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Hollywood Product August 07 2002

Blade Trinity

Genre: Comic book noise fest

Opens: Now playing

The pitch: In his third outing, half-breed vampire slayer Blade (Wesley Snipes) reluctantly teams with junior troubleshooters Abigail Whistler ("Seventh Heaven's" Jessica Biel) and Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds) to fight the reincarnation of Dracula (Dominic Purcell) — who prefers to be called "Drake."

Body count: At least nine vampires and six humans die in the first 15 minutes. After that, it's impossible to keep track. The cool thing is, since vampires disintegrate upon death, pretty much every action scene ends with something — or someone — blowing up.

Money shots: In the opening traffic chase, Blade drives out the back of a truck and over a tail-gating car. Drake's satanic — but seldom seen — true visage. Abigail's archery or kung fu ass-kicking.

Flesh factor: When Abigail takes her requisite shower, she curls up in a modest, concealing pose, like she's in a commercial for skin lotion.

Best line: "You made a goddamn vampire Pomeranian?" King exclaims, marveling at the film's cleverest touch, a hinge-jawed lapdog.

Creative casting: Parker Posey, of all people, puts on fangs to play jaded, bitchy bloodsucker Danica Talos. Other paycheck-cashing supporting players include Eric Bogosian, Natasha Lyonne and Kris Kristofferson.

Product placement: Drake contemplates Count Chocula breakfast cereal when he visits a goth boutique.

Fashion statements: Snipes seldom appears without his wraparound shades and a floor-length leather jacket with crimson lining. Since villainous vamps are usually Euro-trash in these films, Drake favors open shirts and neck chains, like a bouncer at a Serbian disco.

Inside joke: King hands Blade a copy of Tomb of Dracula, the short-lived Marvel comic book from the 1970s that introduced the Blade character.

Better than the previous?: Yes and no. Debut director David Goyer wrote all three Blade films and improves on the sleek, empty music video of the first, but falls short of the gothic, propulsive video game of the second. Though more gritty and humorous, Blade Trinity tries too hard to be edgy.

The bottom line: Whenever the characters aren't trying to kill each other, they walk in slow motion toward the camera — it's that kind of movie. Buff Biel and wisecracking Reynolds handily upstage Snipes, but Blade Trinity provides the minimum requirement of movie mayhem.

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