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4) Demolition Man (1993)

Unlike a lot of other action movie icons, Snipes has never been afraid to take on villain roles, and one of the most memorable is Demolition Man’s Simon Phoenix (possibly the coolest character called Simon since The Saint). In the opening scene set in then-future 1996, the psychopathic Phoenix is captured and sentenced to cryogenic freezing in a revolutionary new ‘cryo-prison’. Woken up for parole in 2032 in the city of San Angeles, Phoenix finds that the subconscious rehabilitation brainwashing that was meant to make him a good citizen has somehow improved his criminal skills, and he easily escapes and sets out to see what this brave new world has to offer.

Snipes has a lot of fun in this film, portraying the sheer glee of a psychopathic career criminal who finds himself in a pacific utopia utterly unequipped to deal with violence. That is until the San Angeles police decide to defrost his arch-nemesis John Spartan (Sly Stallone), the renegade cop who was involved in the disastrous capture of Phoenix back in ‘96 and sent to cryo-prison alongside him.


5) Blade (1998)

Perhaps Snipes’ most iconic (or should that be laconic?) role is as half-vampire vampire-slayer Blade, one of few black superheroes in the Marvel roster – in the original comics the character was born in London’s Soho, this was changed to Detroit, Michigan, for the films. This was the least of the changes that scriptwriter David S. Goyer made in order to update the Daywalker ready for a late 1990s cinema audience. The script radically revamped the character’s attributes, turning the comic book Blade – an arrogant but normal human with immunity to vampires – into a stoic half-vampire warrior with all of the bloodsuckers’ strengths but none of their weaknesses (except the thirst for blood).

Blade was a huge success, and a landmark for Marvel, coming 12 years after their initial foray into the movie industry had ended with the disastrous big screen adaptation of Howard The Duck.


6) Blade II (2002)

The success of the first Blade film ensured a sequel four years later, with David S. Goyer scripting once again and Guillermo del Toro taking directing duties and giving the film his own distinctive look. In a neat twist, the lone hero Blade must join forces with a team of vampires originally tasked to kill him called the Bloodpack, to hunt down the Reapers, a new strain of bestial, mutant vampires with hideous hinged jaws and leech-like suckers (del Toro’s vision is all over this).

Snipes again delivers a compelling and physical performance as Blade, despite him being a character of few words and even fewer emotions.


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