Requested by DarkCoast, the studio behind this film! (Not Sponsored)
This is a first for me! Normally, I just pull a movie basically out of a hat, review that, and hope you guys like it. This time, however, an opportunity came knocking at my door! DarkCoast emailed me, asking to review this week’s movie: ‘Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids’!
I honestly had no idea what to expect, going into this movie. It certainly seemed interesting; I’m always a sucker for a martial arts movie. Still, I went in with tempered expectations.
Little did I know that I’d find one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve seen in a while!
Now, to dissuade you from thinking that I’m acting in DarkCoast’s pocket, let me make two things clear. One: I’m not getting paid. And two: this isn’t a quote ‘good’ movie. The dialogue is rough, the acting is awkward, the pacing is strange and confusing, and the editing is just… so indescribably bad! Although to be fair, the cinematography is pretty good and the fight scenes are fun. I’ll go into more detail on all that later.
So why do I say that I enjoy this movie? Two reasons. One, I love ‘so bad they’re good’ movies. And two: it’s clear that everyone involved in the making of this film was passionate about what they were doing! I honestly feel bad criticizing this movie, because it’s clear that they were all giving it one-hundred percent!
Let me make this clear. I’m not going to rip into this movie to be a bully. Everything I’m going to say in this review, positive and negative, is intended to be constructive. My love for this film is going to be a tough one. I’m going to be rough on it to help them improve as much as I can. I’m mean because I care.
Alright, that’s enough rambling. Let’s talk about the actual movie now, shall we?
Story: Hunting the Hunters
This movie can best be described as a paradox. It’s bad, yet it’s great. It makes sense, yet it doesn’t. That applies to every category I usually talk about. None more so than the story.
Gabriella used to be a police officer with a loving husband and a son. But when a cannibalistic monster named Naga consumes them both, she gives it all up for a life of revenge. To claim her vengeance, she joins the Blood Hunters, a group of skilled warriors out to murder the monstrous aswang. But when Naga teams up with an equally powerful monster, their hunt for collective revenge may prove to be difficult.
Buckle up, ladies and gentlemen. Because I’m gonna be thorough on this one.
Let’s start with the characters. These are a mixed bag, mostly because there are just too many of them for a movie with such a short runtime! The heroes are all fine characters if a bit flat in the personality department. Gabriella is edgy but optimistic, Bolo is just flat out edgy, Max and Kali are a sassy couple, so on and so forth. They’re not all that deep, but they get the job done.
But the villains are kind of just… there. Their personalities boil down to ‘sadistic asshole’ and their backstories/motivations don’t exist. It doesn’t help that they don’t have much screentime to develop them. All they really do to antagonize our protagonists outside of their backstory is show up, stand there, and laugh at them at the beginning!
I mean, that’s hilarious! But it’s not all that menacing.
Speaking of the beginning, let’s talk about this movie’s pacing! Once again, it’s a paradox. It’s simultaneously moving super slowly and extremely quickly! The first half is spent introducing our characters and setting up the conflict. That’s about half an hour right there. I’d say it’s pretty boring if it weren’t for the hilarious dialogue, featuring what may be my favorite line in cinematic history: “I sense a trap. A complex one.”
I had to pause the movie when that happened because I was laughing too hard!
Then the second half is all action! No, that’s not hyperbole! Literally, the last forty fucking minutes of this movie is spent with non-stop fighting! It just leaps from fight scene to fight scene! It’s at this point that the movie drops the narrative altogether and just becomes an action demo for the actors!
Granted, the movie tries to keep the story moving with two plot ‘twists’ near the end. Unfortunately, neither one makes any sense! They’re not foreshadowed at all in the previous scenes and come out of nowhere just to be shocking! You can’t just throw a twist at the audience just to be surprising! You need to put in subtle hints to push the audience in the right direction without giving it away!
The story itself is pretty underwhelming. The characters spend the first half planning out what will happen. Then in the second half, those things happen. The few surprises we get are underwhelming and nonsensical. The characters are flat and the antagonists were forgettable. It’s a very flat, predictable story.
So again: why do I like it? Well, the main reason is that it’s hysterical! The dialogue makes no fucking sense and it’s hilarious! Plus, it’s clear that everyone involved, from the writers to the actors, had a ton of fun making this movie! Their energy is infectious! So, while this movie may not be professionally put together, it’s still damn enjoyable to watch!
The worst thing a movie can be is boring. Thankfully, this movie is anything but!
Except for the very beginning. Here’s a little hint: never open your movie up with an exposition dump. It didn’t work in the Lord of the Rings movies and those movies are incredible! You need to establish the context in the story itself. If you exposit at your audience right off the bat, you risk losing them. That or the information will go through one ear and out the other.
Then there’s the ending, where we get a sequel tease! And I’ve never wanted a sequel to something so badly in my life!
Presentation: Huh. This actually looks pretty good.
Honestly, I wasn’t expecting this movie to look all that great. But to my surprise, it actually has some pretty solid production values! The cinematography is nice, the sets all look nice, and the makeup is effective and convincing! Unfortunately, it’s dragged down by lackluster CGI, bizarre editing, iffy fight choreography, and some of the most confusing transitions I’ve ever seen in a movie!
Let’s get the negatives right out of the way, starting with the CGI. This is probably the least offensive. Out of the whole film, only one shot is made entirely of CGI. Personally, I think that you could cut it out and you’d lose nothing. You can also cut that strange blur effect that all of the bad guys have while they’re fighting. It doesn’t look cool; it’s just jarring and distracting.
Speaking of action, let’s talk about the choreography. It feels distinctly clunky and repetitive. You’ll see a lot of the same kicks and knife slashes over and over again, especially in the second half. For every hit that’s convincing and carries a ton of impact, there’s one that just feels weak and fake. It doesn’t help that the sound effects don’t always align with what you’re seeing on-screen.
But then you watch them throw each other through walls and the walls fucking shatter and it’s amazing. So I can give it a pass.
And then there are the transitions. Normally, you’d end a scene and just cut straight to the next one. This movie, however, decides to take a more… unique approach. There are these jarring, comic-book style transition screens. Granted, they don’t look terrible. But… why? Why not just cut? I don’t get it.
The editing in this movie is also super bizarre! Sometimes it’ll cut mid-scene to something completely unrelated! Sometimes characters will react to lines of dialogue before the other character even speaks! In the end, it all technically comes together. But it’s clear that it could’ve used some extra time in the editing room.
Granted, some of those cuts had me crying from laughter. But my point still stands.
Aside from… all that… that, this movie looks pretty good! There are some visually appealing shots sprinkled throughout. All the costumes look pretty good, so it’s clear that the costume and makeup crews were doing a great job. The music, while a bit forgettable, does the job and does it well. This isn’t a bad looking movie. Just a sloppy one.
Performances: Hamming it Up
Holy shit, these guys make the movie! It’s like if Tommy Wiseau played every single part in an action movie and I love it! Everyone’s clearly having a lot of fun and it saves the whole thing!
To be fair, though, these guys clearly have the martial arts skills. Sarah Chang, who plays Gabriella, is an international martial arts champion! Their skills are the real deal, and they show in their performances. They sell the action scenes really well.
Although the extras do have a hard time keeping up.
Also, I love the actor for Naga! Not because he’s good, mind you. I can’t understand a damn word he’s saying! I found myself laughing like a fucking lunatic whenever he was on screen because our main character was just reacting to gibberish! I get that he was going for an accent of some kind, but it just doesn’t work!
Everyone else in the movie is just as hilarious, though. Not a single line is delivered naturally! Granted, that could be because of the script. But it just comes across as everyone hamming it up. It’s like watching a high school play. They’re not good. But they’re so energetic and excited that you can’t help but love it anyway!
The movie in a nutshell.
Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had with a movie in a long time! Sure, it opens on a weak note. But it quickly becomes one of the funniest, most enjoyable martial arts movies I’ve ever seen!
I mentioned earlier that they teased a sequel. I also mentioned that I want that to happen more than anything! This is exactly why I’d highly recommend you watch this movie! Grab some beers and snacks and make a party out of it! You’ll have a damn fun time!
Hell, you probably won’t even need the beers.