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Blade (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Blade’s a very nice pick from Warner Bros to push to the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray for an upgrade. It seems sort of random, being that its now turned 22, but anytime is a good time for a 4K Blade. One wishes that they had just done the trilogy and put that out. Maybe this will be like The Matrix a few years back where the first one came out and then months later they did a full set. Though, it they want to put out just the second one and take their time with the third, I’ll be fine and understand. There aren’t any new bonus features, but they have given the film an upgrade in the audio department with a bursting new Atmos track. This was released back on December 1st. You can order using the paid Amazon Associates link following the review.

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Film

A half-mortal, half-immortal is out to avenge his mother’s death and rid the world of vampires. The modern-day technologically advanced vampires he is going after are in search of his special blood type needed to summon an evil god who plays a key role in their plan to execute the human race.

I fell in love with Blade in the late summer of 1998 from the opening scene. Fondly, I remember checking out on a late night Saturday screening opening weekend. It went from being the “Oh yeah, let’s go check out that new Blade movie tonight” to “HOLY CRAP THAT MOVIE RULED!”. Never in a million years had a I expected the movie to rock me and engage me as it had. I barely knew it was based on a comic book character, too. Wesley Snipes was the draw. He was a household name with a strong action pedigree and this time at the movies, I was going to watch him kick vampire ass on the big screen.

Said opening sequence is a doozy. You know the one? Where vampire Traci Lords leads a dude into a very 90s underground club with a vampire rave party? Yeah. Its awesome. Blood showers through the sprinkler system and then Blade shows up and just slices, dices, kicks, punches and just whoops all sorts of ass. This scene is one of the most ultimate opening statements on a character I’ve ever seen. Nothing says this guy is awesome better than a scene like this. Still to this day it works. And I always reach back into my mind and find that memory of sitting in my seat with my jaw open dumb struck at its awesomeness opening weekend.

The film is far more than that opening scene. And honestly, it felt like it did a lot for vampires and vampire movies that hadn’t been on the big screen display. There’s the way the vampires are and handle their business that feels largely influential on everything from the Underworld movies to Twilight. You have an old guard, perfectly cast and represented by Udo Kier, versus new, a very 90s Deacon Frost as done by Stephen Dorff. They have their secret society relationship with the upper 1% of the world and then there’s the eternal struggle of the aggress youth who want to tear it all down. Its a common generational tale but done in perfect rhythm with its time and place.

One of the key ingredients that helps Blade work is that its not afraid of being and never forgets that its a horror movie. Fitting that this would be a superhero comic embraced by New Line Cinema. There are genuine sequences of horror in the film, it relishes in the R rating and showcases plenty of respectable gore and blood. The action in the film is merely a method. Blade might have a lot of sword play and bullets blazing, but it also has some creepy as hell characters and genuine moments of great terror and suspense.

Returning to Blade knowing that Marvel plans on relaunching him has me wondering how the hell they are gonna pull it off. There’s a lot that makes up Blade that scares or goes against how Marvel operates. And I also feel that Blade becomes less cool when you add him into a pool of other superheroes. Like, Spidey swings by and high fives him, it kills his mystique and demeanor. They certainly have the perfect actor cast. I’m happy to be proven wrong, but Blade seems to operate best when he’s the baddest dude  in the room, the building, the city, the state, the globe.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 1080p.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/DetailBlade’s debut on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray is every bit a statement as its opening scene in the film. The native 4K title looks so fresh, clean and new. It has a great cinematic look and feels like the scale of it has even jumped ahead some. Sure, some of the special effects in certain spots may hit at age, but everything going on is so good its not a bother. The image is sharp with loads of details and lots of texture to sink your fangs into.

Depth:  The depth of field on the film is really terrific, with good pushback on interiors and the scale of the city really looming large and tall above the clouds. Movements are confident, smooth and never have any issues with jitter or blur.

Black Levels:  Blacks are very natural and deep. There are lovely shadows and nighttime scenes on display in the film. Despite how dark, textures, patterns and follicles showcase through clearly. No crushing in frame found at all.

Color Reproduction:  Its a dark movie, but fire, light displays, tail lights, signs, lasers and more pop off the screen with the HDR. Many of the regular colors are bold and full looking in the image. Whites come across with lots of tints and flavor.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures are discernible from any given distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD core), French 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital, Czech 2.0 Dolby Digital, Polish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Portuguese, Spanish, Czech, Polish

Dynamics: As impressive the video, the Atmos track really kicks some more ass. This is a very engaging track that shows you what its made of right from the opening. There is a great, layered balance on display in the film. Sounds are distinct and every environment really comes to live and puts you in the middle of some vampire action.

Height: This one has plenty of fun up time. It doesn’t overdo it, but always makes sure the ceiling channels can participate in the action. Debris falling, people jumping above camera, bullets whizzing and more.

Low Frequency Extension:  This one takes the subwoofer and pounds when the action hits via explosion, fire, impaling, gunfire, glass shatter, engine revving and much more. The film delivers quite the force.

Surround Sound Presentation:  This one zips and zaps around the room. It always knows and paints a clear picture, aware of what is off screen and where something on screen may move to once an angle changes. Rolling sound is tremendous and moves with good force and accuracy.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are loud, clear and crisp. Always feeling apart of the room.

Extras

Blade comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a redeemable digital code for the film. The only new features is an Isolated Score track with commentary from the composer.

4K UHD

Audio Commentary

  • With Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, David Goyer, Theo Van De Sande, Kirk M. Petruccelli & Peter Frankfurt
  • Isolated Scored with Commentary by Composer Mark Isham

Blu-ray

La Magra (SD, 14:08)

Designing Blade (SD, 22:31)

Origins of Blade: A Look at Dark Comics (SD, 12:10)

The Blood Tide (SD, 20:02)

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:09)

Summary

Its 22 years later and Blade still rocks and stands tall among the majority of what would come after it spawned in the generation of Marvel movies. Stephen Norrington’s film makes quite a stunning debut on the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format with perfection in terms of audio and video presentation. From the second this thing starts, you’re going to be impressed. Unfortunately nothing really significant is added in terms of bonus features, but the film’s visual and sound upgrade is worth a day 1 purchase.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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