Movie Review: UNDERWORLDLakeshore Entertainment
2003
R

“I am the Death Dealer, sworn to destroy those known as the Lychans. Our war has waged for centuries, unseen by human eyes. But that is all about to change.”

For centuries, and unseen by human eyes, a war (huh! Good gawd, y’all) has raged between stylin’ trendy-wear Vampires and grungy rock n’ roll Werewolves. And like all war feuds that last over the course of centuries (the Hatfields vs. the McCoys, Montagues vs. the Capulets, Less Filling vs. Tastes Great), hardly anyone remembers, let alone knows, what this whole thing started up about. All Selene knows is that werewolves killed her family, and she allowed herself to be turned into a vampire to get eternal revenge against the creatures. Or so she thinks. It’s not until she runs into a human that the Lychans are trying to get that she discovers a conspiracy between the vampire clan leader and the leader of the Lychans, and the horrible truth concerning the death of Selene’s family that horrible night. Lotsa bullets fly, lotsa leather is worn, and lotsa bodies hit the floor…

I know what you’re thinking. That Underworld was more of an action flick with vamps and werewolves than a true horror movie. With that, I agree with you whole-heartedly. Within the first fifteen minutes or so, comparisons to Blade and The Matrix (basically the opening subway battle scene seems custom-ripped from The Matrix) can be felt, and really, that’s not a bad thing. Very action-packed, with some gnarly weapons that capitalized on both species weaknesses. But before you begin thinking that this is just another cinematic deja-vu trip, I must point out that, amidst all the action there is a deeper plot line that plays out in the movie’s middle part. It’s very Shakespearian in its execution: Betrayal, conspiracies, forbidden love, skeletons popping out of the closet at inopportune times…I dug on the little twists and discoveries made in the plot. As such, instead of getting a clear-cut Good Guy vs. Bad Guy scenario, you begin to wonder about who’s right and who’s wrong. Me, I personally went with the Lychans, as they were more of the underdogs (no pun intended there), and the Vamps just came off as whiney rich brats with pale faces and fangs. Throw in a crossbreeding angle, and you have a pretty well-rounded plot that kept me interested the entire time.

Mind you, Underworld doesn’t really reinvent the whole Vampire / Werewolf genre wheel, but it does give it a good hard spin. It’s not perfect, and there could have been more throw downs between the vamps and the lychans instead of following around Kate Beckinsale’s leather-clad behind the whole time (not that there’s anything wrong with that…I wasn’t complaining, really). But, as a whole, Underworld succeeded with a premise that could have failed miserably. Highly recommended…

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