by David Blackwell
The trailer had me excited to see this movie about vampires vs. werewolves (Lycans), and I'm glad I was impressed by one
of the best genre movies of 2003. UNDERWORLD starts with Selene (Kate Beckinsale) , a death dealer who kills Lycans for the
vampires. She relates the stiory of the blood fued between the vampires and werewolves that has lasted for centuries as vampires
are trying to hunt werewolves until none are left. She and her fellow death dealers spot some Lycans and track them down into
the subway. A fight ensues as the werwolves fire on the vampires first. One of her fellow death dealers is killed by a UV
bullet. She follows the werewolves into the subway tunnels and runs when she knows another death dealer is killed (and she
comes near a room of Lycans).
She gets back to the mansion where all the local vampires reside. She tries to tell the local vampire in charge, Kraven
(Shane Brolly), that something is up and she wants to investigate, but Kraven is too concerned with power and decadence to
care (or is there something more that he knows). Selene looks over the pictures one of her fellow death dealers have taken,
and she discovers the Lycans were after a human named Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman). She goes to find Corvin despite Kraven
wanting her to dress up for the arrival of an elder, Amelia, who is going to wake up the next elder, Marcus.
Selene goes in search of Michael who she save from the Lycans, but he gets biten by a werewolf leader (who is supposed
to be killed by Kraven), Lucian (Michael Sheen) , who bites Michael to get a sample of his blood which is supposedly able
to take the Lycan and vammpire strains without dying. Things build from there as Selene figures out what is going on as she
decides to wake an elder, Victor (Bill Nighy), early to help her against Kraven.
UNDERWORLD is an impressive film from the characters, the visuals, the way the world is painted in detail from the costumes
to background history to the blood memory scenes, and the performance of Kate Beckinsale as Selene. Kate sells Selene as someone
who lives only to kill the Lycans. Selene is repressed in her emotions except for teh one of rage. She is single minded in
her quest to hunt down and kill all Lycans until Michael. Before that, she doesn't question the motives of what she is doing
because Victor would have always believed in what she is doing where Kraven doesn't want her to dig too deep and find out
he is a traitor.
The movie does have layers to it and supporting characters that help drive the plot like Erika (Sophia Myles) who is jealous
of Kraven's affections for Selene (who doesn't want anything to do with Kraven's affections) and the Lycan scientist who is
working for Lucian.
Director Len Wiseman does great job as a first time director on a $20 million dollar budget. I say UNDERWORLD is far more
impressive than BLADE and BLADE II (even though I like both of those movies). UNDERWORLD combines drama and action easily
within one movie. The movie kept me glued because I didn't want to miss one detail. Danny McBride and Len Wiseman came up
with a story that is better than some of the other vampire movies. Maybe some people were disappointed by the movie because
they were expecting a movie more like BLADE or some other vampire movie.
There may be some cliches in this movie, but the story and characters overcome it. FYI, Kate Beckinsale was involved with
fellow actor Michael Sheen to get involved with (and marry) the director of this movie. I don't care if one hate sthis movie
because I love it. I was left with a big WOW after the movie ended. Not many movies have that type of an impact on me.
I can't wait for the sequels because I want to see what happens to Selene next and see what has happened before in the
past (since one of the sequels is a prequel). Bring on the sequels soon because I will see them as long as they are impressive
this review is (c)2003 David Blackwell.
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