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Blade II

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“Blade II” opens at a blood bank in Prague, where evil forces begin making premature withdrawals and liquidating the assets.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a vampire movie without blood. And it wouldn’t be a post-1990s vampire movie without buckets of it, not to mention plenty of other instances of dreadful, gratuitous violence.

This sequel to the 1998 hit, which was based on a comic book, spends its first 45 minutes being generically violent and establishing, through its reams and reams of internal mythology, who all the characters are and why they want each other dead.

At the center is Blade (Wesley Snipes), who speaks in a low, throaty voice, which in movie terms means he must be really cool. Blade was born half-human/half-vampire, and has dedicated his life to destroying the bloodsuckers.

He is assisted by a big-mouthed pot-head named Scud (Norman Reedus), and by a cootish old fellow named Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), who it turns out didn’t die when he got killed at the end of the first “Blade.”

They are contacted by emissaries from the vampire nation, who seek Blade’s help in defeating a common enemy. He is Nomak (Luke Goss), another half-breed who is even worse for vampires than Blade is. Whereas Blade just kills them, Nomak turns them into “reapers,” zombie-like creatures that go around biting more vampires and creating more reapers. Blade’s just a one-man killing machine; Nomak is creating an army of vampire slayers. And when he’s done, he will almost certainly turn to the human race.

So Blade and the vampires team up to battle Nomak and his legions, all of which makes for pretty solid entertainment in the style of some of your darker comic books. It sets up enemies and allies, then lets them kill each other. What more do you want?

Some of the dialogue, written by David S. Goyer, is surprisingly entertaining, mostly coming from Kris Kristofferson’s hillbilly-deadpan delivery as Whistler. Blade himself doesn’t do much but fight bad guys and look cool; he’s a reluctant, taciturn hero who probably has a lot going on in his head but who chooses to express himself with fists and weapons.

Several of the fight scenes, directed by Guillermo Del Toro, are tedious and unoriginal, while others are spectacular. The better ones are in the second half of the film, where the good guys’ quest is more clear and the paramaters of the battle are better established.

It’s not altogether a great movie, even within its genre. The mythology is sometimes too thick to wade through, and it’s hard to get past some of the more outrageous violence. Subplots are introduced and forgotten. But it culminates in some pretty amazing fights and plot twists, and you may rest assured that good eventually triumphs, none the worse for wear except being drenched in blood.

B- (; R, abundant harsh profanity, abundant blood and gore and violence.)