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The Breed (2001)

An interesting vampire movie, set in an oppressive, Soviet-style America which borrows slightly from the look of Brazil. Cop Steve Grant (Bokeem Woodbine), angered by the death of his partner (Reed Diamond) during a tussle with a super-powered murderer, is partnered with pencil-moustached Jewish vampire Aaron Grey (Adrian Paul), who represents an undead faction which would like to broker a treaty of co-existence with regular humanity. Accusing Grant of being a racist for his instinctive dislike of vampires, who can now survive on a blood substitute devised by community leader Cross (Peter Halasz), Grey helps the cop track the rogue vampire killer, who seems to be stirring up trouble between the two breeds of humanity. Along the way, Grant becomes intimate with the spectacularly strange Lucy Westenra (Bai Ling), who lives in a mansion with her vampire panther pet, and encounters a variety of bloodsucking oddballs, before learning that perfidious and possibly genocidal schemes are afoot in both human and vampire camps.

Though obviously modelled on the mismatched fantasy-cop sub-genre (Alien Nation, Dead Heat), The Breed creates an interesting futureworld, using Hungarian locations and Eastern bloc art direction and uniforms to depict an unusual America while staging fairly effective John Woo-like flying-through-the-air-all-guns-blazing action scenes. Woodbine's regular human hero is the weakest link, making less of an impression than the quickly-killed Diamond, who seems to be recreating his Homicide: Life on the Street role. Paul, star of the TV Highlander spin-off, plays another immortal haunted by historical flashbacks (to World War Two); he manages to invest a potential caricature with wry humour and surprising depth. Screenwriter Christos N. Gage reuses a gruesome gag from his Teenage Caveman cable TV script, with the hero sticking a grenade into a superhuman villain's ripped-open stomach, knowing the wound will heal over instantly, preventing the baddie from getting rid of the bomb before its messy detonation. Directed by Michael Oblowitz.

First published in this form here.

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