What do you get when you mix the vampire carnage of the Blade films, with the high-octane action of The Fast and the Furious franchise? If it’s competently done, I’d imagine something pretty damned entertaining. In this case, however, you get something like The Bleeding, a mishmash of stale ideas and concepts edited together like a junior high AV project, and featuring the most wooden hero this side of Pinnochio.
Shawn Black (Michael Matthias) is a man who’s lost everything. After his brother’s death in Afghanistan, the subsequent theft of his body, and the brutal slaying of his parents, Shawn’s been seeking out those responsible. Hoping to find an answer with a tattoo artist named Tagg (DMX), Shawn is introduced to an underworld of vampires as well as his role in their destruction. You see, Shawn comes from a long line of vampire slayers, and, for him to truly understand his “gifts”, Tagg sends him off to see Father Roy (Michael Madsen), who arms him with both the weapons and the knowledge to take down the merciless vampire boss, Cain (Vinnie Jones in a fright wig). Along the way, Shawn discovers more about himself than he bargained for, as he learns he has more in common with Cain than he could possibly imagine.
The Bleeding is a bad movie. It’s not even entertainingly bad. It’s just bad bad - a cobbled-together mess of clichéd action set pieces, macho dialogue, A.D.D. editing, and amateurish direction by stuntman-turned-director, Charlie Picerni. Most of the cast you see credited on the box – Madsen, Jones, DMX, Kat Von D, Armande Assante – turn in little more than glorified cameos, leaving it up to the muscular meat slab that is Matthias to carry the film on his massive shoulders. Unfortunately, Matthias has all of the charisma of a toilet wand, and barely a fraction of its versatility. His face is seemingly frozen in a perpetual scowl that suggests either intense concentration or severe constipation, while he grunts his lines in a gravelly, sleep-inducing monotone that sounds like an unholy union of Vin Diesel and the Bill Swerski’s Superfans sketch from Saturday Night Live (DA Bears!). Next to pseudo-celebrities like reality star, Von D (who plays Cain’s vampire bride), and UFC hottie, Rachel Leah, Matthias just barely holds his own, but, when paired with actors like Assante or Madsen – both fine thespians, albeit ones with questionable career decisions – Matthias is hopelessly outclassed. Writer, Lance Lane, doesn’t do Matthias any favors, either, saddling the novice actor with endless streams of wooden dialogue, much of which comes in the guise of “hard-boiled” style narration that Matthias recites with all of the enthusiasm of a man dictating his grocery list.
You’d think that a film directed by a stuntman would at least feature…you know…GOOD STUNTS, but The Bleeding doesn’t even get that right. Instead, the fight scenes and myriad car chases are so choppily edited that one can’t make heads or tails of what’s actually going on. By the third act, I was consumed with the desire to eject the disc from my player and fling it off into the night, but I soldiered on to the very end, in hopes that, somehow, The Bleeding would offer me something – anything – positive to say about it. Sadly, that was not to be.
The Bleeding comes to DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay and is presented in a 2.35:1 widescreen transfer. The image quality is fairly inconsistent, but that’s obviously the fault of the source material. The various filters applied to the film range from the sickly green pall of the Saw films to oversaturated blues and reds that amp up the noise substantially, making some of the darker sequences look as though you’re watching the film through a swarm of tsetse flies. The 5.1 Dolby soundtrack is a bombastic affair, with the score and sound effects mixed well above the dialogue at times, making it difficult to discern what’s being said. The surrounds offer a few directional cues, but much of the mix is confined to the center channel, with the subwoofer carrying the majority of the load.
Extras include three very short featurettes – Cast Interviews, Make-Up and Effects, and Stunts – all of which can be seen in twenty minutes or so. Also included is the film’s “theatrical” trailer, as well as trailers for other Anchor Bay releases.