BloodRayne 2: Deliverance DVD Review
Written by Milos Jovanovic
DVD released by Vivendi Visual Entertainment
Directed by Uwe Boll
Written by Written by Christopher Donaldson and Neil Every
2007, Region 1, 99 minutes, Unrated
DVD released on September 18th, 2007
Natassia Malthe as Rayne
Zack Ward as Billy the Kid
Michael Paré as Pat Garret
Chris Coppola as Newton Pyles
Michael Teigen as Slime Bag Franson
Michael Eklund as The Preacher
Welcome to the Wild West — or, at least, what's left of it. Out on the frontier, there is a little town called Deliverance, which is slowly prospering along. The introduction of the railroad will be the next step in their development, which should ensure more income and increase the living standard of the small, peaceful populace. Right as that's about to happen, Deliverance is visited by mr. Newton Pyles, a journalist from out east, who is sent by his Chicago newspaper to write some fanciful drivel about the west and fill up the newspaper pages with interesting stories of gunfights and such. He is, however, quick to realize that civilization is taking over, and that he might be forced to leave in order to find some material to scribble about.
Just as he's about to leave, something drastic happens. A gang of vampire cowboys, lead by Billy the Kid, storms the town and takes all children hostage. Billy is, it seems, bent on making a bloodsucking army. By adding the local sheriff and all of his posse to his ranks, he ensures that nobody will undermine his plans. Until a blade-wielding babe called Rayne comes to town, that is. Aided by Billy's archnemesis Pat Garrett and a twosome of experienced gunslingers, Rayne is set to end the reign of terror imposed upon the small town and restore the order.
You can only imagine the grin on my face when I found out I will be reviewing an Uwe Boll movie. It is, after all, a rather dubious honour for any reviewer — the good doctor from Germany has been a rarely unifying presence in the world of cinema for the past five or so years, with everyone and his sister universally panning everything he ever made. With such knowledge behind me, it was apparent that I'm in for another ride on the trashcart.
And, fair enough, dr. Boll didn't fail to impress me. BloodRayne 2: Deliverance (BR2 in further writing) is simply an amazing exercise in cinematic ineptitude. Without much polish, I have to say this is simply a bad film from every angle. It fails as a western, as a horror, as everything.
I do have to say that Boll had good intentions. After setting the first BloodRayne in medieval Transylvania, the second one finds itself in the wild west, as the director attempts to fuse horror and western into something watchable. What is rather peculiar is that BR2 is a sort of a homage to Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West. The main story arc is similar (a small town with the railroad coming soon in distress), and all the music cues are blatant ripoffs of Morricone's legendary soundtrack. Boll furtherly reinforces his statement by shooting an awful lot of closeups of the main characters, focusing on their eyes and such. Essentially, he just pasted vampires into a somewhat established old west framework. If anything, the potential was there.
Sadly, Boll is no Leone, and it shows from the very beginning. You will notice within the first five minutes that he is unable to line up a single shot, as referenced by the shaky camera which cannot stay in focus even in static scenes. This does not improve as we move on — the action set-pieces are shoddily executed, and the overrelieance on slow-motion deaths a la John Woo just seems like overkill. The inability to have a stable frame to shoot in proves extremely detrimental in gunfight scenes — all the dramatic buildup with closeups goes for naught if you get the feeling that the man behind the camera suffers from Alzheimer's. The big final showdown somewhat redeems the whole thing, but even then you'll be able to spot numerous cock-ups in choreography.
The cast tries hard, but that's not always enough. Zack Ward is pick of the bunch, and his vampyric Billy the Kid is easily the best character in the whole film, complete with some silly speeches and over-the-top acting. Chris Coppola, who plays Pyles, turns in a solid performance, just as Michael Eklund who has a fun time as the local preacher. Natassia Malthe is pretty, but ultimately talentless in the title role, and Michael Pare, whose Pat Garrett is really not enough in the film for the third billing, is a long way removed from his star days back in the '80s. Weak, cliched script doesn't help anyone either. A combination of pulp western fiction and modern sensibilities, it makes you think if this would work better as a silent movie. Case in point — a line in which Pare tells to Coppola that "life is like a penis. If it's hard, you get screwed. If it's soft, you can't beat it". Yeah, I can totally imagine Clint Eastwood or John Wayne endulging into such wisdom.
In the end, BR2 is a sorry affair, a half-baked attempt to splice Leone and Carpenter into one. Still, I do have to admit that Boll, at very least, has his heart in the right place. His ambitions are good, and he has solid ideas...it's just, well, that he's painfully inept.
Video and Audio:
Bloodrayne 2: Deliverance is shot in 1.85:1 widescreen ratio, and is given anamorphic transfer for this release. The video looks pretty good, especially in the dark scenes which are usually the places where you spot bad transfers. No complaints here from me.
Audio options given are English 2.0 DD and English 5.1 DD. Both sound pretty good to my ears, the audio is clear and crisp and all lines spoken out fully understandable. I've no surround system to test it fully, but the crippled version sounds just fine.
- Audio Commentary by Director Uwe Boll and Director of Photography Mathias Neumann
- Three Extended Scenes
- Interview with Director and Cast
- Deleted Scenes
- Digitized Comic Book "Tibetan Heights"
- Trailer for Postal
- "Bloodrayne", the Original Video Game as a Bonus DVD
The audio commentary is fun to listen to, if nothing then only for both Boll and Neumann who do their best to sound eloquent on film while their brainchild unfolds in front of your eyes. Needless to say, it's downright hilarious to hear Neumann try and explain you his ideas of shooting juxtaposed against a badly framed shot which has the "shakes". Boll mainly talks about his western visions, expresses his love for Sergio Leone (as if nobody noticed), and ponders the making of Bloodrayne 3 (yikes), which would be set against World War II backdrop. You've been warned.
The extended scenes are nothing special, nor add anything interesting to them. They are related to the characters of Deliverance mayor and Newton Pyles.
Interview with the director and cast is a funny little feature, again, for the same reasons like the director's commentary. Everyone talks in superlatives about the film, and Zack Ward really excels — he even dubbed BloodRayne 2 as "Unforgiven meets Bram Stoker's Dracula"! Boll, for all his lack of directing knowledge, comes across rather likable. One gets the impression he really, really likes and respects cinema, and that he's fairly intelligent, but, well...he's not a great director. The featurette also features classic Morricone western music as a background, as the doctor really seems intent on letting us know that he idolizes Leone.
Deleted scenes are not really "deleted", they are more of a collection of outtakes. Most of them are perfunctory, especially the lengthy railyard construcion scene which clocks in at around six pointless minutes.
Digitized comic book is one of the better extras. Basically, a whole issue of "BloodRayne" comics — namely, "Tibetan Heights" — is presented here for your reading pleasure. You flip the pages with the remote and can zoom in or out. A nice, worthy addition.
Uwe Boll's next picture, Postal, is treated with a trailer on this release. Amazingly, Postal is going to be a crude humour comedy rather than a based-on-a-videogame horror-action flick, and it looks...tempting, actually. The trailer is fun, too, even though you won't figure out what it's about, it's just a copy/paste assemblage of some perceived highpoints.
Last, but not least, a copy of original "BloodRayne" PC game is shipped along with this release. For those of you who are not in the know, "BloodRayne" is a third person adventure game in which the title character gets busy with eradicating some Nazis around the world. It's good fun, if a bit dated, and you might wanna play it to see what inspired Boll to make those movies.
Overall, this is a solid supplementary package, and the weak features are redeemed by the comic book and the videogame.