The opening sequence is brilliant. A woman lures a man to a party in an abattoir. It’s an aggressive crowd, and when the fire sprinklers come on, it’s not water but blood, and everyone around the man turns into a vampire. Blade arrives to kill as many vampires as he can — his raison d‘etre. It’s thrilling and weird. Vampires now own half of Manhattan. There is a vampire Bible, and a ritual to awaken a blood god. Which makes sense, right? Vampires would worship a blood god.
Blade is like a magical source of future movie ideas. The long black jacket and sunglasses, kung-fu fight sequences, being ‘the chosen one’, and even the black marble hallway fight scene can all be found in The Matrix twelve months later. The flow of blood through an elaborate ancient mechanism to bring an apocalypse appears in The Cabin in the Woods. And while Blade came first, his samurai-like lifestyle, especially the meditation joss sticks and little cushion, whilst laudible, is nowhere near as cool as Forest Whittaker in his pigeon loft in Ghost Dog. Just sayin’.
Blade is also the first of Marvel’s adult superhero films, and we are still seeing that thread unfurl. Wesley Snipes even tried to get a version of Black Panther made before he signed up for Blade. It’s a fun, if empty, blockbuster, with an amazing performance by Stephen Dorff as the baddest of the bad vampires, Deacon Frost. Blade is a hidden cultural phenomenon.