There are endless cliches out there about the importance of a first impression, but whatever truth they may hold in our everyday lives they go double for film. When there’s only a couple of hours to tell a story and capture its players, an audience’s first chance to meet a character is an asset no filmmaker worth their salt is going to waste. So with that in mind, CHUD is going to take a look through the many decades of cinema to extract the most special of those moments when you are first introduced to a character, be they small moments that speak volumes, or large moments that simply can’t be ignored.
Inevitably it will be the major characters and leads that are granted the grandest of entrances, but don’t be surprised to see a few supporting players and minor individuals get their due, when the impact of their appearance lingers longer than their screentime. Also know that these moments may be chosen for any number of reasons, and the list could never be exhaustive. But here you’ll find moments that make a big splash, say a lot with a little, or we think are just particularly cool.
We hope you enjoy, and can’t wait to hear from you about each and every entry. Don’t spend the effort guessing future choices or declaring what must be included– just enjoy the ride!
The Film… Blade (1998)
Director… Stephen Norrington
Entering From Stage Left… Wesley Snipes in the role of Blade
What Makes it Special… The ridiculously excellent action.
We all knew that Wesley Snipes could bring it, both in the thespianization and martial arts departments. But holy hell, who ever thought that he’d give Blade – an extremely minor character in the Marvel Universe from back in the ’70s – this kind of treatment? His Eric Brooks was a whirlwind of death, anger, style and attitude. There’s really no better way to describe him. And there’s no mistaking that fact as soon as you see him walk into this movie and the tremendous carnage that ensues. To do it justice, you can’t just throw down a few simple lines of prose trying to describe it. You’ve got to cover it in play by play:
3:00: Some poor hip young slob makes the mistake of accompanying a hot chick named Racquel (Traci Lords) to an underground rave, in a meat packing plant of all places. But it ain’t long after the sprinkler system turns the place into a bloodbath – literally – that he discovers he’s partied himself right into the shit: a vampire booby trap…and he’s the Ecstasy. A blood-soaked beatdown by the collective Nosferatu partygoers and a desperate scramble for escape takes him to the feet of…
6:59: BLADE. Clad in black leather from boot to collar. More chrome than a ’57 Chevy, and a pre-vampasskicking grin. And wait, is that a goddamned sword coming out the back of his coat? Holy shit.
7:12: The Vamps: “Oh Fuck!” looks. All of them.
7:15: Blade strolls into the scene, impossibly, without a drop of blood on him, while everyone else looks like cover models from The Descent poster. There’s got to be between 50 and 100 suckheads in the joint. But Blade’s backing them all down. The smart ones run out the back. The term “calm before the storm” comes to mind.
7:22: Then a vampire decides to be a big shot. He’s met with a shotgun blast to the face, almost before you can blink. Ash ensues. The place goes apeshit.
7:29: Some female vamp brings a couple of of meat hooks to a shotgun fight. Bad move. Ashen shotgun victim #2
7:35: Some vamp tries to sneak up behind Blade and gets an elbow for his troubles.
7:37: Blade scatterguns some vamp 10 feet away into a fence.
7:40: Vamps are making for the exit like Tupac and Suge at the casino.
7:44: A familiar (human vamp stooge) is victim #4.
7:48: Racquel tells the Daywalker she’s going to rip his fucking head off, eats boot for her trouble.
7:50: Another vamphench, another shotgun shell finds its mark.
7:55: Racquel gets another shot…and gets another shot, right in the kisser. Bye Bye baby.
7:58: Shotgun’s empty, makes a good throwing club.
8:04: First vamp to go by way of kung fu and silver stake to the heart.
8:10: Blade chopsockies some vamp to the floor.
8:12: He takes another one up to the ceiling the hard way with a stake to the chin.
8:16: A familiar, a punch to the face, a stake to the heart, a boot to the head, a head thru some glass.
8:22: The vamps finally get organized, Mercury (the head female vamp) and a couple unload automatic weapons in Blade’s general direction.
8:26: They miss. Blade has a spitfire of his own and doesn’t. He kneecaps some familiar. Then he unloads at Mercury, but she’s a quick little minx. Agile too.
8:33: A reload and then an unload into the DJ, who stops spinning house music and starts spitting rounds.
8:42: Quinn, a top vamp and frequent Blade nemesis regroups with about a dozen henches. Blade unleashes the pigsticker.
8:56: First vamp is sliced into ashtray filler in the air.
8:58: As is the second.
9:01: Blade takes it into the showers with a very nice acrobatic flip.
9:03: Another vamp sliced.
9:10: Blade has ashed a half dozen vamps in under 10 seconds.
9:22: A glave (cutting boomerang), three vamps, and a 360-degree camera spin.
9:26: Quinn and Blade jump at each other, Blade disarms him in the air.
9:30: A stylish flick of the coat and Blade disappears around a corner.
9:35: Blade gets the shotgun and fills Quinn with some hot silver. Twice. A little doodad of fire, and Quinn is lit up like he was The Thing.
The score: Blade 21(ish), Vamps 0.
Why it Resonates… Because it’s really the first time in a long time that a comic book that wasn’t Batman or Superman was done and done well in live action. So well in fact that not only did it spur on an incredible sequel by GDT (leave us forget a third installment, shall we?), but the current string of mostly good and occasionally excellent Marvel franchise movies like Spider-Man, The X-Men and Iron Man. Blade was the blueprint for all of it. A manual for how to infuse some modernity to characters who generally didn’t translate well to film. Likewise, it breathed some serious friggin’ life back into the most played monsters in film. And it did so with such a startling in-your-face attitude that there had never been anything like it before. Nobody was expecting Blade at all. And that’s why it kicked all of our collective asses. Not bad for an obscure, D-List jive-talking vampire hunter from the decade of bell bottoms, Shaun Cassidy and pet rocks.
Other Grand Entrances… Well, La Migra Frost came on like gangbusters, and only at the expense of a dozen pure bloods. Nothing like winged vampire spirit angels flying through a guy to make him feel like a million bucks.