It’s called “Blood,” but it’s not to to be confused with the “Blood: The Last Vampire” anime or its live-action adaptation.
In “Shinobi” director Ten Shimoyama’s 2009 film, the murder of a maid in the home of a woman named Miyako (Aya Sugimoto) remains a cold case for several years until hotshot Detective Hoshino (Kanji Tsuda) makes a last-ditch investigation effort before the matter expires.
He’s captivated by Miyako, and who wouldn’t be? Your TV screen hasn’t seen as Asian woman this sultry — and, let’s admit it, this voluptuous — since Chingmy Yau in 1992’s aptly named “Naked Killer.” But it’s also because, unbeknownst to Hoshino, she’s a vampire. Miyako fingers the blame on a hedge fund manager (Jun Kaname), who jealously vies with Hoshino to be her forever-after victim. Out come the swords.
Immediately, Shimoyama establishes a look for “Blood” that is dark and seductive. Snowflakes fall at a visually poetic rate, recalling “Lady Snowblood” (or, for that matter, Quentin Tarantino’s homage to such in “Kill Bill: Vol. 1″). Imperfect but above-average special effects adhere to its rich, slick color palette.
The story comes peppered with bursts that action that incorporate a proper amount of martial arts without getting hokey, while the several sex scenes are actually erotic, like “True Blood” if it were totally stripped of its camp and Harlequin romance elements. The gorgeous Sugimoto certainly isn’t inhibited in her performance; the woman gets — how you say? — kneaded like bread dough. Call it gratuitous if you must, but the vampire, as it was created in literature centuries ago, was always meant to be a sexual creature, not a brooding, emo kid with cool hair.
“Blood” isn’t for everyone — for one thing, the titular liquid spurts and gurgles in gallons throughout — but for Asian cinema fans craving something different and decidedly adult, this comes recommended. —Rod Lott