Witchblade (DVD)

Witchblade (DVD)
The pilot movie, and the entire series
Updated: 07-17-2008

Ever-spouting smart one-liners like a Pez-dispenser, Det. Sara Pezzini (Yancy Butler), a fifth generation NYPD lifer, finds herself hip-deep in a heap of magical mishaps and murder most foul within just the first few minutes of the pilot movie for Witchblade, a short-lived TV series from the early 2000s.


It's based on a Top Cow comic, and in that the character is barely clothed but always armed with her wits and her Witchblade — the live-action show doesn't show a lot of beauteous Butler, but the rest of the vibe remains intact.


Pez, partnered with good ally Det. Danny Woo (Will Yun Lee), is already in a state of disarray when we meet her (mom's dead, her dad's been brutally killed, as has a close friend of hers), but things go from bad to worse when she encounters Mob boss Gallo (Conrad Dunn). He's behind a string of crimes, including a museum heist, wherein Pez almost loses her life… but instead finds her destiny in an ancient relic called The Witchblade.


Kind of like a gauntlet gone wild, this shape-shifting instrument of invincability is indeed a double-edged blade — but fortunately, it's got an instruction manual (in the form of a shadowy stranger played by Eric Etebari). Still, it's hard to read the directions sometimes and Pez learns how to use the deadly Witchblade little by little as the series unfolds. In the pilot, it's mostly about the curve, how the Mob factors in, why the blade has always been wielded by women (hello, Joan of Arc flashback!), and how Pez factors into the destiny of our mundane world.


Overall, the pilot is interesting and — while definitely contrived — lively. The TV-series tone is fully forgivable as long as you're not expecting much above the bar, and the casting is good. Butler is believable in both her perplexity and her purpose-driven need to solve the murders of her family and friends (pray you're not on her speed-dial). Pez is convinced Gallo and the Blade are connected, and she's also curious to know how and why a handsome young man has suddenly appeared in her life — if he's too good to be true, he probably is.


While I enjoyed the introduction to the Witchblade world, I did not find myself quite interested enough to want to delve into the episodic portion of the series (but I understand rocker Roger Daltrey plays Satan in one of them; and Nip/Tuck's John Hensley plays a dealer of cursed antiques). Still in all, if you like the inherent conceit (magical fantasy worlds and immortal, wicked wizards invading our everyday existence), Witchblade is nicely presented and well-acted. And that's no small wonder: It's directed by Ralph Hemecker, who also did some episodes of The X-Files and Millennium.


The DVD contains all the original music from when it aired, which isn't always the case (White Zombie's Living Dead Girl plays, as Pez strips down to her wifebeater and works out till she sweats and collapses… hey, I did say it's clichéd), and there are a couple of negligible featurettes. All in all, Witchblade is a decent timewaster.


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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson

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