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Underworld: Evolution
2006 - R - 119 Mins.
Director: Len Wiseman
Producer: Skip Williamson
Written By: Len Wiseman, Danny McBridge
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman
Review by: Harrison Cheung
   
Sequel to the vampire chic hit of 2003, ‘Underworld: Evolution’ is a disappointing flick that takes its story line way too seriously. The first movie was a fun ‘Matrix-meets-Dracula’ action flick. But this movie over-mines the vampires versus werewolves origin story into its own biblical proportions with echoes of Cain versus Abel and Shakespearean tragedy.

Kate Beckinsale stars again as Celine, a death dealer. In the first movie, she was like the vampire secret agent/assassin, hunting down and killing werewolves, called Lycan. But most of the time, she spent voguing in skintight black leather outfits, posing with two guns a la 1980s vintage John Woo. Scott Speedman returns as Michael, the hapless human who discovers that he’s the first vampire/Lycan hybrid. Like the first movie, Speedman has little to do except take off his shirt and flex in his Hulk-lite make-up.

Beckinsale and Speedman have a steamy mainstream sex scene that, according to Internet gossip, was digitally cleaned-up. (It must have been interesting on set, as Beckinsale’s real life husband, Len Wiseman, was the director!) How and why Celine falls for Speedman’s character isn’t explained – especially since, in the first movie, the vampires were big fascist snobs, especially regarding species, blood and pedigree.

The first movie ended with Celine on the vampire’s most wanted list after she kills off one of the vampire elders over a complicated political betrayal. There is only one other elder left – Marcus – so at the beginning of the sequel, Celine and Michael set off to find him. But Marcus ends up being a winged-bat-out-of-hell with his own treacherous agenda and extraordinary powers since he himself is a hybrid. Marcus has his own plans; he wants to free his twin brother, Vicktor, the first Lycan, who had been imprisoned by his father, Corvinus, centuries ago.

Aside from the complicated back-story told in a number of jarring flashbacks, ‘Underworld: Evolution’ does have many fight scenes but with the ‘Crouching Tiger’ martial arts choreography and camera work so out of fashion now, the battles seem sterile and overly staged. There’s also what I think is a racist discrimination between the vampires and the lycan. Vampires are all Euro-chic in their black leather outfits, yachts and high tech weapons, while lycans are howling creatures. Given their common ancestry, according to the movie, there’s a strange message here.

It’s disappointing how this sequel has taken vampire lore way too seriously. There are no surprised here – just lengthy explanations. It reminded me of ‘The Matrix’ sequels which took great pains to explain its philosophies. Simplicity or a better script would have made the story more compelling rather than a lengthy history text book. The ‘Blade’ trilogy was a much more successful blend of elements that ‘Underworld’ tries for.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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