BloodRayne is yet another horror/fantasy themed movie based on a videogame. You wouldn’t know it, though — unlike Doom, Tomb Raider or Resident Evil, it’s nearly impossible for a non-gamer like me to tell what the objective of the game is or to see a tie-in. (Apparently, the game takes place in the 20th century; the movie serves as its backstory, set in 18th century Romania.)
Kristanna Loken is Rayne, a beautiful, tough and vengeful half-vampire/half-human woman who’s known nothing but abuse at the hands of men. It started with her conception by rape, and things haven’t gotten any better. Finally, she escapes from her tormentors (the misogynists who run a traveling circus and put her on display in the freak show) and sets out to find and kill her father. Pops is none other than the all powerful vampire, Kagan (Ben Kingsley in a really silly wig).
As Rayne gathers her strength to fight him (first she has to find the Talisman of the Eye, bringing to mind the famous ring from The Beastmaster), she teams up with a trio of vampire-slayers from the Brimstone Society (Michelle Rodriguez, Michael Madsen and Matt Davis). There are a few notable cameos — Billy Zane, Udo Kier, and Meatloaf. Meatloaf has one scene only, in which he’s surrounded by a drug-dazed, totally naked harem (reportedly portrayed by actual Romanian prostitutes).
The acting is all over the place — Loken, Rodriguez, and Will Sanderson as an evil henchman, redeem themselves in that they seem to be into their roles and play their characters with a through-line. (Horny Loken fans will be glad to know Rayne isn’t shy about showing the goods and getting down and dirty for no apparent reason.) Kingsley and Madsen are at sea, their performances fluctuating manically. Zane is only in the movie for two minutes, and Meatloaf is in it even less (but is twice as bad).
BloodRayne is quite cheesy — mainly because the costumes resemble something out of the cosplay closet, and the dialogue is often appalling. Still, I must confess that the movie is fun and entertaining in a Dino De Laurentiis Productions meets Golan-Globus Productions kind of way. It’s got swords, leather, fortune-tellers, prophecies and horses. The visual effects, particularly when vampires feed and when they burn, are good.
From what I understand, fans of the game should enjoy this — if the game is all about action, violence, sex and vampiric powers, then BloodRayne the movie is right in line with that. The film has its moments and is nothing if not entertaining, so if you like this sort of thing (you know who you are!) do the Rayne-dance. If you already know you’re not into the Cheez-Whiz thing, it will make your Blood run cold. If you’re unsure, wait for the DVD.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson