An ancient evil is once again unleashed in the 21st Century as fright master Wes Craven presents this terrifying and suspenseful sequel to the big-screen hit DRACULA 2000! Featuring screen favorites Jason Scott Lee (RUSSEL... more »L MULCAHY'S TALE OF THE MUMMY), Jason London ( OUT COLD, THE RAGE: CARRIE 2), and Craig Sheffer (HELLRAISER: INFERNO, A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT), ASCENSION is the riveting story of a group of medical students who come across the body of the world's most notorious vampire! When a mysterious stranger appears and offers the students $30 million to harvest the body and steal its blood for auction, it's an offer they can hardly refuse! But as the lure of riches collides with unimaginable terror, the students also find themselves relentlessly pursued by a vampire killer from the Vatican! Also starring Roy Scheider (JAWS) and Brande Roderick (TV's BAYWATCH) -- anyone who craves intense suspense can happily sink their teeth into this chilling thriller!« less
More a prequel to Dracula III than a sequel to Dracula 2000
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 04/29/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Not only do you need to know that this direct to video movie is a sequel to "Dracula 2000," but that it is now the middle part of a trilogy that concludes this year with "Dracula III: The Legacy." Otherwise when you get to the "to be continued" ending you might feel cheated that you are left hanging just as things are starting to get interesting. But then for most of "Dracula II: Ascension" it is not really clear why this 2003 film is a sequel to what is now the original in all this.
In director Patrick Lussier's "Dracula 2000" the new twist on the story of Dracula is that we finally learn the real reason why the vampire loathes Christian symbols. It turns out that Dracula is really Judas Iscariot (you have to admit, it is an audacious idea even if it is rather ludicrous). However, this great revelation has almost nothing to do with this story except for a few seconds towards the end. This makes sense because except for Dracula's crisp corpse in the morgue most of this film has no reason to be tied to the first film. Throughout the important thing is that these characters have stumbled across a real live vampire, so to speak, and the fact that this is the burned body of Dracula is as inconsequential as the idea he is really Judas as well.
So, Dracula's body shows up in the morgue and as Elizabeth Blaine (Diane Neal) and Luke (Jason London) do the autopsy they come up with the crazy idea that this is the body of a vampire. Then something happens to convince them that they are correct in their suspicions, an idea that is reinforced when they suddenly get a phone call out of the blue from a mysterious stranger named Luke (John Light) offering $3 for the body. Luke is interested in the money, but Elizabeth sees an opportunity for the vampire's blood to save her boyfriend Lowell (Craig Sheffer), who suffers from a degenerative condition. Lowell brings along a pair of graduate assistants, Kenny (Khary Payton) and Tanya (Brande Roderick, Miss April 2000 for "Playboy"), so that the can help investigate the scientific properties of vampire blood and, of course, eventually be the vampire's victims.
Meanwhile, Father Uffizi (Jason Scott Lee), an imposing vampire killer with a bullwhip and a wicked looking scythe, is going around decapitating the undead. Dracula is next on his hit list, but his superior, Cardinal Siqueros (Roy Scheider) makes a point of telling Uffizi that he should not only be killing vampires but trying to save their souls. Even though Uffizi is a priest, this idea has never occurred to him before, but you know about the hierarchical structure of the Catholic church, so this will come into play in the film's end game.
The idea of scientists playing Dr. Frankenstein with Dracula has its moments, although of course such efforts are doomed to fail. At the same time "Dracula II" goes back to the ancient Eastern European superstitions that vampires have to untie knots and count scattered seed, a curious juxtaposition with the modern science and Judas elements of the story. This also sets up some strange comic relief at the film's climactic moment, although I like the idea of which character of this strange little lot shows the most courage and intelligence in the face of a hungry vampire.
Another addition to the vampire idea Dracula insists that he has had many incarnations. In addition to Vlad Tepes the names of Gilles de Rais and Caligula are thrown around. This works with the idea that every time Dracula comes back he looks differently, which explains why the character was played by Gerald Butler in the original, Stephen Billington in this one, and is going to be Rutger Hauer in the finale (you can catch a glimpse of him in a flashforward during the flashbacks). In other words, what could be an interesting idea with historical resonance, exploiting the whole Judas idea, ends up being an explanation for the casting in this trilogy.
There is a lot going on here in this film, although it is a mixed bag of hits and misses (and we have no idea why the title is "Ascension"). Lussier filmed both "Dracula II" and "Dracula III" at the same time, and in the finale Uffizi and a sidekick will travel to war torn Romania (where these movies were filmed) to try and finish off the vampire once and for all. Perhaps the best thing I can say for this film is that I am interested in seeing how this all plays out."
Immortality Has A Price...
Justice0309 | Joplin, MO USA | 07/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"With the success of "Dracula 2000" it was surprising when Dimension Films chose to release the sequel "Dracula 2: Ascension" not to theaters, but Direct-to-DVD. Since it was the same director from the first film, Wes Craven was producing once again, and the cast was comprised of good actors (not necessarily A-list, but neither was the first films' stars), the decision just didn't seem to make much sense. Now, I'm not sure if the decision to go Direct-to-DVD effected the storyline, or if the script had already been written to be one big script, spread out over two sequels. Either way, it seemed odd, and I have to say I was skeptical about even watching "Dracula 2: Ascension" (though the two sequels were shot back-to-back, due to legal trouble for Dimension Films, "Dracula 2: Ascension" was released over a year before "Dracula 3: Legacy"). But, after watching "Dracula 2000" again, I decided I should at least give the second film a chance, after all with the same director and producer it should at least be as good a movie as the first. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by "Dracula 2: Ascension", it had a good, solid story, with strong acting (Dracula was played by a different person, in fact none of the original cast returned for the sequels), and continued to build on the new origins of this modern-day Dracula.
"Dracula 2: Ascension" picks up pretty much where "Dracula 2000" left off. Dracula appeared to have been killed, however, appearances can be deceiving, as Dracula is once again alive and well. This time though his freedom will be short lived as he is captured by a team of scientists who are attempting to find the key to immortality, a secret that is locked within Dracula's blood. On the trail of Dracula and the team of scientists, is a priest/vampire hunter, named Father Uffizzi (Jason Scott Lee), that has been assigned by the Catholic Church to destroy Dracula and his legion of vampires. When Uffizzi catches up with the scientists he discovers that Dracula was more than they could handle. Now with most of the team dead, except for two members, one that has been turned into a vampire, the other named Luke (Jason London), joins forces with Father Uffizzi, to destroy Dracula and attempt to save his friend from the vampirism that has taken hold.
"Dracula 2: Ascension" was an entertaining sequel, yet somewhat disappointing due to the fact that the story for this film flows directly into the third movie making both films feel like one big movie. Unlike "Dracula 2000" which could stand alone as a complete movie, "Dracula 2: Ascension" requires the audience to see "Dracula 3: Legacy" to get some form of satisfactory ending. After watching "Dracula 2: Ascension", I felt like I did after the first two `Lord of the Rings' films, they were great movies, yet they never had satisfactory endings until the final movie. Same here, this was a good movie, but it sucked that I had to wait over a year to get the conclusion of the new story arc that had begun in "Dracula 2: Ascension".
The gripe about the 2 sequels being so inter-linked aside, this really was an enjoyable film and a satisfying continuation of "Dracula 2000". The cast, though comprised mostly of unknowns, was for the most part strong, and the story when combined with the third film is really intriguing. If you liked "Dracula 2000" or are a fan of vampire or monster movies, then I highly recommend this series of films.
"Dracula 2: Ascension" is rated R for violence and language."
A guilty pleasure that was far better than Dracula 2000
Moya37 | Eugene, OR United States | 02/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I know this was a really bad movie to many people, but I can't bring myself to erase it from my Tivo, and there are so many things I love about it that I had to give it 5 stars.
The first thing you need to know about this movie is that it isn't much of a sequel. All it really keeps from Dracula 2000 is the mythology around the creation of Dracula. To me, the whole Judas as Dracula thing is a fascinating idea because the blood drinking of Christians (and giving eternal life through drinking blood) is a delicious bending of holy communion. Dracula 2000 ends with Dracula locked up in Van Helsing's vault, but you just have to forget that and figure he was left hanging upside down on the cross at the end of 2000 (maybe the filmmakers were making this up as they went along).
The second thing, is that the actor playing Dracula has changed, which was fine with me because I thought Scott Billington was both scarier and more attractive in a menacing way than Gerard Butler. The movie makes a clumsy attempt to explain this by saying each time Dracula regenerates, he changes form, but their reasoning doesn't really work unless you discount Dracula 2000, (where he always looked the same in flashbacks.)
Many people have complained that Dracula is tied to a cadaver chair for most of the movie, and he is, but Billington managed to make that work with his facial expressions--you could almost see what was going on in Dracula's head. I actually liked it that Dracula wasn't all powerful through most of the movie--it seems like his ascension should take time and be at some cost, so seeing him suffer as a lab rat was somehow "right" with me.
So what did I love about this movie? For starters, I enjoyed the way the mythology of Dracula II didn't stick to the hum drum and boring staples of vampire movies. I liked the premise of a group trying to profit off of a vampire's blood; the group dynamics and how they fell apart were fascinating to watch, if not always realistic (I will admit a few plot twists were totally unbelievable, but I was willing to just go with it). Mostly though, I love this movie because it has one of the best death scenes ever in it--one that was gruesome but funny, and oddly satisfying since the guy who got it was such a jerk. Also, I have to admit that I really liked the ending. I don't want to spoil it, but suffice it to say that I am pretty sick of Van Helsing-finally-stakes-the-vampire plots, and this one was different.
I have to admit that my taste in movies is a little oddball (two other vampire movies that I recently enjoyed were Immortality and Blood, indies that strayed from the traditional vampire mythos.) I wouldn't recommend this movie to everyone, but for people who like vampires, schlock, and something a little different, this movie would be a good bet. "
Everyone's a Critic...even me
Brian Holdsworth | Boston, MA | 06/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm one of those people fascinated with vampire lore and vampire movies as a result. Dracula 2000 brought an original idea into being, and caught my attention. When Dracula II was released, I didn't hesitate to rent it and watch it. Again, I was pleased with the results, another mostly original idea. I mean, there are only so many ways you can spin a vampire story. I definitely recommend Dracula II and the upcoming Dracula III."
I liked this a lot
Sarah | 04/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The reviewer who sees this as "hate-inspiring" is taking this a little too seriously. As a previous reviewer pointed out, supernatural beings in folklore are often endowed with some kind of activity they thrive upon be it counting things, drinking blood, eating people, hoarding gold, fixing shoes, etcetera. I don't think Dracula II was trying to pick on people with any kind of illness at all. The pale skin is often a trait of vampires because it's symbolic of them being "dark" and "unholy" creatures. That doesn't mean the makers of this film were saying anything about people who have health issues. Dracula II is a solid *fantasy* sequel that should be appreciated on that level."