You've got to like a movie that gives us a nude Lucy Liu, shot high and from behind, and then moves her slowly over to a full-length mirror where all will be revealed ... but she's a vampire, so no reflection! Rise: Blood Hunter, from director Sebastian Gutierrez, is a cheap and dirty mash-up of the vampire and revenge genres, following L.A. reporter Sadie Blake (Liu) as her quest to find out who murdered a goth vampire wanna-be lands her on the menu of the real vampires behind the crime. Unfortunately for them, some potent blend of reporter moxie and girl power prevents her from staying dead like they planned -- she ends up kicking open and crawling out of the morgue drawer she was stuffed into, pissed off and shaking like a heroin addict for want of blood. Soon enough, she'll adjust to her new lifestyle and even acquire two must-have accessories: a girly little crossbow as a signature weapon and a vampire mentor who encourages her to "embrace your shadow side," whatever that means.
Sadie's shadow side is apparently the side that allows her to kill and dine on innocents, and not even particularly annoying innocents, as is sometimes the loophole. Picking up a reasonable young hitchhiker at one point, she quizzes him: "Do you have a wife? Have a girlfriend?" After giving all the wrong answers, he's lunch. Hey, she's a vampire -- vampires gotta eat. I have to say I wasn't expecting such a morally troublesome hero to emerge from those paragons of virtue at Sam Raimi's Ghosthouse Pictures, but I like it! Blood Hunter succeeds through edgy little moments like that one, along with an assortment of nude scenes, each one shot in such conspicuously low light that it smacks of actress protest, which somehow makes more enjoyable, in a perverted way. Sadly, there's no virtuoso special effects or cinematography -- there was more visual originality in a ten minute vampire short included in the anthology Paris Je T'Aime, released this weekend -- but there is enough here that works to make up a picture that's good for a Saturday night.