Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids (2019)

Rating: 7/10

Alien-werewolf-vampires called Naga have invaded Earth to feed on the unsuspecting and the only protection humanity has is a group of people who call themselves Blood Hunters. They pledge their life to the cause of eradicating this force in any way they can.

I grew up in the 90s. I mention this because during that time it seemed like every month you’d get an action movie with Jackie Chan or Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Sylvester Stallone, and I don’t remember who else at the moment. But in between those movies, you’d also get the cheesy, independant, action films that were basically trying to copy the bigger budget films. Usually involving as much explosions and gunfire as the budget could afford. And then Blade came out and most of these also involved katanas and swordplay as well. But they would usually have pretty bad acting and storylines that fell apart if you held even a candle to them. Still, I’d eat these up like candy always looking for gold amidst the trash.

This reminds me of one of those cheesy, 90s, action flicks. It’s not nearly as bad as some of those films, but it still has a lot of the same qualities. I’d say that the worst part about this movie is the dialogue. Being that there’s almost no characterization, though one character gets a tiny backstory that does pay off later, there’s still little to really make me feel anything for our main characters and the struggles they have as they battle this supernatural threat. And, truthfully, the threat isn’t really that threatening. The Naga seem to prey almost exclusively on people stuck out in the woods, people who might have just run into a bear and been mauled anyway. I mean, they’re still evil, but this isn’t like they’re stopping them from taking over the world or anything.

This movie might not have much in the ways of story and characters, but it really shines in two places. The first is the action, which is a lot better than those independent action movies where people tended to think they could just flail their arms around as people fell down around them and it would look cool in the film (it didn’t). Here they’ve been expertly choreographed to create some pretty cool martial arts throughout the film, about the same quality as you’d expect from a show like Arrow or Daredevil where action is as much a storytelling device as anything else.

The other area that really comes through is the cinematography. The movie is introduced through narration over a comic or manga style art sequence, and the camerawork keeps that same artistic style throughout the entire film. It makes for some very captivating shots that rivals that of the Marvel movies. It perfectly captures the tone of the rest of the film.

SCORING:

+7.5: This is maybe a bit high as growing up with films like this makes this a sort of guilty pleasure for me, but the action was as good as Blood Sport with a dash of Blade thrown in and though the characters weren’t extremely fleshed out or anything, it’s not a necessity for action films

-1.5: The characters all fall flat. I still would have liked to have someone to root for or relate to, even if it’s not entirely necessary for a film like this, this movie in particular would have greatly benefitted from a clearer main character instead of jumping around like it does between people so we never really get a sense of who anyone is

+1: The action and cinematography were both pretty great throughout the film

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