You'd think that a movie with a plot just like "Blade," only starring Lucy Liu instead of Wesley Snipes, would make for a campy, crazy good time. A movie filled with pulpy dialog, tons of action, a dark sense of humor, and more than enough action scenes to keep the pace moving. Those would all be fair assumptions, right?
Wrong. The strangely titled "Rise: Blood Hunter" could have been all sorts of broadly entertaining, but the thing's too damn self-serious to incite much enthusiasm in the viewers. Plus the vamp attacks are few and far between, the action scenes are brief and unsatisfying, and the lead actress seems really quite bored by the proceedings. Eliminate a few colorful supporting players and a small handful of nasty bites, and the movie's as dry and dirt ... and half as interesting.
Ms Liu plays a reporter who's been delving deep into the rave culture.
Of course she stumbles across an underground vampire coven, and she gets neck-chomped for being so nosy. After awakening as a member of the undead (and sloppily feasting on a few unlucky folks), the sexy "blood hunter" sets out to eliminate the plasma-suckers who done her wrong.
Toss in a meandering subplot about a cop who wants revenge on the evil vampires, and you've got just enough to fill 90-some (very) unremarkable minutes. "Rise" is entertaining by accident more often than it is on purpose, and even then the amusing bits are annoyingly few and far between.
Although it boasts some rather fine cinematography from John Toll and some fairly nifty music by Nathan Barr, the main problem here is that of pacing. Long stretches of very dry (and very familiar) material hit the screen with little in the way or freshness of energy. Liu sleepwalks her way through a dreary character, seemingly content to allow co-stars like James D'Arcy (as the sneering villain) or Michael Chiklis (and the aggravated cop) provide all the personality. As an ass-kicking undead anti-heroine, Liu comes off more like ... a mildly annoyed flight attendant. She seems very bored by the proceedings; her attitude definitely manages to rub off on the viewer.
One hoped that the strange supporting cast (which includes small turns by Carla Gugino, Mako, Elden Henson, Samaire Armstrong, Simon Rex, Nick Lachey, and Marilyn Manson) would add a little extra "camp value" to this strange little B-movie, but nobody seems all that interested in vamping it up all that much. (Pun intended.) Basically, this is a dry and dreary little affair, one that's almost shamefully beholden to B-flicks that are a lot more energetic and a lot less intent on being taken seriously. As a DVD rental, maybe. As anything else, don't even bother.