This movie is a grand example of how one should not trust the reviews and half-assed critiques one will find regarding movies that are all too often pushed aside for common sensationalist pap. Take a chance, and trust in your own instincts regarding films, and you will find that many will suit you just fine, and may in fact, prove to be far better than you ever would have thought. This, my friends, is one of the good ones.
For the fans of the classic legends of vampires, this movie shows that it is possible to bring a new spin to a venerable creature of the night. Even the fans of the "fluffier" style of vampire might enjoy the romantic side of the titular character. But, unlike modern vamps, who are written to avoid the difficulties of daylight, or blood, or silver, Vlad Tepes/Dracul brings us back to those roots and demonstrates how an old school vampire manages 'like a "sir"'.
"Vlad Tepes (Luke Evans) is the Prince of Wallachia /Transylvania. Vlad and his men find a helmet that means an Ottoman scouting party is clearing the way for an invasion force. At Broken Tooth Mountain, Tepes finds a cave littered in bone fragments. Inside the dark depths they are savaged by a fiendishly strong man-like creature, whose speed, sharp teeth and keen red eyes, spell the death of all of Tepes' men, but not without cost. The wounded creature attempts to make Tepes his victim, but halts when sunlight causes his blood to burn and turn to ash on the wind. Vlad returns to his keep, and a monk informs him that a vampire, once a man who bargained with the devil for power, is accursed, and must remain in his rocky prison until he can pass his curse to another through a pact sealed with the vampire's own blood.
Time passes, and Tepes is with his wife and son when a Turkish entourage arrive and see audience. Tepes offers them the customary tributes of silver coins, but the Sultan, named Mehmed, states that a contingent of Turkish men are missing, with the clear indication that Tepes was behind their disappearance. He then demands an additional tribute of 1,000 boys to be trained as soldiers. Tepes refuses the demand, but he knows his army is insufficient to repel the Turks if they should attack, so he asks Mehmed, who has known him since childhood, to show leniency and leave the children be. Mehmed is not swayed by his request and Tepes then offers himself in their stead. The Sultan then demands that Tepes' own son must come also. The boy tells his father that he is ready to join the Sultan's army, but Tepes kills the Sultan's men knowing that his actions will lead to war.
Driven to desperation, Tepes revisits the cave seeking help from the vampire who tells him of the steep price of such a bargain. He holds forth a skull bowl containing a large amount of blackish vampire blood, and informs him that if he is able to resist human blood for three days, the deal will be nullified and he will retain his humanity. But, should he fail, he will inherit the blood curse of vampirism for all eternity and he will be required to render aid to the vampire when he finds his maker and seeks revenge upon him. Knowing that he has no choice if he is to save his people and his family, Tepes agrees and drinks the creature's blood completely. Immediately, he is wracked with pain, and through gritted teeth he asks:
"What happens now?"
The vampire turns away as he says:
"Now, you die."
Drawing from history surrounding the actual Prince of Wallachia, the movie incorporates a heroic view of the main character, just as residents of that area hold now. In this way, the story is a clever blend of romanticism, heroic sacrifice, infamous legend and historic events that is altogether entertaining and enjoyable. It's dark, and moody and the characters are well played. For those with teens and preteens, it's not all that bloody or gore-ridden, depending more on facial reactions and dizzying action to depict violence. There is one sexual situation that is quite tame, and the movie doesn't rely on foul language or crudity to carry the story. From beginning to end, it was a good vampire romp with great actors, great costumes, and dizzying quantities of bats. How cool is that!?
If you are weary of vampires with the Star Trek: Next Gen. sinus-problem makeup to make them look "scary", or vampires that have had all the gritty, bitey fun stripped away, including the fangs, then join me in some classical throat-sucking warfare that you'll really enjoy. The end of the film implies a sequel, which I do hope eventually gets made, and I for one, want more! A lot more! I've honestly had all the wimpy sparkly vamps I can handle for one lifetime.