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Underworld: Rise of the Lycans by Patrick Tatopoulos (Director)
Review by Charles Mohapel
Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD  ISBN/ITEM#: B001HN697M
Date: 15 May 2009 List Price $28.96 Amazon US / Amazon UK

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Like many people I first became interested in the Underworld series when watching a promo spot featuring Selene the Death Dealer, the gorgeous vampire played by Kate Beckinsale and her pair of high tech automatic pistols. What kept my interest was the intriguing combination of lots of rapid fire action set against a backdrop of luxuriously detailed medieval history laced with the intertwined origins of the elegant vampires and the savage Lycans.

Knowing that Underworld: Rise of the Lycans was a prequel that gave the audience the richly layered backstory that many of us craved, I was eager to see what bonuses were available on the DVD.

From official release/information:

Product Description:
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans delves into the origins of the centuries-old blood feud between the aristocratic vampires, known as Death Dealers, and the barbaric Lycans (werewolves). A young Lycan, Lucian (Michael Sheen), emerges as a powerful leader who rallies the werewolves to rise up against Viktor (Bill Nighy), the cruel vampire king who has persecuted them for hundreds of years. Lucian is joined by his secret lover, the beautiful vampire Sonja (Rhona Mitra), in his battle to free the Lycans from their brutal enslavement.

Running Time: 92 minutes
This prequel to Len Wiseman's Underworld and Underworld: Evolution is distinctively different, especially minus the nimble vampire warrior star, Selene (Kate Beckinsale). Underworld: Rise of the Lycans takes its cues from the vampire/werewolf battles that occur in the other films, but director Patrick Tatopoulos focuses here on the young werewolf Lucian's (Michael Sheen) rise to leadership. Rise of the Lycans is set mostly within the walls of vampire lord Viktor's (Bill Nighy) castle, so the film's silver, black, and blue palette reflects a world happening under moonlight. From the outset, when Viktor brings Lucian, the first werewolf, into the world, this villainous bloodsucker's daughter, Sonja (Rhona Mitra), is smitten with Lucian's hairy appearance and instinctual intelligence. As years pass, Lucian grows tired of watching his race suffer slavery and imprisonment, and recruits a human named Raze (Kevin Grevioux) to assist rebellion. This archetypal plot is not so riveting, and what carries Underworld: Rise of the Lycans are the battle scenes between vampires and werewolves, which are excitingly fast-paced and brutal. The whole film adopts a medieval battlefield aesthetic that carries an otherwise clichéd story about illicit love and freedom fighting. Some characters, like the traitor vampire Tannis (Steven Mackintosh), also intrigues throughout, as one guesses who he will ally with. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans may not be the finest film in the werewolf and vampire archives independently, but its mixed monstrosity makes it unique and entertaining, especially on a big screen. -- Trinie Dalton

Directed by:
Patrick Tatopoulos

Writing credits (WGA):
Danny McBride (screenplay) and
Dirk Blackman (screenplay) &
Howard McCain (screenplay)

Len Wiseman (story) &
Robert Orr (story) and
Danny McBride (story)

Kevin Grevioux (characters) and
Len Wiseman (characters) &
Danny McBride (characters)

Cast (in credits order):
Michael Sheen ... Lucian
Bill Nighy ... Viktor
Rhona Mitra ... Sonja
Steven Mackintosh ... Tannis
Kevin Grevioux ... Raze
David Ashton ... Coloman
Geraldine Brophy ... Nobleman's Wife
Leighton Cardno ... Fearful Lycan
Alex Carroll ... Young Lucian (as Alexander Carroll)
Elizabeth Hawthorne ... Orsova
Jared Turner ... Xristo
Jason Hood ... Death Dealer
Mark Mitchinson ... Nobleman
Tania Nolan ... Luka
Craig Parker ... Sabas
Timothy Raby ... Janosh
Larry Rew ... Kosta
Peter Tait ... Gyorg
Olivia Taylforth ... Young Sonja
Eleanor Williams ... Teenage Girl
Edwin Wright ... Death Dealer Captain
Brian Steele ... Big Lycan / Creature Performer
Kate Beckinsale ... Selene
Shane Brolly ... Kraven
Kurt Carley ... Creature Performer
Richard Knowles ... Creature Performer
Dale Pavinski ... Lycan soldier (uncredited)

(Source: Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

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