Released in 2003, this horror movie - which had a rough ride from the critics - stars Scott Speedman and Kate Beckinsale. Speedman plays Michael Corvin, an innocent medical student who unwittingly harbours a secret that could tip the balance in a centuries-old war between vampires and werewolves. Currently, the vampires, led by Selene (Beckinsale), hold the upper hand but the werewolves hope Corvin holds the secret of their victory.
His blood contains a rare gene that combines both vampire and werewolf attributes, with the latter's evil predominant, and a new race will arise. Selene must also deal with the treachery of fellow vampire Kraven (Shane Brolly), who is conspiring with werewolf leader Lucian (Michael Sheen). Her only ally is Viktor (Bill Nighy), a leader of old she raises from his sleep against the laws of her race. As both the werewolves and the turncoat vampires gather, Corvin's body and soul are at stake and Selene his only protection.
Underworld is director Len Wiseman's debut film. Previously he'd worked as art director on Stargate and Independence Day. His background shows in a film that looks good from the start, with a violent street battle between vampires and werewolves, and he gives the scenes a dark, Gothic feel.
While acknowledging that the movie looked good, critics felt that the film's script was clunky and the plot was predictable. It's certainly true that the characters are largely ciphers and the plot is a bit obvious, but the all-action, fast-moving pace more than compensates. Beckinsale, clad in tight black leather, is strong as the all-action heroine, while Nighy brings the necessary gravitas (and exposition) to the film.