Starring: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman, Leonor Varela Director: Guillermo del Toro Category: IIB Wesley Snipes seems made to play the lead in the Blade films: he has just the right blend of strength and charm to bring to life the character first made famous by Marvel Comics. The original Blade film was a refreshing take on the vampire genre too (and its pulsating opening nightclub sequence one of the more memorable of recent years). And the producers have taken a chance on the sequel - rather than stick with the tried and true - bringing in Mexican director Guillermo del Toro to give the film a fresh look and Hong Kong's own Donny Yen Chi-tan as fight choreographer to give action sequences extra punch. Snipes returns as the eponymous half-man, half-vampire but has moved to the streets of Prague, where he picks up his battle with the creatures of the night. In the first film, he lost his mentor Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) so now all his guns and gadgetry are handled by a stoner, Scud (Norman Reedus). When vampire numbers in Prague begin to swell, Blade realises something must be up. And, of course, it is - but this time they're not out to kill Blade, they want his help. There's a new breed of nasties on the planet - mutated vampires (half-man, half-beast, half-believable) - and they're about to wreck things for everyone. Blade is drawn in to battle with his former enemies - and with the help of a surprise guest from the past. Well, it's no real surprise if you look at the cast list, but Kristofferson's return adds some weight to the film every time the body count threatens to overwhelm. Lucky, too, that del Toro has so much style. He allows us to dance alongside the brutality as the special effects crew do the fancy footwork, while Yen finds imaginative ways for the cast to beat each other senseless. Okay, so vampire flicks have a limited audience - you'll probably have to peek through a sea of baseball caps to see the screen - but at least the film-makers haven't cheated audiences with another rehash. And so Blade II becomes that rarest of things in modern cinema: a sequel that improves on an impressive original. Blade II opens today.