Following up from my review of BloodRayne, I give you my views on its unnecessary yet inevitable sequel, BloodRayne II: Deliverance. This one went straight to DVD, and apparently had a significantly lower budget, in part, it is said, because of the box office failure of the first film.
The filmmakers picked the 19th century American West as the setting for this sequel, and the film’s genre is very much that of your run-of-the-mill Western:
A bunch of bad guys come into a small Frontier town and take control. Cue a group of heroes challenging the baddies and restoring justice. Just that the baddies in this case are vampires… …you get the picture.
In some ways, this film is much better at world-building than the first one. Possibly because this world is much more limited in scope as well as much more familiar to us than the world of the first film. The first two scenes are enough to introduce the audience to the time and place quite nicely.
Probably because of the lower budget and because of the reputation of the first film, Uwe Boll could no longer rope in stars like Ben Kingsley or Geraldine Chaplin for his enterprise; and he had to recast the role of Rayne, because Kristanna Loken was otherwise engaged.
Yet, somehow he still got a number of really experienced actors, like Zack Ward and Brendan Fletcher for example. All of them, however, are out-done by Chris Coppola who gives a great performance as a Chicago journalist; though I will admit that he had the advantage of having by far the most rewarding role in this film.
Over all, the actors vary greatly in talent. Unfortunately, the film suffers a lot from an extremely mediocre performance by its leading woman. Natassia Malthe – god bless her – is just not a great actress. And whatever you thought about Kristanna Loken’s acting in the first film, Malthe is not even on par with that.
The film does little to enlighten you about the characters’ motivations. We sort of learn of the vampire-in-chief’s master plan, but for the rest of the characters it all stays a bit vague and pale, and the story meanders around like a shallow stream in order to somehow finally get to the final shoot-out, which is seemingly all the director ever wanted, not caring much how he gets there.
For this reason, the assembly of the quartet of heroes is one of the worst versions of “getting the band together” ever written for film.
Another weak point is the language spoken in the film. It seems there was no central concept concerning the use of language, and each actor made up their own version of mock 19th century Wild West English language, and these versions differ widely in style from each other. But we could also be gracious and say that these are all people from different parts of North America and different walks of life who all ended up in the West for various reasons. It’s all about suspension of disbelief, isn’t it?
The real problem is that this Western slang becomes exceptionally inarticulate when the actors try to sound “tough”. This “tough” gibberish is difficult enough to understand with any actor, but on top of that Malthe has a toothpick between her teeth in one scene, making her speech nearly unintelligible; and the same goes for one of the baddies in that same scene, who has a cigar clenched firmly between his teeth while talking. Might all look and sound “tough”, but unfortunately, it is also extremely “tough” to understand. This is something the director should have considered.
Let’s try and find some positive things: the Wild West shoot-out scenes are at times quite good, and the way some of these scenes are choreographed and shot does betray the influence of the Spaghetti Western tradition, especially in combination with the score music. This score is a bit run-of-the-mill and a bit repetitive, but not really horrible at all. The same could be said for the opening credits, which are sort of simple but effective. Score and opening credits are two of the elements (set design would be another example) which show on the one hand that the production had to make do with limited financial means, but are at the same time proof that they really tried to do something solid with that money. Which is something I sort of respect.
Yet whatever respect one feels for this film goes right out the window when one of the heroes ends the film with the infamous line: “…life is like a penis. When it’s hard you get screwed. When it’s soft you can’t beat it.” I guess you need to be Uwe Boll to find that sentence an appropriate closing line for a film.
This film is not a complete shambles, and not completely horrible, but it is far from being a good film and is all-in-all rather pointless. In a way, it feels more coherent than the first film, but probably only because of the smaller scope. And unfortunately, Malthe’s “acting” ruins this sequel. In judging BloodRayne II: Deliverance, I feel I could easily reuse a line from my review of the first BloodRayne film: calling this film mediocre would be a euphemism.
I guess 3.5 out of 10 would be a fair rating, or possibly just 3.0. Imdb’s current rating is 2.6, which is a bit on the low side, but not really too low, i. e. not a rating anyone involved in this film could seriously complain about.