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A 2009 live-action film based on the anime short.

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Samurai Swordplay Action and Japanese Vampiric Lore in this Adaptation of the Anime Film!

  • Jul 12, 2009

Vampires and Samurai action; a great combination. Such as the case with "Blood the Last Vampire", an anime film made in 2000. It garnered a cult following that several interpretations were made in different mediums.

The one-shot (sequel to the anime film) manga by Benkyo Tamaoki was published in 2001, that was also inspired by the anime cult classic film directed by Kitakubo Hiroyuki which has also spawned a Japanese TV series called “Blood +”. “BLOOD THE LAST VAMPIRE” is the live-action treatment of the anime film that carried the same name which was released in 2008 in Japan under the title “Last Blood” (aka. Rasuto Buraddo). Directed by Chris Nohan with screenplay written by Chris Chow, the film focuses on a half-human, half vampire girl named Saya who hunts and kills full-blooded vampires and shape-shifting demons in alliance with the humans. It stars Korean bombshell Jeon Ji-Hyeon (My Sassy Girl) in the lead; credited as Gianna Jun in this film. I was fortunate that the film is playing on a limited engagement in San Francisco.

Saya (Jeon Ji-Hyeon) is a 400 year old half human, half-vampire who was sired by a human demon/vampire hunter and a vampire mother. Raised and trained to become a hunter by a man called Kato, Saya is now the chief operative of a secret organization who hunts vampires called the ’Council’, in her quest to seek out the most powerful vampire, Onigen--also said to be one of the oldest of the vampires. Saya is sent to go undercover at a U.S. air force base located in Japan. Saya is a loner and likes to work alone, but as fate would have it, she forms an uneasy friendship with a girl named Alice after she saved her from other demons. Saya is determined to kill her way to find Onigen, but now it seems like the hunter has become the hunted…


When Bill Kong announced the live-action rendition of “Blood the Last Vampire” and decided to shoot the film primarily in English rather than Japanese (its anime source was in both English and Japanese), I was excited. The film experienced several hurdles to get the project into production but hey, I guess this is what happens when American filmmakers invest in the making of a film. The film’s backdrop takes place during the 1970’s with the shadow of the Vietnam War looming in Japan. The film follows the plot and tone set by the anime series, as shape-shifting demons and vampires are living among the human population, they are everywhere and Saya is on the road for vengeance as the most powerful vampire, Onigen (played by Koyuki, Last Samurai) is the one who had killed her father centuries ago. The film is a story of vengeance and redemption, and the script by Chris Chow does remember to explore the depths of Saya’s soul; yes, Saya is a vampire with a conscience, raised by humans with some very human emotions and sensibilities.

Much of Saya’s background is told in the form of her own narration. I was quite pleased that although Saya looks like someone in her early twenties, she acts like a mature, experience-rich woman. Nicely portrayed by Jeon Ji-Hyeon, Saya is a vampire whose soul is torn between the human world and the demon world. She is at odds with herself, and one may say that her hatred for Onigen is the one catalyst for her to hunt down her own kind. Saya is half human, therefore she can walk under the sunlight, all the more having the same strengths and weaknesses as her full-blooded brethren. Saya still feeds on blood, but she hasn’t murdered anyone for them. It does open a small plot hole as to how and when she stopped aging, or if she ages rather slowly but I was willing to overlook this minor gap. The direction by Chris Nohan does also capture the mood, the tone and the atmosphere of the Japanese anime. The film also features several scenes that are reminiscent of the anime film; the film’s opening act carries a lot of nostalgia for its fans as well as the scene in the file room. Some kill scenes and death scenes look like they came from the anime.

under fire

Now, granted, this is an action-fantasy film; so does “Blood the Last Vampire” deliver in the action sequences? Yes and No. Yes: There is a lot of action and the fight choreography by Corey Yuen is pretty stylish, cool and intense at times. The use of the usual wire-fu is inherent in the film’s fights. There is a lot of slashing and dicing done by lovely Jeon Ji-Hyeon. The film’s fights are full of cool posturing complete with moody stares; it does have a similar attitude to its source material. The fights have that usual bone-crushing impact and stylish swordplay. No: As cool as the film’s fight sequences were, they aren’t really very different from those seen before and offers very little that is fresh or inventive. The camerawork needed to hang back a little so the viewer can see the moves; I don’t mind the occasional slow-motion as long as it is done right, but the editing had a few missteps that there was a scene with a truck on the cliff that Saya is seen with her sword then Alice tosses it to her--Flawed editing truly hurts an action film.

subway scene

The film has its share of blood and gore, but most of them were CGI-enhanced. I thought this ruined the film’s tone, the anime had the signature Japanese arterial spray-blood splattering effects, why did the filmmakers resort to cheap CGI? The film’s fights would have felt more faithful to the anime if it utilized red ink and prosthetics. Also, the CGI-generated monsters look very cheap and rather fake; a clear indication of its limited budget. The final encounter between Saya and Onigen may also seems a little underwhelming, but keep in mind that there is an implied twist; Onigen wants Saya to embrace her demonic background. The encounter does look nifty, that seems to take place in a dream-like plane of existence but I thought it was a little too short. Koyuki is so beautiful as the evil Onigen.


The film does have its share of weaknesses in the screenplay, it may prove to be downright predictable. The film does establish the links between Saya and Onigen, and you can see the twist from a mile away. I suppose that the direction didn’t put too much foreshadowing in its delivery; that any secrets is meant to be as such. I just found it a little hard to believe that the so-called twist wasn’t found out within 400 years. Also, Saya’s friendship with Alice felt a little too forced. Alice (played by Allison Miller) obviously was only meant as a plot device to establish some human friendship. Saya is handled by an elder named Michael (Liam Cunningham) and he was a little underused, but I thought Kato (Yasuaki Kurata) added a lot of needed depth to the film‘s story. The ‘council’ itself is a bit more fleshed out as a group of different individuals with different beliefs. The question does become asked; after Saya has killed most of the demons and vampires--what is to become of her? She is what she hunts, although she isn’t without a conscience and a soul.

Koyuki as Onigen

Overall, the film does have some missteps, but it did do a lot more things right than wrong. “Blood the Last Vampire” will no means become a classic;  while I did believe that while it should have been better, I was very thankful that the film wasn’t a failure. The action scenes does have its share of weaknesses, but they were acceptable for this type of film with a limited budget; the action is better compared to those done in “Catwoman“ and other Hollywood action flicks. The CGI-enhanced monsters and blood effects hampered the film’s fight sequences and I wished for the traditional red ink. The film does fulfill the needs of the main character's development that Saya becomes one very compelling individual. Plus, Jeon Ji-Hyeon does look convincing as a vampire-hunting school girl. The film is aimed towards fans of the anime, it does capture the mood, the tone and the attitude of the source material.

I was just happy that U.S. filmmakers didn’t massacre the anime’s spirit, that this Americanized version carried enough of the Japanese style and attitude.

Recommended timidly, Rent it first! [3 Out of 5 Stars]

Movie Poster Jeon Ji-Hyeon as Saya Saya and Onigen Saya subway scene Kato under fire Koyuki as Onigen

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June 14, 2010
I liked this one man and dare I say I liked the anime as well, but neither is a classic.
July 26, 2009
How did I manage to skip over this review? Thanks for calling my attention to it. Its definitely going on my list and hopefully it'll have a DVD release in the near future.
July 26, 2009
I managed to see it last July 11 on a limited release. I have a strong feeling that you will like this one.
July 26, 2009
Should be months then before its released, at best.
August 23, 2009
I looked it up...The Japanese and Asian releases are due on October, the U.S. release by December...
August 23, 2009
Not too bad.
More Blood: The Last Vampire (2009 ... reviews
Quick Tip by . April 24, 2010
Terrible storytelling, sub-par acting, dull action, and bad special effects. This one just grated my nerves. I'll have to see the anime now.
review by . October 16, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Blood: The Last Vampire is your typical b-movie action fare that pales in comparison to some of the more recent wild films coming out of Japan. The film could have benefitted from the addition of more over the top gore .What blood and gore there is on screen is entirely CGI for sure, and bad CGI at that; characters are sliced and diced, blood gushing from their bodies, but none of it looks real, plus Saya, (Jeon Ji-Hyeon), a 400 year old half human, half-vampire who was sired by a human demon/vampire …
Quick Tip by . November 22, 2009
Caught it on DVD, & I was intrigued. Lots of pop, flash & samurai swordplay but not backed by much substance. A harmless diversion at best.
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William ()
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About this movie


Live-action movie based on the anime. Released on a limited engagement on July 10, 2009 in San Francisco.

The deadliest assassin to stand the test of time. From a Producer of Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon comes Blood: The Last Vampire, based on the cult hit anime series. Demons have infested Earth. And only one warrior stands between the dark and the light: Saya, a half-human, half-vampire samurai who preys on those who feast on human blood. Joining forces with the shadowy society known as the Council, Saya is dispatched to an American military base, where an intense series of sword fights leads her to the deadliest vampire of all. And now after 400 years, Saya's greatest hunt is about to begin.
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Genre: Action, Horror
Release Date: July 10, 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 91 minutes

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