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DVD REVIEW:  Rise: Blood Hunter

Three words. Naked Lucy Liu.

Nine more words: Naked Lucy Liu kissing another sizzling hot naked girl. If that hasn’t caught your attention, I’m not sure what else will. Five minutes into Rise: Blood Hunter (Unrated, Undead) I was sitting on the couch with my mouth hanging open seeing Miss Liu in a whole new light, literally and metaphorically. Kudos Miss Lucy! Kudos!

All of those scantily clad moments aside I was thoroughly surprised at just how much I truly enjoyed this movie considering the last few vampire flicks I’ve rented have been great disappointments. Rise, however, was a dark and sexy interpretation of the genre that captivated my attention till the very end. Full of desperation, desire and darkness Rise breathed fresh life into the immortal world with sharp dialogue, well-developed characters and a quick plot pace to carry the viewer steadily from the opening scene to the closing credits. Destination Films and Ghost House Pictures, the producers of The Grudge, have come together once again to create a savagely eerie noir-stylized vampire film brimming with lust, violence and blood. Following a female reporter by the name of Sadie Blake (Lucy Liu) as she investigates the vicious rape and murder of a teenage girl, Rise draws the viewer deep inside the twisted world of a dying vampire clan. Bishop (James D’Arcy), the psychotically sexy leader of the clan, finds out about Sadie’s snooping around the crime scene and decides to make her one of them. After waking up in the morgue to the horrifying realization of what she has become, Sadie decides to seek vengeance upon Bishop and his family. Armed with only a crossbow and the help the alcoholic cop father of the slain teenage girl (Michael Chiklis) Sadie stalks the last vampires that will lead her to Bishop.

Where many of the vampire films from the past few years have decided to take a brutal psychedelic approach to their delivery, Rise attacks the genre from a more an unsuspected angle, choosing to keep the storyline simple and superbly crafted rather than making up for a lack of substance with needless vats of gore. The mood is a blend of dark gothic and modern crime noir that gives the film a strong timeless feel to it. This is not to say that Rise is tame or timid in its brutality. The crimes these vampires commit are merciless and messy, draining their victims in a bloodbath after slashing their throats with a knife. Even though their tactic for slaying their victims is grotesque, the confident sultry performances delivered by Liu, Gugino and D’Arcy pull Rise back to the raw, demented passion vampirism at its finest. My one true criticism of this unique portrayal of vampires is that they lack fangs. I realize that drinking blood is drinking blood, but a vampire without fangs… To me, it is a key element the identity of the vampire and its absence is disappointing.

In the end, I fell in love with Rise: Blood Hunter (Unrated, Undead), despite the lack of fangs, and plan on adding it permanently to my personal collection of vampire films. I have gained a new respect for Lucy Liu as an actress and I would love to see her in more vampire films. I highly recommend this film as an excellent weekend rental!

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