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'Blood: The Last Vampire'

Also reviewed: 'Weather Girl'

July 10, 2009|Michael Ordona; Glenn Whipp

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

Even when one adjusts expectations for an English-language adaptation of an anime adaptation of a manga, shot as a Michael Bay knockoff by a French video director, the often-unwatchably dim "Blood: The Last Vampire" doesn't convey much of anything. That's "dim" in many senses. The supposed plot involves a beautiful half-human, half-vampire government agent hunting demons in Japan with her American schoolgirl sidekick during the Vietnam War. If you're going "Huh?" already, just wait.

Vampires and demons hang out in sunlight and have no specified powers or limitations. There are long, imponderably shot, sped-up and edited martial-arts fights. The dialogue is of the ilk of "Everything according to plan?" The sidekick is superfluous and largely reduced to screaming and whimpering throughout. Director Chris Nahon ("Kiss of the Dragon") jumbles together the usual batch of silly macho stereotypes (sunglasses at night, you know the type) and stock sequences with a visual palette ranging from barely visible black to impenetrable black. The exercise filches shamelessly from "300," "Star Wars," "The Matrix" and countless kung-fu movies.

"Blood's" only surprise is that the filmmakers landed Gianna (also known as Gianna Jun, or Jeon Ji-hyun) for the lead. The South Korean megastar proves a more-than-capable action heroine, despite the creative detritus around which she has to navigate.

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Michael Ordona

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"Blood: The Last Vampire." MPAA rating: R for strong bloody stylized violence. Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes. At the Mann Chinese 6 in Hollywood; the Bridge in Westchester; University Town Center 6 in Irvine.

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Forecast is mild and pleasant

You can reliably forecast most of the beats in Blayne Weaver's breezy romantic comedy "Weather Girl," but that doesn't diminish the small pleasures the movie delivers.

Sitcom vet Tricia O'Kelley brings an appealing brittleness to Sylvia, the "sassy weather girl" (a promotional reference much loathed by Sylvia) on a Seattle morning talk show. Sylvia loses her job after finding out that boyfriend Dale, the show's preening co-host (Mark Harmon), has been cheating on her. Sylvia's on-air rant makes her a minor celebrity but torpedoes her career.

The 35-year-old Sylvia soon takes up with her little bro's best friend, Byron (Patrick J. Adams), promising each other that they're in it for the sex -- no obligations, no complications. Since the movie's genre is all about the complications, we know the deal will be upended.

Writer-director Weaver toys with the older-woman/younger-guy dynamic, but Sylvia's character isn't realized enough for it to stick. "Weather Girl" coasts on the charms of its ensemble, which includes brief, funny turns from Jane Lynch and Jon Cryer. Harmon's a standout, turning his "walking haircut" into a sad sack who's rendered clueless by too many years of forced banter.

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Glenn Whipp --

"Weather Girl." MPAA rating: R for language. Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.

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