The Breed (2001) Movie Review

Michael Oblowitz, the director of “The Breed”, was last seen trying to survive the Human Dough Boy (or as I like to call him, the Man Formerly Known as Credible Action Star Steven Seagal) with “The Foreigner”, which seems like a masterpiece compared to this dreck. Adrian Paul, a very long way from “Highlander: Endgame” (his last reputable part), is Aaron Gray, a vampire cop that teams up with human cop Steve Grant (Bokeem Woodbine) to track down a vampire serial killer. The duo is antagonistic toward each other at first, but eventually learns to respect one another’s differences blah blah blah.

The most interesting and successful thing about “The Breed” is its merging of the human world with the vampire underworld. Vampires exist here, but it’s only recently that they have come out of the closet and declared their existence to the authorities (with the rest of the world’s populace still kept in the dark). As vampires in movies always seem to be, Gray and his fellow vampires are stronger, faster, and just plain weird. But like all vampires post-“Blade”, these bloodsuckers love techno, dresses up in weird clothes blah blah blah.

The point is, it’s all been done, and despite its novel idea of humans and vampires living and working together in the same world, the film is still a waste of time. “Blade” and its sequel took the whole vampirism-as-alternative lifestyle thing to a whole new level and destroyed it as an original concept for everyone else. It comes as no surprise that “Breed” looks most like “Blade 2” (even though I’m certain “Breed” was made first), since they both utilize the same East European locales. This gives “Breed” the archaic squalor and beaten-down look of a decrepit world. It’s all very effective, moody, and completely real, although I’m not entirely sure what this says about East European cities, natch.

The biggest problem with “Breed” is its belief that it is clever and highbrow. And just in case you and your 2-year old still haven’t figured out that the movie’s police agency and the plight of the minority vampires are supposed to be allegories to Jews and Nazi Germany during the Jewish persecution of World War II, the movie’s writers also make the Gray character a — ready for this? — Polish Jew/vampire! Of course, since Gray has lived through World War II, he hammers away the allegory theme endlessly.

And oh, there are plenty of Nazi motifs strewn throughout the film in case you still don’t “get” that this movie has something important to say. (And yes, I was snickering when I typed that last line.) For instance, soldiers in this anachronistic world wear uniforms that look like Russian Red Army leftovers while others wear Nazi-inspired threads. Also, the “s” letters on propaganda banners resemble the “s” used by the Nazis in their “SS” banners. Sigh. I would have given anything for writers Christos Gage and Ruth Fletcher to get over their “we’re writing an important movie here!” delusions.

Why can’t “Breed” just be a good action film? As an action movie, “Breed” is a big, big mess. The movie’s centerpiece action sequence — a gun battle between the vampires and human cops at a shipyard — is what amateur filmmaking is made off. Also, I can’t stress enough how badly the movie uses wireworks. If there was a level of incompetence, “The Breed” would bust the lowest scale and continue on until it busted its pretentious head on its own lack of talent.

Bokeem Woodbine, last seen mumbling his way through “Sniper 2”, mumbles and curses his way through “The Breed”. In the first 30 minutes alone, Woodbine’s Grant must have managed somewhere in the vicinity of 100 different usages of the “f” word. Adrian Paul doesn’t fair any better, since he plays Gray as if the vampire cop was channeling Mister Data from “Star Trek”. Meaning Gray acts as if he hasn’t been hiding his vampire identity from humans for decades, but rather he’s been living under a rock for that long, and thus doesn’t “get” any of Grant’s slang. The discrepancies in Gray’s personality and (lack of) knowledge are in service of culture clash humor, of course. Needless to say, you can hear the many big thuds all the way in China.

“The Breed” is a terrible movie that is only saved by its sometimes inspired visuals — but even that isn’t enough salvation. It tries so hard to be clever and intelligent with its “Brazil” rip-offs that it comes across as a child trying to imitate what it’s seen adults do. The result is a movie that stumbles over itself trying to copy everyone from John Woo to Terry Gilliam to Anne Rice. And I’m pretty sure half of the movie’s budget went to keeping that fog machine working, because it sure didn’t go to hiring a decent action choreographer.

Michael Oblowitz (director) / Christos N. Gage, Ruth Fletcher (screenplay)
CAST: Adrian Paul …. Aaron Gray
Bokeem Woodbine …. Steve Grant
Ling Bai …. Lucy Westenra
P’ter Halasz …. Cross
James Booth …. Fleming
Lo Ming …. Seward

Buy The Breed on DVD