Rise: Blood Hunter

Rise: Blood Hunter balances the grounds of erotic thriller and horror film, dipping more into the blood of the latter. However, is it really just a weaker version of the concept behind Blade? Read on to learn this and more in a rambling Wes Laurie review.

Rise was directed by Sebastian Gutierrez who has gained writing credits on films such as Gothika, Snakes On A Plane, and the upcoming remake of The Eye; starring Jessica Alba. (Yes it is mandatory for me to state the name Jessica Alba every chance possible; regardless of the herpes rumors) Gutierrez, with Lucy Liu as his lead actress, shows us the story of a woman killed and turned into a blood craving being. Most beings are somewhat sexual in nature and this vampire story explores a cult of blood drinkers, who mix their sex with murder. Liu’s character, like Blade, is hunting down and killing those responsible for her creation.

Unlike Blade, Liu’s character lacks any interesting super powers aside from the ability to hold a miniature crossbow in a manner that was obviously learned from her Charlie’s Angels roles. Her acting is hit and miss with her soft voice and one-liners, which doesn’t make for a great formula right off the bat. The first hour of the film doesn’t do the material justice. Sure, it isn’t too original a concept with bloody sex being the main twist of attempted difference, however there is a strong backbone to the story. After the first hour the film sort of seems to reset and the movie it should be begins to take over. Dare I say it is thanks to a Marilyn Manson cameo as a bartender?

After the first hour the film has a solidly entertaining 20 minutes or so, with a very well handled scene of dialog between Liu’s character and one played by Carla Gugino; of I ate my own arm, lesbian therapist in Sin City fame. The supporting cast with a drunken police detective played by Michael Chiklis start pulling more of their weight as well, with all of Chiklis’ previous scenes being pretty darn silly as far as trying to set up his drinking habits; cliché to the max. There is a long list of recognizable faces throughout the film from Robert Forster to Cameron Richardson, Samarie Armstrong, Holt McCallany, Simon Rex, Nick Lachey, Elden Henson,  and James D’Arcy does a fine job as the main villain. The vibe of those 20 minutes, however, may or may not continue  to carry the film through to its predictable ending for some people.

Personally I was impressed by some of the intricacies of the story not fully explored, some of the power struggle sub-plots that could fuel a sequel. Therefore, after Marilyn Manson appeared and woke me from my dozing I actually paid more attention and the rest of the film worked well for me. It felt like they had all of the right puzzle pieces, give or take Liu’s acting, and put them together, just not to make the right picture. It was enough for me to say I would be interested in a sequel. Perhaps in the future it won’t take cameos to perk me up initially.

Rise: Blood Hunter is almost worth renting, but only for those looking to last through a bad hour to get to something that is semi-interesting. The movie is told in a non-linear way which worked well and the version I saw was the Unrated Dvd, so if there is another version available I would for sure skip it and stick to the director’s cut. Horror fans are not getting a fangs barring action flick here, but rather one with that erotic thriller vibe interlaced with some Blade mechanics and some attempted tension ploys,  and erotic thriller fans are going to get more blood than they bargained for and one scene where the effects people did a superb job with the gore.

All of my rambling aside, overall final word: if they make a sequel I’ll watch it and if that work mixes the sex, blood, action, and story a bit better then looking back I will have said Rise was a decent start. However, right now it is the kind of film going straight to the Dvd bargain bins.

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