In the Underworld, Vampires are a secret clan of modern aristocratic sophisticates whose mortal enemies are the Lycans (werewolves), a shrewd gang of street thugs who prowl the city's underbelly. No one knows the origin of their bitter blood feud, but the balance of power between them turns even bloodier when a beautiful young Vampire warrior and a newly-turned Lycan with a mysterious past fall in love. Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman star in this modern-day, action-packed tale of ruthless intrigue and forbidden passion all set against the dazzling backdrop of a timeless, Gothic metropolis.
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Blade meets The Crow and The Matrix in Underworld, a hybrid thriller that rewrites the rulebook on werewolves and vampires. It's a "cuisinart" movie (blend a lot of familiar ideas and hope something interesting happens) in which immortal vampire "death dealers" wage an ancient war against "Lycans" (werewolves), who've got centuries of revenge--and some rather ambitious genetic experiments--on their lycanthropic agenda. Given his preoccupation with gloomy architecture (mostly filmed in Budapest, Hungary), frenetic mayhem and gothic costuming, it's no surprise that first-time director Len Wiseman gained experience in TV commercials and the art departments of Godzilla, Men in Black, and Independence Day. His work is all surface, no substance, filled with derivative, grand-scale action as conflicted vampire Selene (Kate Beckinsale, who later became engaged to Wiseman) struggles to rescue an ill-fated human (Scott Speedman) from Lycan transformation. It's great looking all the way, and a guaranteed treat for horror buffs, who will eagerly dissect its many strengths and weaknesses. --Jeff ShannonAdditional Features:
The Underworld DVD has a powerful soundtrack that makes good use of ambient noises (e.g., bullet casings pinging on the floor) and has a clear, well-defined picture, which is especially impressive considering the film's predominant look is black leather at nighttime. The first segment of the four-part, 54-minute documentary is mostly self-congratulation and plot summary (though in this case plot summary is not necessarily a bad thing); more interesting are the creature effects and the actors learning how to do their own stunts. If you were wondering if the voice of the Lycan Raze was really that deep, you can listen to him--actor/co-writer Kevin Grevioux--along with director Len Wiseman and co-writer Danny McBride on the first commentary track as they discuss breaking the rulebook for vampires and shooting in Budapest on a tiny $22 million budget. The accent-heavy technical commentary discusses how the visual effects and sound design add to the film--one of their goals was to make Kate Beckinsale look "sexy, stylish, and subversive." --David Horiuchi
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