The concept of vampires versus werewolves is intriguing and will always draw a crowd regardless of its execution. This two-disc double feature DVD of the cult hit Underworld and its follow-up Underworld: Evolution contains plenty of brutal violence and special features to please die hard fans of the soon-to-be-complete series and is the perfect hype for Rise of the Lycans, in theaters January 23.

Underworld – Unrated Extended Cut

Not entirely memorable but mostly entertaining, Len Wiseman’s directorial debut is brimful of talent. The cast of greasy-haired hybrids are up to snuff, but it’s the beautiful Kate Beckinsale who leads the way in her sexy leather outfit and equipped with a pair of automatic Beretta M92FS handguns.

Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is a gorgeous lycan slayer whose sole purpose is to destroy the werewolf race. She falls in love with a human bitten by a lycan caught in the middle of the centuries old war between the two clans.

Shot almost entirely in a flourescent blue tone and consistently raining atmosphere, it has an uncommon look and monstrous action sequences to bolster its weak storytelling. In a rather ordinary tale of lust, betrayal, and sacrifice, it is these rousing action sequences and the finely toned cast and director that keep things at bay.

Wiseman’s decision to choose appearance over substance wasn’t a terrible decision, just an amateurish one. Based solely on a stylistic level (since substance is too difficult to find), Underworld looks ravishing and has its fair share of visceral thrills.

Clocking in at 134 minutes, the film is a bit overlong with a politically chauvinistic undertone that might not appeal to everyone. In the end everything works out pretty decently, but Underworld fans are left starving for more stylish action and less proverbial nonsense.

The special features include¬†fun outtakes, director and cast commentary, and an incredibly interesting documentary called “Fang vs. Fiction” that probes through the scientific possibility of vampires and werewolves being reality rather than myth. 2.5/5 stars

Underworld: Evolution

The special effects have been digitally modified and greatly improved, Kate Beckinsale reprises her role as the leather suited lycan hunter with a slight alteration in appearance (her hair is less frizzy), and the director who willingly chooses style over substance returns to direct this sequel to the popular cult hit Underworld.

After killing her vampire mentor Victor, Selene (Beckinsale) is now being hunted for this forbidden death by Marcus, leader of the vampire clan. But Marcus is more interested in finding and releasing his powerful lycan brother William who has been imprisoned for eternity, afraid that his death would mean the end of the lycan race.

More brutal than the first and with a much quicker pace, Evolution is exactly what a sequel should be. This ultra-violent entry in the Underworld series is loaded with more merciless action, more intensity, more sexuality, and much more fun than its ancestor ever had. But where the action and brutality increased greatly in this worthy sequel, the plot to Len Wiseman’s irresistible concept of vampires verses werewolves became weaker than that of its predecessor. Thankfully Wiseman took notes and limited this familiar empty talk.

Enhancing the violence quota with Wiseman’s perverse talent of spewing a generous amount of blood on the screen is precisely what was demanded after his dialog-ridden directorial debut Underworld. Evolution has a story that may be flimsy, but wins over its cult following by being more historically accurate, doubling the action, and finishing off with a delightfully gory climax.

The special features include director and filmmakers commentary, a music video, with the highlight of the special features being six featurettes that elucidate the specifics of character development in a sequel, stunt choreography, and more. 3.5/5 stars