East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Fearless vampire killers: Priest (2011)

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A post-apocalyptic cyberpunk western vampire movie? Why not?
The world is currently obsessing about other movies and TV series, but I like the idea of finally watching movies and shows I missed when they first came out.
Priest, from 2011, is one of these.

Based on a Korean comic-book series, the movie follows the most cliché plot possible: vampires kidnap young girl, her uncle the vampire-killer goes back into business for one last job, with the help of the girl’s boyfriend.

The whole set-up feels like a checklist of already-seen stuff:

  • weird inhuman vampire critters? check
  • vampire hive with cave-like structure? check
  • desert landscapes? check
  • holy order of vampire killers disbanded because they are no longer needed? check
  • evil and/or indifferent church state? check
  • silent/brooding hero? check
  • kickass female supporting heroine? check
  • plucky damsel in distress? check
  • badass vampire master who is also the hero’s former best friend that was left behind during that fateful last job and the hero’s been having bad dreams and misgivings about it all these years? check!
Priest – Priestess (Maggie Q) © 2011 Screen Gems

What Priest has going for it is a great cast – featuring Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Lily Collins, Cam Gigandet and Maggie Q, plus Brad Dourif, Christopher Plummer and Alan Dale in supporting roles – and the setting that mixes bleak futuristic urban landscapes and even bleaker post-apocalyptic wastelands, and that reminded me strongly of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s Vampire Hunter D.

So yes, it’s terribly derivative, but as a time-waster on a rainy Saturday afternoon it works. It looks great, it has a couple of great action pieces and it doesn’t overstay its welcome. It would make for a great pilot for a series, but apparently any plan for a sequel were dropped when the movie failed to make a splash upon its release.
A pity, really, because its ugly, eyeless vampires and western/cyberpunk venue would have been a refreshing treat in a TV schedule that’s overflowing with zombies.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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