FEBRUARY 27, 2011
On paper, the basic concept behind The Bleeding is fine: take an over-muscled tough guy not unlike (read: borderline plagiarized from) Vin Diesel's character in the Fast & Furious films and put him in a vampire/action hybrid. Should be perfectly enjoyable B-movie fun, right? Well, the makers (or the financiers) of the movie must have been hell-bent on making sure that they never even came close to achieving that level of entertainment, which is probably why it's been on the shelf for 2-3 years.
The biggest problem is the near total lack of action. I was worried right from the start, as the movie (after a fairly cool opening credits sequence) started with what was obviously the film's climax. There are only two reasons to do this in a movie; one is to toy with the audience, and present the scene in a whole new light once you have the additional information that the movie provided (Usual Suspects is a good example). The other is to simply pad out a short running time and make up for the lack of any action in the first half. Guess which category this movie falls under, with a running time of 82 minutes and a plot that can basically be boiled down to "Meathead kills some vampires"?
Instead, we just get a lot of padding, and thus a lot of boredom. Our hero (Michael Matthias, who makes Diesel look like he's got the range of John Hawkes or someone) is prone to driving around, looking fondly at his town's waterfront or something, and then driving away, or providing voiceover consisting of bible passages laced with tough guy profanity. Most insulting is when Michael Madsen (the film's lone bright spot, unless you count the very lovely Rachelle Leah) asks our hero to, you know, kill vampires. Matthias says no, then wanders around the woods for what seems like a full five minutes before (spoiler) deciding he will indeed kill vampires. There's also a scene with Armand Assante that seems transplanted from another movie entirely (Assante is in the one scene and never mentioned again).
It's also loaded with inane editing, particularly in the first act, that suggests perhaps the film was re-edited in post (hey, it's been on the shelf for years, might as well play around with it). It's difficult to tell what is happening in the past or in the present, and Matthias' voice-over often seems added to sum up deleted scenes and plot points, particularly the Afghanistan based back-story that is crucial to the creation of the film's villain (Vinnie Jones) but is treated like an afterthought. I also love when DMX (!) informs us that vampires "hunt alone" and then they cut to a shot of 3-4 vampires hunting together. The idiotic "let's play the ending of the movie!" concept also spoils the death of Leah's friend - not that it was a major shock, but she doesn't die until nearly the end of the film. Maybe they thought we'd forget about it by the time she got around to dying?
Then again, you can't really blame them for wanting to use this sequence twice, because it's the only time the movie becomes sort of fun. It's essentially the climax of Road Warrior, but at night (not enough car chases at night, in my opinion) and with vampires instead of crazy gang dudes. The film was directed by veteran stunt guru Charles Picerni, so he ensures a lot of cool acrobatics and even a few good shots (love the sideways-traveling truck passing over the camera), and I laughed like a loon at Matthias standing on top of his barely in-control truck shooting two guns without being affected by gravity or any of that silly stuff. Honestly if the movie was just 82 minutes of this, I would have loved it. Unfortunately it's very brief, and they stupidly killed off Madsen and his partner, making it a suspense-less battle. At least if Madsen and the other guy were around, we could tense up whenever they were in danger, as there was a chance they might die (unlike Matthias and Leah), but no - they blew themselves up before the chase even began.
And can we do away with the "vampires in a nightclub" concept? Blade cornered the market on that over a decade ago, and since every action/vampire movie since has pretty much sucked, no one has forgotten about it. We also haven't forgotten the horrors of Van Helsing, so why they outfitted Jones in a nearly identical getup is beyond me (dig his long hair though).
The disc has a few brief extras, which seem to have been created for a website or something due to their brevity and basic worthlessness. One has some interviews with the cast (including Assante, who does nothing to dispel my belief that he was from a different movie by talking about how these guys have a "code" and such), one covers the stunts, and another features the makeup, including footage of Kat Von D, a horribly unappealing woman that is featured front and center on the DVD box despite having a role in the film that's essentially that of a glorified background extra.
It's never a good thing when you sit down WANTING a brainless B-movie to enjoy and it can't even deliver. I hate to be too harsh on it because I can almost guarantee that the script was probably a good read, and again it shows signs of post-production tinkering. Alas, Matthias' woeful performance and a fatal lack of action (or even some tension - you can save all the action for the end as long as you're building suspense, like Executive Decision) overpower what little is left to enjoy. Wait for Fast Five and/or Underworld 4.
What say you?