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Friday Night at the Movies // Priest

Priest was released last year, supposedly based on a South Korean comic by the same name. That’s all they have in common, apparently. I had wanted to see the movie because I had heard good things about the comic and had always meant to pick them up but never got around to it. So I was going for the “I’ll watch the movie.” route. That was a horrible, horrible idea. As I’ve noted before I freaking love wild west stuff. Vampires, wild west mixed with sci-fi setting and church type stuff? How can this go wrong? This movie is gorgeous. It looks so good, but everything else is just, awful. Seriously, if you’re really into CGI creature design, set design, production pieces, that sort of stuff, watch this movie. Just ignore what I guess is considered a plot these days. This movie falls into the Van Helsing category of vampire hunter movies, and somehow does worse according to Rotten Tomatoes. Probably because of it’s lack of Kate Beckinsale in tight black gypsy clothing.

Oh like there was any other reason you saw this movie!
Instead we get the usually gorgeous Maggie Q, still attractive but in drab black robes. And that’s fine, it’s actually kind of refreshing to see a non sexualized strong female lead, and she does a fantastic job.

Too bad her character didn’t have a name. That might be my biggest grief with this movie. No one has names! No one! The main character is just Priest, Maggie Q’s character is just Priestess, hell the bad guy is just credited as Black Hat! Check out the wiki for the Priest “manwha” and check out the character list. Everyone has names, also there’s a story worth paying attention to. A vampire hunting priest, angels, demons, ancient evils, relics, revenge over the death of a lost love. It seems all Hollywood was interested in was the name, and the idea of a vampire hunting priest in a bizarre wild west future setting. I know it’s really not fair to compare movies with their original material, since very, very few films ever live up to the task. Like I said, I haven’t read the comic and I’ve just kind of skimmed through some pages and read the wikipedia article, but if they would have just adapted the first book into the movie, it would have actually made some sort of sense.

The comic has scenes like this.

That’s a dude in a top hat killing a fallen angel/demon thing with a cane sword. Tuxedo Mask jokes aside, that’s pretty fucking awesome.

Instead we get this.

If that scene looks familiar, maybe you’ve seen Daredevil recently? I haven’t but that Bullseye scene with the broken glass is all that I remember from the movie.

The action sequences, which really should have been the shining point of this movie, are so poorly choreographed and obviously wire-rigged that it ruins any sense of realism. There’s a fight on top of a speeding train that is just absolutely absurd. This is coming from someone who loves ridiculous bullshit, and that shit was just stupid. Maybe I wasn’t drunk enough? I don’t know, all I know is that this movie could have been an 11 on the badass setting, but it ended up a boring 5.

Let’s talk story! This won’t take long. Brief synopsis: Family living in the “wasteland” outside of the city gets attacked by vampires and their daughter taken. Sheriff of the local town goes into the city to get Priest because the girl is Priest’s niece and the Sheriff is going after her and thought he might need him along. Priest disobeys orders from the church and goes with the Sheriff, vampires get killed. Along the way some other Priests, including Maggie Q’s Priestess are sent by the church to bring Priest back, dead or alive. They all end up dead except for Priestess at the hands of Black Hat, the first human/vampire thing. Which is weird. The human/vampire hybrid thing, I mean. I have to give the writers credit for creating some decently cool vampire creatures, that are more bestial monsters than anything. Actually, you know what, I just thought about it, they’re just Aliens/Xenomorphs! Each “hive” has a Queen, that lays egg type things. Holy shit! Just like in Van Helsing! So generally the vampires are just vicious monsters that eat people. Yet they keep familiars? What’s really bizarre about “Black Hat” is that he’s the guy that Priest couldn’t hold onto during one of his last missions, so you’d think they’d give him a name. None of this movie makes any sense.

Yeah, those things hanging down are weird vampire cocoons.

Fuck this movie, it is not good. As good as the art direction, camera work, post production work, etc. the complete lack of care to the idea of storytelling just leaves an awful taste in your mouth. This movie could have been so much more, and the writers just produced horrible drivel. The best part of the movie is the animated opening explaining the history, hell, that’s the only part that makes any sense.

Here, let me save you 70 minutes of your life.

There, that’s really all you need to see of this movie. If you’re still interested in seeing it, I’m not going to stop you. I’m going to file this movie away in the “kill it with alcohol” section of my brain. I do know that I’m actually going to pick up the comics now.