’s 85 minutes, then there is Jason Scott Lee’s Uffizi to carry the day. As the vampire hunter/priest, Lee is the most interesting character in the film, not to mention its one and only saving grace. The most frustrating thing about “Ascension” is just how abysmal the other characters are when compared to Lee’s, and director Lussier’s inability to realize how bad the movie is when Lee isn’t around to save it.
I wanted to know more about Uffizi, but all I got was a love triangle between the greedy Luke, the crippled Lowell, and the intellectually retarded Elizabeth. As the resurrected vampire, Stephen Billington doesn’t do much except be tied to a post as he’s experimented on. The screenwriters manage to explain the appearance of a new actor playing the Dracula character with a simple line of dialogue that mentions Dracula’s change of appearance after every resurrection. Roy Scheider (“Jaws”) also shows up briefly as Uffizi’s mentor, but his scenes equal a total of 2 minutes, although that doesn’t prevent the film from bragging about his appearance on its boxcover.
If it’s not obvious by now “Ascension” is not a very good horror film. Its weakest elements are its characters, all of which (with the exception of Uffizi) wobbles from irritating to annoying to unbearably lame. Khary Payton plays the African-American Kenny, whose character manages to join the ranks of the Loudmouth Black Guy, that movie stereotype filled capably by Chris Tucker and Martin Lawrence.
It should also be noted that “Ascension” ends with a cliffhanger. How silly of the filmmakers, making us buy/rent 2 movies just to see one completed lousy film. Now that’s gumption for ya.
Patrick Lussier (director) / Patrick Lussier, Joel Soisson (screenplay)
CAST: Stephen Billington …. Dracula
Jason Scott Lee …. Uffizi
Jason London …. Luke
Craig Sheffer …. Lowell
Diane Neal …. Elizabeth