The third film in the (ongoing?) Bloodrayne series of video game adaptation once again puts the enigmatic Uwe Boll in the director's chair to an hour and a half's worth of tits, blood and Nazis. If that sounds like your idea of a good time, read on - there's something to be said for Boll's gleefully exploitative tendencies and like many of his 'better' films, this recent offering is pretty damn entertaining. If you're not appreciative of his style or his traits at this point in the game, however, Bloodrayne: Third Reich will not do anything to sway your opinion.
In the opening sequence, we witness the Nazis shipping a trainload of Jewish prisoners to a death camp when, as they open the doors to unload their cargo, much to their surprise they're attacked by a group of underground resistance fighters. Lead by a man named Nathanial (Brendan Fletcher), they lay waste to Der Furher's finest with some unexpected help from a busty half human/half vampire woman in a leather suit wielding twin swords and jumping around really quickly - this woman is named Rayne (Natassia Malthe) and soon she and Nathanial realize that they have a common cause, and that's to kill as many Nazis as they can.
As they go about their raids, it comes to pass that one of the head Nazis in the area, Commandant Ekart Brand (Michael Pare), was turned into a vampire by Rayne herself, and that one of the SS's head scientists, Doctor Mangler (Clint Howard), is working on some experiments with vampires in hopes of being able to turn Hitler into an immortal himself. Rayne has horrible dreams about being bitten on the neck by Adolf - and she makes out with a curvy blonde chick in one of the most gratuitous (and in this unrated version, explicit) softcore girl on girl couplings you're likely to see anytime soon. Really, these two go at it with a vengeance. At any rate, various people are captured and killed but eventually Rayne and Nathanial decide to launch an attack to stop the Nazis, which will lead to some sort of showdown of sorts, and a weird random sex scene that takes place for no reason whatsoever in the back of an army truck in which Nathanial can't even be bothered to take off his hat.
In Boll's world, opening a film with a scene in which potential Auschwitz victims simply to pull our sympathies into the film only to bombard us with choppily edited CGI bloodshed and faux-martial arts isn't an exercise in bad taste. In Boll's world throwing a blonde on brunette lesbian scene into the film to pad out the running time isn't sexploitation. In Boll's world having our heroin sneak up on a solider while he's peeing off the side of a building might be comedy. In Boll's world, bad Hitler impersonators can and will be dreamtime vampires with no real bearing on the plot and in Boll's world Clint Howard makes for an awesome mad scientist. At least he got the last part right.
In all seriousness, Bloodrayne: Third Reich is so chock full of lunacy that you can't really tell if the joke's on you or if Boll is taking all of this seriously (the extras indicate he is) and that's probably where a lot of his appeal as a filmmaker lies. The film is poorly made on a narrative level and the effects are put together on the fast and cheap. The performances are pretty bad across the board, Howard notwithstanding (he does make for a good casting choice here) and even if Natassia Malthe she hasn't got the range to really be taken too seriously in this movie. As awful as it all is though, you get the impression that Boll is smiling from ear to ear as he makes this stuff and some of that wacky enthusiasm does manage to shine through into the movie itself. It moves at a good pace, it throws things at you simply because it can and not because it matters, and it delivers plenty of bad CGI gore and a good bit of nudity too, all of which helps to cover up the fact that underneath all of this is a pretty bad movie. It's all so goofy and stupid that it kind of works. Kind of.
Bloodrayne: The Third Reich looks surprisingly decent enough in this AVC encoded 1.78.1 widescreen 1080p high definition presentation. The film appears to have had a reasonable budget behind it and so it looks quite slick, offering up some great Eastern European locations which appear quite detailed here. The color scheme that the movie employs is a grim one, it's very heavy on black and grey and dark green but these colors are reproduced well. Some minor crush and some minor compression artifacts pop up here and there but aside from that, there's not much to complain about. This isn't a reference quality picture but it's certainly a solid high definition transfer that should make fans of the film happy enough.
An English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix handles the audio chores rather well, offering up good surround channel usage and strong, rumbling bass mostly noticeable during the shoot outs and fight scenes. The score is rather sweeping, sometimes far more so than the movie probably needs, and it's spread around the mix nicely. Dialogue is clean, clear, easy to follow and the levels are well balanced. There are no subtitles provided nor are there any alternate language tracks.
First up on this disc, in terms of supplements, is a commentary track from director Uwe Boll and writer Michael Nachoff who take things reasonably seriously and keep the discussion going throughout. Boll has never really been at a loss for words before and he has no qualms whatsoever discussing what he likes and doesn't like about this picture though expressing fairly strong admiration for the people who he worked with on this production.
Additionally the disc contains a five minute interview with writer Michael Nachoff, who speaks about his intentions with the script, and a twenty-eight minute behind the scenes documentary that includes interviews with Boll, Malthe, Howard and Fletcher, most of whom seem to have had a reasonably good time making the movie even if they keep their comments fairly vague. A trailer for the feature and trailers for a few other Phase 4 releases and some menus and chapter stops close out the extras.
Bloodrayne: The Third Reich is a Uwe Boll film about a sexy female vampire fighting Nazi's with Clint Howard in it. That alone should tell you what you need to know - if you're a Boll fan, you'll eat this right up, if you're not, this movie won't convert you. The film is goofy, superficial, and frequently the very definition of stupid BUT to its credit the movie is also nicely shot, slick looking and horribly entertaining so long as you keep your expectations in check. Again, Boll fans will enjoy this, but if you're outside of that camp, best to stick with a rental. If nothing else, you'll get lots of T&A and plenty of bloodshed for your rental dollar.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.