The live-action movie opens just like the anime: with Saya battling a vampire on a deserted subway car, leaving a carcas for her handler, Michael (Liam Cunningham), and the other MIBs to clean up. However, since the original anime film is less than 50 minutes long, we soon journey into new territory to pad the movie out to feature length. Saya, going undercover as a student in the base's high school, gets an American partner in crime when she saves fellow student Alice (Allison Miller) from a pair of demons.
Now fully exposed to this supernatural war and with nowhere to turn after her father, an Air Force general, is killed in the action, Alice vows to help Saya any way she can. Not that Saya needs much help, of course. Her superhuman physical ability and old school martial arts training (revealed via flashbacks) make her an awesome weapon capable of taking on 20 enemies at a time. Alice comes in handy, though, and eventually Saya does track down Onigen for one final showdown, slaying her own personal demons along the way.
The End Product
The writing deserves some of the blame. Given the Buffy-like concept of a vampire-hunting schoolgirl, you'd think there'd be some level of humor involved, but Blood remains deathly serious throughout. Exploration of the Vietnam setting or the titular "last vampire" concept could've provided some much-needed depth to the story, but again those opportunities are missed. (In the anime, Saya was the last of the "original" vampires; no such mention is made in the live-action version.)
Perhaps the most egregious choice, however, is the over-reliance on digital effects. Despite a substantial amount of bloodshed, it appears that blood squibs were not an option in the making of this film. The old school arterial spray of Japanese cult movies of the past few decades (co-opted by Quentin Tarantino in Kill Bill) would seem like a perfect fit for the abundant violence in Blood, but instead we get "new school" CGI blood time and time again, sterilizing what could've been a visceral gallery of violence. Maybe if the CGI were of Hollywood blockbuster quality, it wouldn't be so distracting, but it's more akin to a Sci Fi Channel movie of the week, making the filmmakers' decision to show the demons transform into completely CGI bat creatures all the more painful to watch.
Despite its flaws, though, Blood: The Last Vampire remains a visual spectacle, thanks to frenetic action and a myriad of settings ranging from subways and airplanes to high school gyms and back alleys to forests and rocky cliffs. It's rarely dull, with six or seven action set pieces -- two in particular showcasing action director Corey Yuen's talent for intricately planned symphonies of violence: Saya saving Alice from a horde of demons in a bar and a flashback to Saya and her kung fu master's battle against vampire ninjas. (Sadly, the climactic battle is a disappointment.) At its best, the film is stylish and action-packed, combining expert martial arts choreography with an over-the-top supernatural flair -- like Kill Bill with a vampire bite.