One common drawback among most movies based on properties, (especially video games) is that they unwittingly betray the core principles of those properties. Adapting some of this stuff certainly isn’t easy. Much of it doesn’t translate to film. Or sometimes a story is too simple to stretch 90 minutes out of. It’s understandable that a movie based on a story told in another medium isn’t going to be exactly the same for a variety of reasons. But on the other hand, it’s a two-edged sword. Often times things are so far away from the source material, one has to wonder why bother naming a movie after it at all whatsoever. Over the last 20 years we’ve seen Super Mario Brothers, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Double Dragon, Tomb Raider, Dead or Alive, House Of The Dead, Dungeon Siege, Alone In The Dark, Bloodrayne, and even Resident Evil (Which they did a seemingly endless number of entries on) turned into films. Many of them very bad, and having little to nothing to do with the games they were named after.
PROS: The animation is fluid, and detailed. Characterizations are spot on.
CONS: The story is a departure from the video game. It also has trouble staying coherent.
ADV: The movie’s publisher went belly up in 2009. The movie was re-released that same year.
In the case of these game to film conversions (With the exception of SMB) they were multi platform games with wide appeal. Many were on arcades, and home platforms, while others were on several consoles, and computer platforms. SiN was solely released on Windows-based computers back in 1998. While it reviewed fairly well, it was still a few years before anime house, ADV decided to actively get the license from Ritual Entertainment for a SiN anime. SiN has some really beautiful artwork, and animation in it. As far as the accurate depictions of the characters from the game are concerned, it gets them mostly right most of the time.
ADV had the script for the movie written, and acted stateside, while they had a few animators in Japan do the animation.
The movie opens up at a funeral. It turns out JC Armack from the game has died, and Blade is at the funeral with an older gentleman. As the priest is going through the funeral prayer succession, Blade begins to have flashbacks that set up just how JC died. As the flashback begins we can also hear police radio chatter describing that people are mysteriously being kidnapped.
We cut to a police chase as Blade, JC, and HardCORPS (The police group from the game) are chasing down a monster who has kidnapped a little girl.After the majority of their vehicles are totaled Blade, and JC follow the monster into the sewers.JC sees a red glow coming from one of the pipes, and he finds the girl in front of an odd colored blob.Before the girl can finish warning him, the blob assimilates JC, and attacks Blade.With no other options, JC tells Blade to kill him, as the monster finishes assimilating him.Blade shoots JC in the face, and right out of this drastic change to the story set up in the game, we get our opening credits. After some impressive looking title cards the movie takes us back to Blade, talking to an old man while a woman in a car looks at them. She swears under her breath before the movie screen wipes to SinTek.
Elexis Sinclaire is called on a com channel by her henchmen. She argues with them, and fires some of them after she tells them that they cannot use her mutants as toys. She leaves what appears to be an incubation chamber, where a man (Presumably a boyfriend) tells her he wants to go with her, and she tells him only if he can keep up with her. He tells her it’s a date, and we have another screen wipe.
In the next scene we’re back in HardCORPS where we see the woman who was in the car at the funeral storm in. She is greeted by a police officer who tries, and fails to be suave with her, and then tries to tell her she can’t just barge in. She reveals herself to be in a higher level of jurisdiction, and then begins to ream Blade verbally. Why? Because apparently she blames him for the death of her brother (Who we later confirm is JC). She also demands to take the girl they saved from the mutant in the flashback segment we opened with. But the Doctor (Who we have yet to see) has told HardCORPS she can’t be moved yet because of the stress of the situation. JC’s Sister also accuses Blade of having ties to the mafia.
We then have another flashback, where Blade is talking with another man on the steps of a building, where they are both gunned down. As they fall the other man drops what appears to be a ZIP disk (Remember those?), which the shooters steal, and run off with.
In the next scene we see a ship called the Prometheus.
Aboard the ship Elexis is making time with her boyfriend we saw in her last scene. It turns out that his name is Vincent. Once again her henchmen interrupt her on a com channel while Vincent practically begs for intercourse. The com channel displays a large chunk of the Middle East being overrun by the monsters we saw in the beginning of the movie. Elexis tells Vincent to consider the footage to be like foreplay before she gives Vincent a glass of wine. Before drinking it, she talks a little about the drug she made to turn humans into mutant killers, which is sort of what she did in the video game. Vincent being an idiot, doesn’t see how transparently evil his boss, and lover is. He drinks the wine only to find he’s been poisoned. We cut to a different spot on the ship, to find Vincent on an operating table. Elexis reminds Vincent that he had said he wanted to be part of her plot before cutting into him. As he screams we pan out from the ship, and wipe to HardCORPS.
Blade talks to the doctor who had been put in place of looking after the child they saved.The doctor tells Blade that he found something odd about the girl’s blood.While this is going on, we get ANOTHER flashback. This time it’s the child’s.She remembers her adoptive parents talking about how special she is, and we learn her name is Elise. Around this time, JC’s sister comes back, brooding, and angry. The doctor tells her instead of harboring ill will over Blade’s head, she should be like her brother who would have worried more about solving these cases involving monsters.
We cut to a gory monster fight scene, where it turns out the orphan girl Elise is in one of these monsters. It kills an entire platoon of cops, and when Blade sees this she smiles. One of the cops shoots it in the torso but it regenerates. While this is going on Vincent is looking for Elise, in HardCORPS. Vincent slaughters a bunch of cops before being confronted by JC’s sister. The playboy cop from before shows up, and shoots a rocket into Vincent, but is quickly assimilated. JC’s sister is too afraid to shoot Vincent, so Tim (It isn’t until this moment the movie decides to tell us his name.) Stabs himself to death so the assimilation cannot be completed.
Blade, the doctor, and crew come back to find Tim dead, and that somehow they know Vincent is Vincent Mancini (The character who robbed the bank in the SiN game).Also the way it is spoken here you would have had to have played the game to get the reference. It’s also confusing because up until now he was called Vincent, but here they only reference him by his last name. But I digress.
It turns out Elise was assimilated because JC’s sister couldn’t get to her in time. The doctor pulls up more of his research to tell Blade that these monsters can regenerate but aren’t invincible. But the monsters are only one human genome from both being invincible, and bridging the gap between their human, and monster forms. It is here that JC’s Sister just happens to know that Ciro Sinclaire was a mad scientist who came fairly close to pulling this off. The Dr. doesn’t believe this right away, but then JC’s sister brings up the fact his daughter Elexis has the financial resources, and motive to continue his work to pull this off. So everyone decides to reconvene to discuss a plan to go after Elexis, and SinTek. (Except for JC’s sister because we need a gratuitous shower scene. Why? Probably because they thought copying the Chun Li clip from the Street Fighter anime movie would be a capital idea.)
One of the Justices in Freeport however, tells the police chief that HardCORPS isn’t allowed to go after SinTek even though they have enough evidence to prosecute, and arrest Elexis Sinclaire. After arguing with him, the police chief fires Blade, and makes him turn in his badge. Blade talks with the old man from the beginning of the movie who wants Blade to come with him. Blade refuses to so the old guy explains that while SinTek has moles in Government, and companies that Blade’s father had managed to get moles inside of SinTek. These moles found a way to stop SinTek’s monsters from gaining power, but didn’t know how effective their weapon would be.
He explains that Blade’s dad had died protecting it, and gives the finished serum capsules to Blade. Blade’s comrades then decide to defy their boss, and help Blade go after SinTek to rescue Elise. While on their way, Elexis describes to Elise how the authorities took down her father for his mad science. After her parents were gunned down, Elexis decided to continue his research, while at the same time destroying his estate, and any evidence of his work’s existence.
She begins to experiment more on Elise, as HardCORPS band of rogue cops use a cloaking device.
Cutting back to Elexis, she goes on about how Elise is the only one of five experimental attempts that came out perfectly. As this happens JC’s sister, and Blade manage to sneak in off of the cloaked chopper. Elexis’ henchmen spot the breach, and so Elexis releases all of the monsters at SinTek’s disposal. Blade’s father’s antidote bullets seem to work though, as the monsters cannot regenerate.
During the skirmish Blade goes out onto the side of the SinTek tower, and climbs up. As he does another monster climbs after him. He manages to defeat it, and get back inside. When he does Vincent is waiting for him, and due to his much thicker skin Blade’s bullets won’t penetrate him. Vincent then does a violent, and gory number on Blade. He skewers him, throws him all about the room (Which is surprisingly elegant for a mad scientist’s base of operations).
Vincent even knocks a chandelier down on top of Blade. JC’s sister shows up to distract Vincent, and it is here where Blade uses a live wire to electrocute him. Vincent then grows into an even stronger monster, and chokes Blade out. But before Vincent can kill him, he pulls a dagger out of his wrist Wolverine style, and stabs the material from his special bullets into Vincent’s neck which finally kills him.
Blade, and JC’s sister make it to Elise, but Elexis shows up to pull a glass cylinder around the three of them, and fills it with poison gas. She then talks about how Blade’s survival from being gunned down years ago was thanks to SinTek’s technology. Conveniently, it is here the helicopter pilot just happens to pull a chunk of the wall out which breaks the glass encasements allowing Blade, and the others to live. But Elexis is angered, and frees a final monster to do her bidding. It’s her father. Blade gets his ass handed to him, and knocked seemingly unconscious. But he then remembers his father telling him eons ago to “Use their own technology against them”
Blade leaps up off the ground, punches the monster in the face, and detonates his cybernetic hand which severely injures the monster. The monster then grows to epic proportions as if it were Tetsuo from the end of Akira. This gives JC’s sister enough time to remotely fire a laser from an off site location that saws the SinTek building in half, as well as the monster in half. This causes the building to explode. Elexis presumably fall to her demise. Blade somehow manages to catch JC, Elise, plus miraculously land inside the orbiting helicopter to go back to HardCORPS safe, and sound just in the nick of time.
Would I call this a bad movie? Yes. It’s not the worst movie I’ve seen, but it does have some major problems. Some things are never explained. Some things like the contrived ending are just pulled out of the proverbial ass which lead to more questions. Like if JC’s sister had this mega ray of death this whole time, why didn’t she use it forever ago? It was established she was already investigating SinTek, and knew what Elexis was up to. She could have blown up the building long before she even had to worry about losing Elise to SinTek earlier. Speaking of JC’s sister, why did they even need to introduce her? It feels like the makers of the film just wanted to give Blade some sort of love interest, so they killed off his comrade, and replaced him with his comrade’s sister. Moreover, when you get to the end credits they even went as far as to tell us her initials are ALSO JC. Another nitpick is the lack of SinTek henchmen. NONE of the bad ass gun-toting soldiers under SinTek’s employment in the game are to be found here. Neither are it’s Strogg inspired cyborgs.
Watching the extras, some of the developers at Ritual said in an interview that they liked this tie-in, and to be fair there are some things to like. The artwork is cool, the fight scenes are easy to follow, and I’ll admit they even seemed to get the characterizations right most of the time. But at the same time some of the problems are too big to overlook, especially the way they did the end sequence. I’m sure being on the internet, some really, really astute viewer may find a point or two to correct me on, but my opinion stands.
As an action romp it’s barely passable. Yet it can fun at times. Some of the animation is really impressive, and most of the voice acting isn’t half bad. The characters generally behave the way you would expect, aside from the major change of JC’s early demise. But the story has too many contrivances, and unanswered questions to make sense. That’s a big problem for not only fans of the game, but for general audiences who stumble upon the movie. While better than many game tie-ins it still falls woefully short of true greatness.
Final Score: 4 out of 10 (For HardCORPS fans only)