"Blood: The Last Vampire" Delivers Swords, Schoolgirls, and 1970s Angst

In Blood: The Last Vampire, a sword-toting, half-demon schoolgirl matriculates into high school on a US military base in 1970s Japan. She's there to whack some demons, fry your eyeballs in their sockets, and entertain the hell out of you.

Sort of like a mix of Buffy, Vampire Hunter D, and Abel Ferrara's version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (which also takes place on a military base), Blood is a ninja romp with style. Saya is a half-demon who has been a schoolgirl for seemingly hundreds of years, working occasionally with the mysterious "Council" to off evil creatures who walk among humans. In particular, these demons seem to enjoy impersonating teenagers, high school teachers, and members of the US military stationed in Japan. Which kind of makes sense, actually.

From the moment Saya arrives at the base high school, we know awesomeness will ensue. We've already seen that the kids at the school are racist and mean, making fun of Soya's soon-to-be-bestie Alice and calling everyone who isn't American a "Jap." The 1970s setting adds an extra dimension of weird to the movie. We know that the Vietnam War is happening off-screen, and it gives the Council members - who pretend to be CIA - an air of retro creepiness. Plus Alice is always sneaking off to groovy rock concerts, and Saya to her probably seems like just another far-out, glam creature - Grace Slick with a sword.

"Blood: The Last Vampire" Delivers Swords, Schoolgirls, and 1970s Angst

Based on a popular manga of the same name, Blood is a thoroughly international production. It was written by Chris Chow (scribe behind Jet Li's Fearless) directed by a crazy French guy named Chris Nahon, and stars Korean pop idol Gianna Jun as Saya the half-demon schoolgirl. Soya's sidekick Alice is played by American Allison Miller, most recently seen in the short-lived TV series Kings. And most of the movie is in English.

When Alice discovers that her classmates are demons, and then her father is murdered by a Council member gone rogue, Alice goes rogue herself. She sees Saya doing mega-sword fighting with an entire bar full of demons and decides to team up with the monstery loner to fight bad guys. Who exactly the bad guys are is a little unclear. Obviously the demons are bad, as are the military people who cover up her father's death. Also the council guys are bad too.

So everybody is bad, which is great because we get more scenes of Saya kicking and swording the shit out of everybody. Though this movie clocks in at a modest 90 minutes, even I have to admit that some of the fight scenes were a bit too long. I love monsters fighting monsters, and schoolgirls fighting vampires, but endlessly slicing people's faces in two - sigh. Especially when the blood all looks like the zero-G blood from Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country. Big pellets of CGI goop erupting from monster necks, gullets, arms, whatevers? Cool the first time, but a bit wearying after a while.

Eventually it emerges that there is a really, really, really bad person named Onigen (whom I kept thinking was named Onigiri, which made me hungry). And Saya is off to kill Onigen, who is like the Big Bad of the demon world and also killed Saya's dad.

The flick may be cheesy, but the team behind Blood pulls out all the stops and manages to have a final showdown almost worthy of (dare I say it?) Swordsman II. Well OK, it was a pale echo of Swordsman II, but it still gave me that warm, happy feeling that comes from watching demonic ladies with swords floating and zooming and stabbing and screaming mean things at each other.

If nothing else, Blood is a nice antidote to your Twilight blues. No shiny vampires here, and all the girls have traded their mopey diaries for samurai swords.

Blood opens tonight in select theaters in the United States.