Blade is a 1998 vampire action film starring Wesley Snipes and Stephen Dorff, loosely based on the Marvel Comics character Blade. The film was directed by Stephen Norrington and written by David S. Goyer. Snipes plays Blade, a half-human and half-vampire who protects humans against vampires. Blade grossed $70 million at the U.S. box office, and $131.2 million worldwide. Two sequels, Blade II and Blade: Trinity, were subsequently produced.
The movie begins with a flashback of a pregnant woman being hospitalized after being bitten by, as one of the doctors said, some kind of wild animal. In the process of trying to revive her, she gives birth to her baby boy and dies. The next scene proceeds to the present and continues with a seductive woman bringing an unsuspecting man to a strange nightclub. As the scene progresses, the man realizes something is amiss in the club yet cannot quite discern why. However, his fears are soon confirmed when blood begins to pour down from the sprinkler system (signifying blood raining from the heavens, one of the signs of the apocalypse, as profiled in “The Book of the Damned”). Then it is revealed that the club’s patrons are vampires. Unable to escape from the hideous creatures which have now surrounded him, the young man seems doomed until one of the vampires notices an individual who has just entered, whom he calls “The Daywalker.”
Blade (Wesley Snipes) coolly enters the main dance floor, wreaking havoc amongst the vampire crowd. He immediately begins a no-holds-barred slaughter of the vampires, using a combination of martial arts and firearms to pick them off. Eventually, after fighting his way through numerous guards, Blade singles out one vampire in particular named Quinn (Donal Logue), nailing him to the wall with stakes and setting him alight. Upon hearing police sirens, Blade turns to Quinn and tells him “Give my regards to Frost”, leaving a burnt Quinn along with the confused human as the only surviving inhabitants of his attack. The police take Quinn’s crisp remains and send them for identification.
Doctor Karen Jenson (N’Bushe Wright) is the unlucky individual who performs the examination on Quinn’s “corpse”. During the examination, Quinn shockingly returns to life and feeds on both Jenson and her co-worker. However, Blade enters the morgue, having pre-supposed that Quinn would come back. He attacks the rejuvenated vampire, but is yet again forced to flee when the police arrive. As he makes to leave, Blade sees a bleeding Doctor Jensen lying on the floor, beckoning for him to help her. Due to the doctor’s similarity to Blade’s mother, he rescues Jensen and they head back to his base of operations. Quinn also escapes.
The scene changes to the meeting room of The House of Erebus, a vampire Shadow Council. The Elder Dragonetti (Udo Kier) discusses Blade’s recent intensified attacks, and berates a young Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) for his recklessness in running these clubs. During this scene, there is a short explanation of vampire politics – most vampires believe that they should more or less co-exist with the humans (maintaining a secret, Mafia-like power cabal), while renegades such as Frost believe they should rule them outright. It is also established that there is some stigma from “pure-blood” vampires (i.e. those who are born vampires) towards those born human and later turned into vampires.
The storyline switches back to Blade’s lair, where Jenson meets Abraham Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), Blade’s mentor and weapons technician in their fight against vampire-kind. Whistler delivers a small speech outlining Blade’s past, their current mission and the nature of vampires, along with the power they hold in the outside world. Jenson decides to head home, although Blade reminds her it is a possibility that, due to Quinn’s bite, she too may become a vampire. It is also established in this scene that Blade is a half-vampire, and requires a serum to prevent his need to drink blood. Jenson begins to work on a permanent cure for the vampire condition, using Whistler’s research as her starting ground.
Upon arriving in her apartment, Jenson is assaulted by a policeman who is revealed to be a familiar – a human being who serves vampires (a collaborator, essentially, that after years of service might get rewarded by being turned into a vampire). Blade rescues Jenson, and later follows the familiar back to another club of Frost’s, there discovering that Frost has plans involving a vampire blood-god named La Magra. The officer is killed by Frost at a party thrown by Deacon. Blade and Karen proceed to interrogate a comically obese vampire named Pearl. Blade and Karen kill Pearl with a UV-Lamp, searing the vampire’s flesh and turning him to ash. Blade and Karen enter the vampire library but are ambushed by Quinn and Frost’s henchmen, along with Mercury (Played by Arly Jover), a love interest for Deacon. Although Blade and Jenson are assaulted by Frost’s private army, they escape due to the timely arrival of Whistler.
However, shortly after this, Frost makes a second strike. While Blade heads out to fetch the ingredients for his serum, Frost abducts Dr. Jenson from the lair and badly beats Whistler, leaving Quinn and the rest of his crew to finish him off. Upon Blade’s return, he finds a taunting video left from Frost. In a poignant scene, Blade aids a bleeding Whistler in suicide (Blade hears a gunshot from outside, but does not see it happen). Stricken with grief, Blade vows to find and kill Frost. During this time, Frost kills Elder Dragonetti by subjecting him to a sunrise, and forcibly gathers the other members of the Shadow Council as “volunteers”.
Blade arms himself for a raid on Frost’s base, taking along with him specially-designed pneumatic syringes loaded with EDTA (normally used as a blood thinner to clear blood clots in the heart, which has a highly volatile reaction to vampire blood). During his attack on the base, Blade fights his way through a horde of vampires, yet discovers a horrible truth once he reaches the top floor of the building. He learns that his mother (the pregnant woman from the flashback scene) did not in fact die, and is now Frost’s vampire mistress, as it was Frost himself who had bitten his mother during her pregnancy. Overcome with shock, Blade is easily subdued by the guards, who knock him out and take him to the Temple of Eternal Night, where Frost reveals the final stages of his plan – Using his resources and vast wealth, Frost has managed to rebuild the temple and intends to use it for La Magra’s resurrection, a key ingredient of which is Blade’s sunlight-resistant vampiric blood, along with the sacrifice of the other twelve council members (Ashe, Cianteto, Dragonetti, Faustinas who held two seats, Ligaroo, Lemure, Kobejitsu, Lobishomen, Von Esper, Upier, and Pallintine). Through the ritual Frost becomes an eminently more powerful vampire, far surpassing any other vampire’s strength or speed, and gains the powers and attributes of each sacrificed member, including immunity to silver, instant regeneration of lost limbs, superior strength and speed, red bulging eyes (from the Kobejitsu tribe), and the ability to walk during the day (from Blade’s blood).
With Dr. Jenson’s intervention Blade breaks free from his sacrificial housing, killing his mother and nearly draining Dr. Jenson to renew his strength. After Blade disposes of Frost’s minions, including the death of Quinn and Mercury, the two meet for one final climactic battle at the base of the temple. Upon discovering that Frost cannot be killed by any conventional means, Blade empties every single EDTA syringe he has on Frost (who is now constituted entirely of vampire blood), causing his body to swell and explode.
Climbing out from the underground temple, Karen offers Blade her cure. Blade refuses, because “curing” him of his need for blood would also remove his Daywalker powers and he would be unable to hunt vampires, and he requests that she make him a better serum, reminding her that “there’s still a war going on”. The final scene shows Blade in Moscow, hunting down and killing a Russian vampire who persuaded a human to follow him to a vampire club. This sets the stage for the second film.