Director: Anna Foerster
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Lara Pulver, Tobias Menzies, Bradley James, James Faulkner, Charles Dance
Runtime: 1 hr 32 mins
Rating: M18 (Violence)
Released By: Sony Pictures Singapore
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/UnderworldMovie
Opening Day: 1 December 2016
Synopsis: The next installment in the blockbuster franchise, UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS follows Vampire death dealer, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) as she fends off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her. With her only allies, David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Charles Dance), she must stop the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice.
While Sony’s blockbuster slate has been pretty sluggish in the box office, their horror label Screen Gems has enjoyed better success from low-budgeted thrillers like Don’t Breathe and two popular franchises, Resident Evil and Underworld -the former releasing its sixth and final chapter next January and Kate Beckinsale reprising her role as death dealer Selene for the fifth time in the latter.
Picking up after the events of Underworld: Awakening which sees the birth of Selene’s hybrid daughter, Eve. Underworld: Blood Wars opens with Selene being haunted by her own kind and Lycans as both sides are out to seek the blood of Eve. The Vampires are losing the war as the Lycans clan led by Marius (Tobias Menzies from Game of Thrones) is getting stronger by the day. On the pretext of seeking assistance from Selene, the scheming Semira (Lara Pulver) approaches her help to train a new batch of death dealers. Unbeknownst to her, an internal rife is brewing and Selene’s only ally happens to be David (Theo James from Divergent), the son of Vampire Elder, Thomas (Charles Dance from Games of Thrones yet again).
German-born cinematographer (White House Down) and TV director (Outlander, Criminal Minds) Anna Foerster takes over the directing duties for this instalment. It is frankly a thankless task to take over a franchise that hardly wins over the critics over the years but Foerster does a commendable job balancing the story and insane action sets. For the relatively brief running time, Foerster and her screenwriters Cory Goodman (The Last Witch Hunter) and Kyle Ward (Machete Kills) provides the various lead characters enough exposition and screentime for audiences to connect the dots at least for the first 45 minutes.
Besides being a family member to Selene, David is also on a journey to find out his true birth heritage that concerns his mysterious mother who left him after childbirth. The ambitious Semira and her aide cum lover Varga (Bradley James) plots to conquer the Vampire faction and Selene is constantly battling her own inner demons. On the Lycan side, the powerful Lycan leader Marius has a dark secret of his own. We are even introduced to the mysterious vampires residing in the cold Nordic coven. Honestly, you can’t really blame the franchise for not trying to expand the Vampire mythos which in actual fact it actually does.
For Underworld fans who are hungry for more blood and gore, Underworld: Blood Wars has no lack of it. The last 45 minutes is an action-packed bloodletting orgy of sorts. Heads are sliced, countless shots are fired and it even boasts a WTF moment when two leads start firing at each other at close range. It’s great to see some slick action choreography being displayed particularly the scene where Selene battles the transformed Marius on top of a frozen seabed.
Obviously because of time constraint and budget, CGI is favored over animatronic effects for the Lycans, which accounts for the weakest aspect of all. There is decent cinematography, excellent location shoot in Prague and rather impressive set designs. Best of all, Kate Beckinsale remains the draw in her ass-tight spandex. She seems not have aged a day since she first played Selene in the original 2004’s Underworld, such that one wonders if she is really a death dealer in reality. For a dumb action fantasy, Underworld: Blood Wars certainly entertains, and obviously the franchise is very much opened to further developments.
(Belongs to the so bad it’s good camp. I’m loving it)
Review by Linus Tee