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Review: BLOODRUNNERS (2017)

Prohibition-era gangsters and bootleggers versus the cops, seen it before, right? What if I told you these cops aren’t The Untouchables, in fact, they’re corrupt as fuck? Still sound too familiar? Ok, what if the bootleggers are vampires, led by master vampire Ice-Motherfucking-T? Bet ya ain’t seen that before, and that is the basic plot of Bloodrunners, the latest film from Dan Lantz (Bloodlust Zombies, Hayride to Hell).

Jack Malone (Michael McFadden) is a corrupt cop making a good living off of Prohibition. Shaking down speakeasies and bootleggers as well as getting a piece of any other action including the local brothel, run by an old flame Rosie (Kerry McGann, Banshee, Dark Haul). However, the murder of a local girl is an omen for what’s to come.

When he and his partner attempt to shake down a new gin joint Chesterfield’s and its owner Chesterfield (Ice-T, Clinton Road, Equal Standard). As much as he and his crew like cold cash, they like warm blood even more. After an attack leaves much of the police force dead, Malone has to fight back with the help of mad priest Victor Renfield (Peter Patrikios, Split) and handyman Willie (Chris Boylan).

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Bloodrunners wants to be a gritty bad guys versus worse guys film, And, it does a great job of starting out that way. Both sides seem equally nasty, only the vampirism aspect making the cops look less evil. However, after a shakedown attempt goes wrong and Chesterfield’s crew gets the upper hand, the script tries to humanize Malone. Making him more troubled than actually malicious and the film becomes a more traditional genre piece.

It’s rather hard to pull this off after seeing him try to beat a confession out of an innocent man. Not to mention spout off streams of racial and ethnic slurs. Having one of the vampires be responsible for a horrific event during World War 1, one that helped make Malone the way he is an interesting if somewhat far-fetched, touch, however.

The flashbacks to the war are done via some really awful CGI. Though given the budget Bloodrunners had, I suppose the filmmakers didn’t have much choice. They could, however, have done more of the other effects with practical effects, it would have looked a lot better. It’s not as bad as a lot of DTV films, but it’s enough to take some of the edge off.

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As the villainous Chesterfield, Ice-T gives a solid performance, showing considerable charisma despite his character’s nature. It would have been nice if they had used his past as a slave in his conflict with the racist cops. It could have blurred the good guy/bad guy lines even further and deepened the plot a bit more. But that might have been a bit more involved than Bloodrunners aspires to be.

But when all is said and done, Bloodrunners is an easy way to kill some time. It moves at a nice clip and doesn’t get dull, even if it never reaches its full potential. It’s available on DVD and streaming services. You can check the film’s website for more details.

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