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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

THE BLEEDING -- DVD review by porfle

When I saw the trailer for THE BLEEDING (2009), I thought, "What a cast!  This has gotta be good!"  Then I found out it was directed by Charles Picerni (brother of late, great actor Paul Picerni), whose only other feature film credit as first-unit director is the agonizingly bad comedy THREE DAYS TO VEGAS, and thought, "Oh my god!  This is gonna hurt!"

Well, maybe comedy just isn't Picerni's forte, because this rowdy action-horror flick looks pretty slick for a low-rent production and clatters along like a cheap carnival ride.  It's derivative as hell, lifting whole chunks out of films such as BLADE II and THE ROAD WARRIOR, but it's having so much fun mixing them around and throwing them back at us that it's infectious.

There's a story in there somewhere about a master vampire named Cain (Vinnie Jones) rising to rule the underworld and destroy us all.  Natural born vampire slayer and Vin Diesel-lookalike Shawn Black (Michael Matthias) is the only guy who can kill him because he's Cain's brother and thus part of the same "royal" bloodline.  Since Cain offed the 'rents before embarking on his current rampage, Black is miffed and looking for some big-time revenge.

That's about all we need to know, as the film moves rapidly from one setpiece to the next and keeps pouring on the action and gore.  Along with it is some amusingly hardboiled narration from the unflappable Black and a series of supporting characters to help keep things interesting.  DMX shows up early as an ally to Black, while "L.A. Ink" tattooist Kat Von D fangs it up as Cain's main squeeze.  Neither are master thespians, but in this movie that doesn't really matter.

Cain eventually runs across Father Roy, one of those cheerfully profane priests who drinks and curses like a sailor but has all kinds of faith--not to mention firepower, which has all been blessed--when it comes to battling the forces of evil.  With his black cowboy hat and flowing cassock, Michael Madsen has a ball in the role and actually puts some effort into it instead of breezing through a few scenes just for the paycheck.  After reciting some dubious scripture to Black, he assures him, "It's in the Bible," then adds with that trademark smirk, "somewhere."

Vinnie Jones also seems to be enjoying himself as Cain, baring his pointy teeth with evil gusto as he orchestrates his army of the undead.  I actually prefer Vinnie as the soft-spoken good guy in THE RIDDLE and think he should play more such roles which give him a chance to actually act.  But he seems destined to do parts like this and is a welcome presence in them.  My main disappointment is that Armand Assante appears in only one brief scene as a tough cop.  Assante is like a nuclear reactor of cool, and for him to be so underused is a colossal waste. 

When Black and Father Roy track the vampires down to a flashy techno club inside an abandoned factory, the BLADE II influence comes to the fore as scores of kinky vampires writhe on the dance floor with unsuspecting mortals before the blood feast begins.  The beautiful Lena (Rachelle Leah), whom Black met earlier at a rest stop, is chosen as Cain's bride and must be rescued when the scene explodes in a cacophony of guns and gore.

The next sequence finds Black and Lena escaping in an 18-wheeler with the vampire horde hot on their heels, and, as you might guess, it recalls THE ROAD WARRIOR with a vengeance.  It may lack the same level of finesse (to say the least) and suffer a bit from salad-shooter editing, but makes up for it with loads of comic-book style and vehicular destruction.

Director Picerni, who has had a badass film career performing and coordinating hundreds of high-profile stunts (as well as directing many TV episodes and serving as second-unit director on major films such as BASIC INSTINCT and GHOST) serves up a smorgasboard of thrilling auto and motorcycle stunts that climax with the rig jack-knifing down the highway.  Chip-off-the-old-block Steve Picerni serves as stunt coordinator. 

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1, with English and Spanish subtitles.  Extras include three five-minute featurettes (cast interviews, stunts, make-up and effects) and a trailer.

You know you're not watching an A-flick here, so you might as well relax and enjoy the cheesy, testosterone-fueled B-movie goodness--which THE BLEEDING provides in spades.  Packed with guns, ghouls, hot babes, cool cars, and metal-grinding mayhem, it's my kind of guilty pleasure.

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